Monday 26 September 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Learn - Tony Halker

I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour for Tony Halker's The Learn.  I have a short excerpt chosen by Tony Halker followed by my review.  The excerpt reminds me of how happy we all are when the sun is shining and could imagine that our ancestors felt equally blessed when the sun shone down on our wet and windy isle.

Page 3 – Near the beginning of the book characters are emerging, we see a child and his mother, the boy develops and grows to manhood through The Learn. This excerpt describes a “place moment” on a beach when mother and son scavenge together. I like the idea that they thought of time differently dictated as much by the seas and tides as by what they saw in the sky.  

The boy is seemingly reluctantly running to keep up; a more careful look shows a near skip, light in a relaxed body. He too relishes this place moment with his mother. Dark haired despite the light in her; thin, wiry, whispish, jerky in movement; he too exudes vitality, though of a different inner spirit to that of Rigantona. He has the seed of joy in him, Rigantona struggles to water the joy seed inside of her, it grows from time to time but can be stunted when the sun is not shining.

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.

What did I think?

Although I found it quite hard to get into, it was well worth persevering as the sights and sounds of Bronze Age Britain are brought to life in Tony Halker's The Learn.  The author has very kindly listed his characters at the start of the book which proved an invaluable reference as the story progressed and more characters were introduced.

Owayne is the main character; he is the son of Rigantona, a beach scavenger hunting for pearls known as Goddess Tears.  Rigantona wants her son to become a druid so she sends him off to the Learn to start his training.

I quite enjoyed it when the Syth were introduced, and not just because it made me think of Star Wars.  Owayne is on kind of an endurance trial where he must survive in the wilderness.  The Syth watched over him and invited him into their camp which must have enhanced Owayne's knowledge of the different people of our isle.

Although I am partial to a bit of historical fiction, I know that history is not the most riveting of subjects for a lot of readers.  I did find this slightly on the dry side and I think perhaps that Tony Halker has so completely embraced the Bronze Age period that he has written it as if he was in that period.  It certainly adds to the authenticity of the book but I wasn't drawn into the story as much as I expected to be.  I did, however, find the religion fascinating, especially the goddess Anu who they think of as Mother Nature.

The Learn is a fascinating glimpse into ancient Britain and would be well worth reading for anyone who is interested in the Bronze Age.

I received this book from Authoright in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon
Purchase from Foyles

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.

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