This book was a total of 183 pages and it took me nearly 1 and a half months to read. Sadly, it was not because I was busy, but because it was particularly hard to read. The book is called The Wake and its about the Norman invasion (Norman as Normandy, not Norwegian) that took place in 1066. The history behind this invasion is pretty brutal and was a terrifying time for England. The reason it was hard to read was because the book is written in a "shadow tongue" that resembles what english looks like today and old english. At the end of the book, there is a glossary and a small history lesson to help readers feel more prepared for the book, but because I was reading on a Nook, I did not get to that point until the very end (which is actually a pleasant experience because it forces you to try and understand the words without any help).
All in all, the book was pretty good, not my favorite, but definent worth a read becase of how much of a challenge it was. Whenever my friends asked me what I was reading, I would always gear up for the responce the same way, "well it's this real interesting book, kinda like Homer's the Illydad, but about the Norman invasion." And then there would be a lot of silence because no one real connected about that.
I liked the book for several reasons. One, the language the author uses is compelling if you're willing to stay committed to it. The author, Paul Kingsnorth, won a couple of accolades for how unique the diction is. He basically had to create a new language for the book which is very awesome. Second, Paul uses this language to, not only describe the lives of his characters, but also uses it as a window for which his readers can step into and get a sense of how beautiful or bleak this world could be. For instance, the words used to describe a situation were simple in the way that, simple was better. When you read a book now, there are so many worlds that can describe a feeling, but in this book, a feel is always related to something in nature, a childhood memory, or a person. That way, the reader sees these characters as people that use the land as a tool for language as much as they use it for sustenance. Finally, my favorite part of the book is the historical aspect of it. At the start of the book, England was being conquered by France, and in many ways, Catholicism. With the support of the Pope in Rome, the French king took England for himself by divine right, and went on to enforce many religious doctrines on its' people. The culture shock is documented well in this book
I did not like the protagonist of the book. His name is Buccmaster, and is a pagan bully that treats everyone like they are beneath him. I normally find myself enjoying books more if the protagonist is the "good guy", but in this case, he is not. Buccmaster is a small time land owner and filled with anger and rage when his wife and two sons are killed during the invasion. He gets upset and forms a small group of warriors that fight against the French. Buccmaster's story is quite complex, but ultimately, you find him extremely conflicted, not by the death of his family, but by how England is changing from the old religion to the new. I also did not like how repetitive the language got, there were sometimes that I found myself just with my eyes glazed over reading the text in front of me. I believe that was done deliberately to portray characters as more primitive and short-sided, but it got old after a while. Finally, the story ended very symbolically that begs the reader to think more about the ending. I was just happy to reach the end, and I found myself in no mood to guess at its symbolism, but I am pretty sure I can get it: "out with the old, in with the new ...."