Paths of Exile Paperback – Jun 1 2011
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Editor's Choice for the August 2009 issue of the Historical Novels Review. A powerful novel. I was completely transported to the world of seventh century Britain. A strong new voice in the field of historical fiction; Carla Nayland has written a fine book. --Elizabeth Chadwick, award-winning author of The Wild Hunt, A Place Beyond Courage, The Greatest Knight and other novels Carla Nayland pulls the curtain back on the little known period of seventh century Britain to reveal the fascinating world of Eadwine. Filled with unforgettable characters and wonderful historical detail, Paths of Exile is historical fiction at its most intriguing. --Michelle Moran, best-selling author of The Heretic Queen Paths of Exile is an epic tale of battle, honour, loyalty and betrayal that is at once exquisitely entertaining and utterly convincing. Carla Nayland's prose is irresistible, luring the reader from the comforts of the 21st century into the harsh and often bloody reality of Saxon England . A triumphant debut that demands a sequel. --Russell Whitfield, critically acclaimed author of Gladiatrix. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Carla Nayland has a lifelong interest in history and archaeology and considered doing a degree in the subject in her spare time, until deciding it would be much more fun to explore it in historical fiction instead. She has degrees in Natural Sciences and Pharmacology from Cambridge and has worked for many years in corporate strategy, cost-benefit analysis, health economics and scientific writing. Carla is also a keen hillwalker, which is a bit of a problem as she lives in the flatlands of East Anglia. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This tale of loyalty, treachery, murder, revenge, escape and pursuit, in 7th century post-Roman, pre-Norman Britain (sometimes known as the early `Dark Ages') also has just a smidgen of romance thrown in for good measure. The story is woven around some authentic historical characters (filled out to full living colour), including the main protagonist, along with some vivid entities from the author's fertile imagination. With great attention to detail (the author is certainly au fait with this period); this is a beautifully crafted story.
For me personally, being just a boy at heart, the only area this superbly crafted tale fell short (and believe me it did not detract from my enjoyment) was not taking full advantage of the many battle/fighting opportunities that the author herself provided. Regardless, `Paths of Exile' is still worth five stars.
Review by T.D.McKinnon, a Goodreads author/reviewer and the author of `Terra Nullius', an historical fiction, and four other Amazon Kindle titles.
Having said all that, this is a terrific historical novel, obviously written by some one who knows what they are talking about and not just researching a book. (The author is a historian that specializes in 7th century Britain) THe details of places, people, behaviour and way of life are fascinating and really add to the story. The author is a historian first and this may explain the slow start in terms of storytelling. You won't even notice it by the end, instead you'll be asking why this book wasn't longer!! Hope for a sequel. The battle scenes are riveting, the various escapes through moors, rivers and all manner of danger will keep you up at night. Well done.
It's the first book by Carla Nayland that I've read and I'm delighted to see from her website [...] and various other mentions here and there that a sequel is in the offing. It can't come soon enough. Eadwine has suffered not only family loss and personal injury, but his betrothed has turned out to be a bit of an airhead and the new woman in his life, the courageous and striking Severa, seems to have been consigned to the witch's flames. And they were made for each other, dammit!
Let's hope Severa has somehow survived and follows Eadwine and his lively friends in their honourable mission against the odds.
However, just being accurate sets the table. A book must stand on its own, and in this area, Paths of Exile delivers. I thought the plot flowed well and was reasonable, and characterization was superb. The author was able to differentiate between the majors characters, given each one their personality, voice, and motivations.
What I really liked while reading the book was how well the author conveyed what it might have been like to live in the era. Having war bands of only 30 men was refreshing after reading countless books with far more grandiose vistas of thousands of soldiers clashing in epic battles. The position of women in society was rather well thought-out, and I was caught up in how they made their choices in life. I also liked how the bad guys were not necessarily "badder" than the good guys, and how the peasants readily accepted the new lords after the old ones were cast out or killed. Overall, the feel of living in the era was very well portrayed and projected.
I did have a bit of a problem, though this is not a criticism of the book. Despite the fact that some of the names in the book are present in my own family tree, the spellings were both so odd to modern speakers of English and often similar to each other that I sometimes had trouble keeping track of who was whom. I would like to have had a cast of characters, per se, so I could refer to it as needed.
I think the author hit a home run with this (or as she is English, "went down a treat?"). The historical aspect was accurate. The characterization and storyline were great. And the author displayed an exceptional degree of writing skill. I highly recommend this book to others.
This is the story of Eadwine, a prince of Deira whose lands are invaded and conquered by Aetheferth, king of a neighboring tribe. After a devastating battle, Eadwine goes into exile with some of his followers. They stop at a farmhouse occupied by three women, one of whom is Severa, a healing woman of sorts and their leader. Most of the story follows Eadwine, biding his time as he waits for the opportunity to reclaim his lands and betrothed (who has a surprise waiting for him at home). Meanwhile, there's a fair bit of tension going on between Eadwine and Severa...
This is an excellent book that effortlessly combines fiction with the relatively little that's known about this period in English history. Therefore, recreating this period must have been challenging for the author, but you wouldn't know it from reading this novel. According to the author's note at the end, Eadwine and many of the other major characters are based up real people (Nayland used Bede's account of the 7th century as the basis for her research); and apparently, this is only the beginning of the story. In fact, the ending of this book leads me to hope that there will be a sequel.
The author is especially skilled at dialogue, and developing her characters, although this book takes place over a short period of time. The characters too are very believable; each (with the exception of Severa, who seems a bit too perfect sometimes), is fallible. It's because of people's faults (and strength) that a reader gets emotionally invested in a story, and that's especially true of the characters in the novels, who seem as though they lived and breathed yesterday and not 1400 years ago! Highly recommended if you're looking for an excellent novel about the early middle ages. Of note, however, the font size in this edition is very tiny.