I have received a free e-copy of the book “The Learn” by Tony Halker to review.
Here is the book blurb.
Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior. Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging. Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by. A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.
Although I do read historical books from time to time, the Celtic Bronze Age is an era I am not at all familiar with. There is a list of Celtic tribes at the beginning of the book along with characters and places which I found very helpful to refer to. The book is set in North Wales.
The book starts by introducing the boy Owayne and his mother Rigantona. Owayne finds a large red pearl amongst the seaweed on the beach which the Celts believe are tears of the Goddess, so Rigatona negotiates a price for the pearl with druid Merle to train Owayne for the Test and Learn, so that he may become a priest or druid.
I did find it hard to relate to the Celtic ways like taking several chapters to decide whether a round wooden frame was blasphemy against the Goddess or new knowledge to be added to the Learn.
We meet Gwen, Huw and Nial, three others like Owayne, sworn to the Learn. Owayne, Gwen and Nial team together on the Learn challenge to each make a charcoal pit.
At Beltane, a small race called Syth join in the festivities as honoured guests but one of the Iceni tribe kills a Syth girl. Her mother demands justice. A life for a life.
Owayne also learns from the Syth and has to help defend the Learn when the Iceni and Gargani attack.
Although this book is well-written, I have to say it didn’t hit the spot for me.
You may purchase this book on Amazon
Here’s an extract to give you a taster of the story.
Pages 153-154. Beltane (Calain Mai) is the festival that celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of summer, when cattle are put to higher ground and crops sown. Fires are lit, danced over, put out by the rite, then relit. Syth come in the dark to join the celebrations, jumping fires running in the shadows.
Looking carefully I see that some Syth, a high number, are not quite like us, are misshapen with joints out of place, breaks of bone that have remained distorted, some have burn marks from metal, even stumps of hand or foot where liquid metal has made hole or break, all have energy, all tumble, fight and compete, all endure, struggling to be in this celebration. Misshapen in form they can be fluid beautiful in movement and in their commitment of energy.
Noise is ramping, rising, confused, screeching shell blown air merging with voices, bangs and calls, there is constant fire jumping, more reckless, screams with pain burning embers, drunk and foolhardy try to take burning sticks and branches. Lines of jumpers men and women running at the fire from different places and angles, jostling to be next, risking meeting another over the fire, falling into its flames, all miss, blessed.
About Tony Halker
Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.
Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/
Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog
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Disclosure. This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.