From Publishers Weekly
Brown's sweet coming-of-age novel about a fantasy-prone adolescent growing up in the Orkney Islands just before WWII offers some moving passages and fine, delicate prose but is sabotaged by a paucity of plot and narrative drive. Thorfinn Ragnarson is the daydreaming son of a tenant farmer, avoiding both work and school despite the best efforts of family, friends and neighbors. Instead, the boy dreams up elaborate historical fantasies. In a series of odd yet intriguing chapters, Brown (Vinland) transforms Thorfinn into a Viking traveler, a freedom-fighter for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the colleague of a Falstaffian knight who participates in the Battle of Bannockburn. The author then hurls his protagonist into the future as Thor, who returns to the Orkneys as an adult and recalls his internment in a German POW camp, where he discovered his writing skills. Thor also reflects on the history of the islands, the links between dreaming and writing and the whims of fate. Brown's lyrical descriptions and gift for local color capture the flavor of the Orkneys (where he was born), but his thin and choppy story line undermines this otherwise worthwhile effort.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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About the Author
George Mackay Brown was a Scottish poet, author and dramatist, whose work has a distinctly Orcadian character. He is considered one of the great Scottish poets of the 20th century. "Beside the Ccean of Time" was short-listed for the 1994 Booker Prize.
He studied at the University of Edinburgh and lived most of his life in Stromness, Orkney Islands. He died in Stromness in 1996. This is his last collection of poems.