Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wolf Wood Review

Welcome to another France Book Tour review. This one is Wolf Wood Part One by Mike Dixon. The book is set in Medieval England while at war with France, so part of the story takes place in France.
Here's the synopsis from the author:
(Some violence, family and political intrigue, quite a lot of romance, some sex but never explicit.)
In 1436 a dispute arose between the people of Sherborne and their abbot over the ownership of a baptismal font.  Before it was settled, the abbey was burnt down and a bishop murdered.  Some saw the hand of evil at work and blamed a newcomer to the town, accusing her of being a witch.  Others saw her as a saint.  Wolf Wood is set in the turbulent years of the late middle ages.  The old feudal aristocracy is losing control, a new middle class is flexing its muscles, the authority of the church is being questioned, law and order have broken down and England is facing defeat in France.  Wolf Wood is a work of fiction based on actual events.
I enjoyed the writing in this story and it pulled me back to keep reading. Some of the characters were likable and others were deplorable, as they should be. The history in the book seemed very well-researched with lots of details that put the reader back in the middle ages. Of course, it doesn't matter how authentic the details are if the story isn't interesting. And the stories of the people's lives was interesting, although the main story of the baptismal font seemed a little vague to me.
The most likable character iss Alice. She comes to Sherbourne as the matron of the almshouse and the nearby Bishop immediately becomes suspicious of her because she uses herbs and plants to help heal people, silly things like recommending prunes for constipation, that obviously brand her a witch. 
Another likable character is Sir Harald, the oldest brother in a noble family, but he prefers books and learning rather than war, like his father and younger brother. We meet Harald as he is fighting a paternity dispute. His widow's family claim that Harald's son was actually fathered by Harald's brother, Guy. The widow's family hopes to get their property back if the son is a bastard.
An interesting thing about this book was that if focused quite a bit on different classes, rather than only on the noble class. 
A drawback of this book is the number of characters, especially while reading on my Kindle. It made it difficult to keep everyone straight. I can't tell you the number of Williams and Richards, and I wondered if the author couldn't have changed the names just to help out the reader.
I also hesitate to read books with numbers after the title, like part one or part two. I hate to make the commitment "to be continued" endings. This one did have a solid ending, so I wasn't left unhappy. 
Taken overall, the book was an interesting slice of life in the middle ages. I can assure you, after reading this, that I would not have wanted to live during those times, but I enjoyed exploring the people and living conditions of the time.

On the author's website:

Author's bio:
"I was born in Sherborne (Dorset) and attended school there and (as an exchange student) in the Medoc region of France.  I studied physics at Oxford and received a PhD degree in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge.  Following teaching and research appointments in South Africa, Scotland and Australia, I joined the Australian Government Service and worked, for a while, as a ministerial assistant.  I entered the tourist industry through public relations and scuba diving and established one of Australia's first backpacker resorts.  I have a keen interest in medieval history and I am a frequent visitor to Britain and France.
"As a boy, growing up in Sherborne, I heard about the famous fire of Sherborne Abbey and was told that a priest shot a flaming arrow into the tower and set the building on fire.  The marks of the fire are visible today, over five hundred years later.  And there is a lot more to tell us what happened.
"There was an inquiry into the dispute that led to the fire and the surviving documents tell of a bitter feud between the abbot and the townspeople.  It's highly dramatic stuff and it inspired me to write my Wolf Wood novels.
"My books are fiction.  Some of the characters are based on real people; others are entirely imaginary.  I have done my best to be faithful to the main course of historical events and fill in the gaps with the sort of things that could have happened to my characters."


Anonymous said...

thanks for your review, with lots of interesting details!

Linda said...

I don't know if the book would be my cup of tea, but I really liked reading the bio of the author. What an interesting life he has lead. I think I'd rather read a book about him to tell the truth.

Paulita said...

Linda, You're right. His life does sound interesting, but the book was interesting even though not something I would normally have picked up.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...