From Publishers Weekly
A first-time novelist at 76, du Boucheron caused a literary sensation in France with this tale of a bishop's attempted reclamation of a medieval Scandinavian colony in Iceland. As the novel opens, Einar Sokkason, cardinal of Nidaros, learns that the Christian colony of New Thule has turned pagan. He dispatches Inquisitor Ordinary Bishop Insulomontanus to exorcise the colony with the aid of the stake, the wheel, the head vise, drawing and quartering, the slow hanging, and suspension from the feet or carnal parts. The bishop sets off peaceably in the company of the captain and crew of the Short Serpent
, but as the Northern Sea freezes over, frostbite necessitates a few impromptu amputations. This turns out to be a prelude for what will come as the Serpent
finally wends its way up the coast of the fjord, and the bishop is greeted by the curious colony of cannibals. Despite a competent translation, the cardinal and bishop's grave dictums are stilted, and the blood and gore titillate less than they bore. (Jan.)
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'Eccentric, slightly maddened and often brutally funny ... A tour de force'- New York Times. 'Prose as spare as the frozen landscape ... The novel reads as if Cormac McCarthy channeled Jack London - or, better yet, Dostoevsky' - Houston Chronicle. 'Pitch-Black comedy... [Du Boucheron's] hellish vision is based on a kind of bleak wisdom. [It] stinks of truth - but we must pray that it is not the whole truth, or the only truth' - LA Weekly. 'Like William Golding's Lord of the Flies, du Boucheron's novel is an experiment in Darwinism where the characters learn that it is not the survival of the fittest, but of those that can most readily learn to adapt' - Foreword. 'Laugh-out-loud funny and revolting at once ... A strangely pleasurable and completely riveting read' - Booklist. 'A spare, cunningly ironic novel... Sparse rawboned and fascinating.' - Kirkus.
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