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Against a Darkening Sky Historical fantasy set against the background of 7th century Northumbria, with the coming of Christianity, replacing the old pagan religion Egan, a devout monk, maybe even TOO devout, comes to that area, ostensibly as a translator, and his path and that of Wilona, a young priestess prophetess healer entwine He s an example of a Christian really living Christ s message and she is the last in the village of Ad Gefrin, clinging to her beliefs in spite of hostile opposition from her lord, other vi Historical fantasy set against the background of 7th century Northumbria, with the coming of Christianity, replacing the old pagan religion Egan, a devout monk, maybe even TOO devout, comes to that area, ostensibly as a translator, and his path and that of Wilona, a young priestess prophetess healer entwine He s an example of a Christian really living Christ s message and she is the last in the village of Ad Gefrin, clinging to her beliefs in spite of hostile opposition from her lord, other villagers, and most of the Christian clergy As the author states, beyond the research, this is a work of imagination She feels this is what life may have been like at that time The writing was gorgeous, especially almost poetic descriptions of nature, and deep character studies I felt immersed in that era Most highly recommended A new novel from one of Canada s most acclaimed and celebrated writers, Against a Darkening Sky is set in th century Northumbria and follows Wilona, a seeress and healer whose life and way of being in the world are threatened by the coming of Christianity and Egan, a young monk from Eire whose visions may have brought him to Christ, but whose experience of the sacred puts him at odds with the Roman church Full of magic and mystery, Lauren B Davis s new work explores what happens when one s experience and beliefs clash with those of the people in power For me, this was about a 3.5 star reading experience, but I ve rounded up to 4 stars because it has so many things that I really enjoy First, its setting at the point where country religions are being replaced by Christianity in Britain Second, I loved that Wilona was a healer, as I enjoy that kind of character And thirdly, Lauren B Davis is an excellent writer.Back in 2013, I read Nicola Griffith s fabulous book Hild, set in the same time frame It was a mention that Hild appears in Davis For me, this was about a 3.5 star reading experience, but I ve rounded up to 4 stars because it has so many things that I really enjoy First, its setting at the point where country religions are being replaced by Christianity in Britain Second, I loved that Wilona was a healer, as I enjoy that kind of character And thirdly, Lauren B Davis is an excellent writer.Back in 2013, I read Nicola Griffith s fabulous book Hild, set in the same time frame It was a mention that Hild appears in Davis book, that encouraged me to pick it up Unfortunately, Hild makes only one cameo in this book as a child and we don t see her again.The ending is inevitable, but I still found it disappointing I guess I am a pagan at heart and I m always disappointed when Christianity triumphs If you like this book, I would definitely recommend Hild, as well as Marion Zimmer Bradley s The Mists of Avalon and Mary Stewart s Arthurian Saga, beginning with The Crystal Cave Okay, so I saw this book at a thrift store, read Lauren B Davis, and my heart stuttered The Stubborn Season had a big impact on me since reading it over a decade ago, and I have mad respect for her ability in writing characters I quite liked this book I first thought it was a fantasy novel, simply because she did such a good job conveying mysticism and spiritual creatures of the pagan faith I actually thought it wonderfully insane for such a respected author of Canadian fiction to be ta Okay, so I saw this book at a thrift store, read Lauren B Davis, and my heart stuttered The Stubborn Season had a big impact on me since reading it over a decade ago, and I have mad respect for her ability in writing characters I quite liked this book I first thought it was a fantasy novel, simply because she did such a good job conveying mysticism and spiritual creatures of the pagan faith I actually thought it wonderfully insane for such a respected author of Canadian fiction to be tackling this genre So for all the things I like in a good fantasy novel, she hit all the buttons Strong female character, female centric themes, well rounded characters, interesting interpretations of magic, a subtle and satisfying but not overwhelming romance with a certain fella reminiscent of David in a Stubborn Season strong but not macho, steadfast, quiet type I thought it was strange that she combined her usual strong character examinations with such a trope ic fantasy narrative, so it was a bit jarring not to see the usual plot line curves you systematically find in fantasy books When I realized it wasn t a fantasy but a pseudo historical re telling, the story just felt, sadder There was this air of disappointment, especially concerning somebody s last minute spoiler view spoiler conversion hide spoiler I think Davies has done what not too many good authors have done, she wrote about a period in which the day to day norms and rituals are completely shrouded in darkness, that are so distant to us that they may very well be fantasy, and she wrote it as seriously and as sensitively as a commonly understood period piece today e.g People surviving the Great Depression Even Crichton wrote Eaters of