Books

Octavia Randolph’s THE CIRCLE OF CERIDWEN series. Narrated by Nano Nagle

Fifteen-year-old Ceridwen faces a plight common to most girls of her age: the unpalatable choice between taking a man she finds repulsive as a husband, or taking the veil and living a life she may not be called to.  Like most people of that time, her parents are dead. She has lost her uncle some years before. She has been brought up by the local prior, who wants her off his hands now that she has grown up.

As none of the options suits Ceridwen, she bravely decides to leave. So, what does a young woman of 15 take with her when she decides to travel out into the unknown in the year 871?

She takes: a mare, 40 pieces of silver, a comb, a wax writing tablet, a shift (chemise), 2 pairs of woolen stockings, a woolen gown, a cloak, a small bronze cooking pot, food bags of barley & rye, turnips & cabbage, a few pastries and loaves, a leathern flask with a stopper, a tinderbox with iron and flint, a cow-skin for a ground sheet, and two blankets.

Thus, Ceridwen makes her journey from Wessex, the home of the Anglo-Saxons, towards Jorvik (York), the home of the Vikings, looking for work as a spinner, housekeeper or maiden to some great lady.

What could possibly go wrong?

I loved this series because it brought the time of Alfred the Great so vividly to life. It brought us back to the struggles between Christianity and Paganism, between the Anglo-Saxons settled in England and the Vikings who appeared in their long-ships every spring to raid, pillage and take young women and boys for hostages. Through all six volumes: THE CIRCLE OF CERIDWEN (#1), CERIDWEN OF KILTON (#2), THE CLAIMING (#3), THE HALL OF TYR (#4), TINDR (#5), and SILVER HAMMER, GOLDEN CROSS (#6) Nano Nagle’s voice ebbs and flows, pronouncing everything flawlessly, as we leave Ceridwen’s village in the Midlands for her great Adventure of Life. Five Stars.

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