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Carla Nayland is a scientist with a lifelong interest in history and archaeology. She has long been fascinated by the early medieval period, sometimes called the ‘Heroic Age’ or the ‘Dark Ages’, the centuries after the end of the western Roman Empire. This was a formative time in British history, and it was in this period that the countries of England, Scotland and Wales first began to emerge. It was a colourful period of tremendous diversity, with numerous religions, ethnic groups, languages and cultures all jostling for position. We are lucky enough to have a near-contemporary source, a history of the church in England written by the Venerable Bede in 731 AD, which is full of vivid characters, drama, warfare, intrigue and betrayal. Carla Nayland set out to bring this little-known period of history to life through historical fiction.
Numerous articles on the history and culture of seventh-century Britain, including the historical background to Paths of Exile, can be found on Carla’s website and blog.
Subjects range from the use of silk in Anglo-Saxon England to human sacrifice, and new articles are regularly added.
She also writes fiction set in an invented world loosely based on medieval Britain: "Ingeld's Daughter" is available as a free PDF from Carla's website.
on May 01, 2012 :
Carla Nayland’s ‘Paths of Exile’ takes place in a land of many Kingdoms, on a vast island that will one day become England, Scotland and Wales: the United Kingdom. The author very cleverly paints a crisp, clear glimpse of an opaque period of Britain’s history. This is where historical fiction - the active, conjecturing mind of an author who is familiar with all the available facts of a certain period - does what no amount of history lessons can ever achieve: it brings an era to life.
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.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)