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Saxon: The Book of Dreams (Saxon 1) by Tim Severin

review published on July 1, 2013. Reviewed by Sara Garland

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

This is the first book of the republished Book of Dream Series set in 780 AD.

Severin previously produced a Viking trilogy that was very popular, and ventured further back in time for this series, which follows the tribulations of Sigwulf, a minor Saxon prince whose family has been slaughtered by the King of Mercia. Equally popular the series has been re-released with a new cover for more readers to enjoy.

Sigwulf, distinct due to his different coloured eyes, is saved from slaughter but banished from his home and exiled to the court of King Carolus. Here he has to survive on his wits and keep himself viewed in high enough regard to stay alive. Thankfully for Sigwulf, he his accompanied by his very trusty and extremely knowledgeable Saracen servant Osric – who is as much a mentor to Sigwulf as he is a servant. He is extremely well informed about many things and adept at acquiring important information from the servant quarters.

Sigwulf is plagued by recurrent dreams, some of which appear to be disturbingly prophetic. Whilst he begins to develop friendships, attempts on his life are also made. He has to tread carefully as it becomes apparent that some amongst the court are ambitious and devious, stooping to all levels of deception and double dealings to gain the upper hand and succeed.

By chance Sigwulf obtains a Book of Dreams, which is a rare text that offers decipherings. These have the ability to bring meaning to people’s dreams. Written in text which Osric can interpret, Sigwulf attempts to decipher his and other people’s dreams, which brings with it great risk.

Through his secret relationship with one of the king’s daughter’s, who becomes fascinated by the interpretations, Sigwulf is required to provide dream interpretations for the king. Dicing with chance, his interpretations are believed and he is sent to Spain to spy on the Saracens ahead of a Frankish invasion, which tests his allegiances.

This is a book firmly about this central character, Sigwulf, and as such there are less battle scenes than in books of a similar genre. But the storytelling is particularly good. Being young and naïve, Sigwulf has many foibles, which make you connect with him. He is however a character with integrity and you fear whether he will be able to adequately read situations and improvise sufficiently to avoid treacherous outcomes. Osric is the stable force, without which Sigwulf would never stand a chance. But still Sigwulf walks a very fine line, which keeps you on the edge of your seat. The level of mystery and intrigue is enjoyably held throughout. As the story gallops along, it is indeed a very quick read, with the end leaving you hanging and very intrigued to discover what happens next. ..

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Sword & Scimitar, by Simon Scarrow

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HHhH, by Laurent Binet

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