This is ostensibly a book for children but if the publishers did not announce that back and front, we would never guess. It is the story of a young man, Kenelm, an atheling, a nephew of the King and descendant of Woden, who was, when very young, sent to be a monk by his uncle the King. Not because the King is a Christian - far from it - but, it seems, on the principle of "Know your enemies" and so as to have someone loyal to him on the inside. The boy was never consulted.
Now, as a young man, and hating every minute of his life in the monastery, Kenelm is summoned to court by one of the King's counsellors because everyone is ill and no other atheling is available to deliver an important message. The message is to the Wood-People, begging their aid against invaders who are taking advantage of the epidemic to plunder the country. In the wood, Kenelm delivers the message - to three Wood-Women, sisters, who are shape-shifters and take the form of wolves to harry the foreigners.
Will Kenelm return to the monastery? Will he be reinstated at court by a grateful monarch? Will he join the Wood-People?
Note, though, that this is a book in which the Christians, a tiny minority in a land still pagan to the core, are the bad guys - and stupid, too.
'Oh, sister! You are welcome!' said the Abbess. 'Speak to me - tell me your name!'
'Why are you in our wood? Why did you break our tree?' It was Wulfruna.
'It is Jesus' wood,' said the Abbess. 'All the world is His creation.'
If that kind of thing upsets you, don't read it. Otherwise, do. It is a great read.
A great little read.
No, there is not much of it. Perhaps that is what makes it a "juvenile". When I finished it, I felt as though I had just read the first part of a real novel. I wanted (still want, Susan!) to know what happens to Kenelm next.
Medieval Magic and Mystery
> astral travel
> the wood-people, wood-women
> an old man, a thane and King's Councillor, who, when he was young, had loved and been loved by one of the ageless wood-women
> a young monk who still at heart worships Woden
> a Christian Abbess in a land which is still predominantly pagan and where she and her followers are regarded as freaks