the Dead involving pre Christian vikings during a time when humans may have co existed with Neanderthals in a narrative style from the perspective of a Muslim ambassador utilizing written ethnography We as a reading culture are so reliant on validating written history and shrouding unknown or guessed history withirrelevance It was jarring, but kudos to Davies While I m satisfied with the ending, if I do re read this book, it will only be for the lovey dovey scenes I know I m such an auntie The dramatic sweep of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY takes your breath away in its story of the coming of Christianity the White Christ to the pagan world of seventh century Northumbria The novel is narrated in alternating chapters by the pagan mystic wise woman midwife Wilona and her intense and gorgeous communication with nature, animals and the old gods that seem to ride in the air she breathes , and the idealistic, utterly gentle Christian monk Egan who truly lives by love and who will encount The dramatic sweep of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY takes your breath away in its story of the coming of Christianity the White Christ to the pagan world of seventh century Northumbria The novel is narrated in alternating chapters by the pagan mystic wise woman midwife Wilona and her intense and gorgeous communication with nature, animals and the old gods that seem to ride in the air she breathes , and the idealistic, utterly gentle Christian monk Egan who truly lives by love and who will encounter Christians who live by brutality.The novel sweeps you into another time It is so real you feel you are truly there with every cry of an owl or a woman in childbirth or breaking of a twig under the sandal of an approaching stranger The story encompasses dozens of characters whom you come to care about deeply The writer totally enters the minds of people who lived fourteen hundred years ago The thoughts of one character about the meaning of life and the hope of faith are so simple and deep and makes you realize that we are still seeking answers to questions first raised a long time ago in a different world where the way we live now would not even be a vague dream.Truly, the book is a world apart and a very rich and fascinating one I enjoyed it for the fanciful mind of the writer The time period was interesting, and having lived in England I love reading about it s past I particularly enjoyed the different beliefs, with Christianity on the rise it made me think of all the old religions and means of worship how one belief can obliterate others I have always enjoyed stories with a shaman, in this one a medicine woman be it modern day natural healers with a mystical touch , characters with their feet firmly grounded in t I enjoyed it for the fanciful mind of the writer The time period was interesting, and having lived in England I love reading about it s past I particularly enjoyed the different beliefs, with Christianity on the rise it made me think of all the old religions and means of worship how one belief can obliterate others I have always enjoyed stories with a shaman, in this one a medicine woman be it modern day natural healers with a mystical touch , characters with their feet firmly grounded in the old ways or paganism of the past, something about it tickles my fancy Egan is a devout monk, and Wilona is seeped into healing her beliefs at odds with the changing times This is an exploration in differences, how we perceive each other when our beliefs conflict Beautiful writing, and it is a fictional account of the past It s strange that while the times were so foreign to our modern culture religion is still a struggle I liked it I loved the strength of the writing in this book, and the characters experiencing diverse and satisfying story and development in primitive Northumbria and the inevitable clash between traditional forms of god and goddess worship and healing through the seithkona Wilona and the advent of Christianity represented by Brother Egan This story is a gripping adventure propelled by the characters without obvious plot points at least as I recognize them It is also a wonderfully, wonderfully written I loved the strength of the writing in this book, and the characters experiencing diverse and satisfying story and development in primitive Northumbria and the inevitable clash between traditional forms of god and goddess worship and healing through the seithkona Wilona and the advent of Christianity represented by Brother Egan This story is a gripping adventure propelled by the characters without obvious plot points at least as I recognize them It is also a wonderfully, wonderfully written study personal principles and beliefs, where the spiritual and community conflict weaves a powerful tale It captured my attention from the first chapter because it is so fully satisfying in all aspects primitive history, emotion, characters, spirituality, functional belief systems and fundamental conflict when those belief systems are challenged author Lauren B Davis 843167 s writing ability is astounding This book was vivid, enchanting and captivating I highly recommend it Only just scraped to three stars, because the writing kept me going And the conflict of cultures was an interesting device which allowed for a few unexpected twists.But, it isn t until the acknowledgements that the author mentions the book wasn t a search for historical accuracy but, instead, her fancies and perception of the period Fine Would have been nice to know that up front before the history rage kicked in.And beyond the history rage, it s the generally stock characters Christianity i Only just scraped to three stars, because the writing kept me going And the conflict of cultures was an interesting device which allowed for a few unexpected twists.But, it isn t until the acknowledgements that the author mentions the book wasn t a search for historical accuracy but, instead, her fancies and perception of the period Fine Would have been nice to know that up front before the history rage kicked in.And beyond the history rage, it s the generally stock characters Christianity is moving into Britain So we have venal, hypocritical Christians Except for the humble Irish outsider who understands animals and is disliked by his brethren We have the cold, yet honourable chieftan We have the local pagans, in touch with the old ways Some of these are partially developed but still not in the round While the rest are there to fill the story I discovered Lauren B Davis at the Harbourfront reading festival and have read everything by her since An extraordinary writer who is able to inhabit the voices and experiences of peoples from incredibly diverse backgrounds, not only of place and circumstance but also of time This book looks at the introduction of Christianity into 7th century England by focusing on a young Christian priest and a female pagan spell woman It is truly riveting, nuanced and compelling Aside from introducin I discovered Lauren B Davis at the Harbourfront reading festival and have read everything by her since An extraordinary writer who is able to inhabit the voices and experiences of peoples from incredibly diverse backgrounds, not only of place and circumstance but also of time This book looks at the introduction of Christianity into 7th century England by focusing on a young Christian priest and a female pagan spell woman It is truly riveting, nuanced and compelling Aside from introducing us to the politics of religion in this era and any other by extension , the characters feel completely authentic and sympathetic the story is engrossing and, while exploring important themes, this never loses sight of the entertainment value of the novel She is a writer of first rank Wilona is a survivor She survived the loss of her whole village while a child and made a place as a healer, midwife and devotee of the old gods in Northumbria during the reign of King Edwin Then enters Egan, an otherworldly monk who has a hard time coping with the world the two manage to keep each other sane when their world falls apart with the defeat of King Edwin at the hands of Cadwallon and Penda After listening to Jamie Jeffers on the British History Podcast for the past several years, Wilona is a survivor She survived the loss of her whole village while a child and made a place as a healer, midwife and devotee of the old gods in Northumbria during the reign of King Edwin Then enters Egan, an otherworldly monk who has a hard time coping with the world the two manage to keep each other sane when their world falls apart with the defeat of King Edwin at the hands of Cadwallon and Penda After listening to Jamie Jeffers on the British History Podcast for the past several years, I knew what was coming, but was pleased and surprised at the detail that Lauren Davis worked into the story to provide the details that make a tale live Will keep my eyes peeled forby her


About the Author: Lauren B. Davis

Lauren B Davis s most recent work is THE GRIMOIRE OF KENSINGTON MARKET named one of the best books of 2018 by the Globe Mail, and a finalist for the Fred Lerner, Canadian Authors Association Best Book of the Year , a story about a bookstore that is the repository of all the stories in the world, and that no one finds unless intended to do so It is also about addiction, love, guilt, and flying caribous Davis is also the author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, a novel set in 7th c Northumbria, as well as THE EMPTY ROOM, published in 2013 A searing, raw and powerful a portrayal of the chaos and pain of alcoholism Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The National Post, and the Winnipeg Free Press, Editors Pick byand a Critics Pick by The Coast Nova Scotia Told with compassion, insight and an irresistible gallows humor, THE EMPTY ROOM takes us to the depths of addiction, only to find a revelation at its heart the importance and grace of one person reaching out to another.OUR DAILY BREAD 2011 , was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and named as one of the Best Books of the Year by The Globe Mail and The Boston Globe.She is also the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed novels, THE RADIANT CITY 2006 , a finalist for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize and THE STUBBORN SEASON 2002 , a named as one of the Top 15 Bestselling First Novels by.ca and Books in Canada She has published two short story collections, AN UNREHEARSED DESIRE 2008 and RAT MEDICINE OTHER UNLIKELY CURATIVES 2000 Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards, the ReLit Award and she is the recipient of two Mid Career Writer Sustaining grants from the Canadian Council for the Arts A well respected creative writing teacher who has taught in Geneva, Paris and Ireland, as well as in the USA and Canada, she is also a past Mentor with the Humber College Creative Writing by Correspondence Program, and past Writer in Residence at Trinity Church, Princeton She now leads monthly SHARPENING THE QUILL writing workshops in Princeton, New Jersey.


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