Saxon’s Bane – Geoffrey Gudgion
Fergus Sheppard’s world changes forever the day his car crashes near the remote village of Allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he returns to thank the villagers who rescued him, and stays to work at the local stables as he recovers from his injuries. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love – and be targeted for human sacrifice.
Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The young archaeologist’s dream find – the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior – is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior had been ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman. And their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep.
Fergus discovers that his crash is uncannily linked to the excavation, and that the smiling and beautiful countryside harbours some very dark secrets.
As the pagan festival of Beltane approaches, and Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple’s bloody fate.
The summary for this book had me intrigued. I immediately imagined a sort of reincarnation story and since I’m a history nut, some old crime from the time of the Saxon’s coming to haunt people today made me eager to read ‘Saxon’s Bane’. Now, it wasn’t fully what I expected, it’s a lot more complex than that, the emotions in this book go a lot deeper and the focus is very much on the characters and their psychological viewpoint.
So let’s start there: the characters. The story begins with main character Fergus’ car crash, a very gripping and realistic scene that really grabbed me and shows the author’s talent right from the very start. Fergus has a hard time after the accident, emotionally as well as physically. He hasn’t been able to talk about it or work through it. Somehow he thinks going back to the town where it happened and thanking the people that saved him will help him along this process. In Allingley he meets a scala of people, one of them being Eadlin, a woman he feels physically attracted to and who has some kind of special connection to nature. She is also one of the people who found him after the accident. The other one who found him, Jake, currently Eadlin’s boyfriend, first comes across as very arrogant but kind of friendly. There is more to him than meets the eye though.
Also in town is our other main character, Clare, an archeologist who has just found the preserved body of a Saxon warrior. She feels some weird connection to that warrior and slowly gets taken in by his story, reliving it in her nightmares.
Both characters have very different personalities and give their own personal depth to the story. I really liked learning more about them and seeing them progress and growing closer throughout the story. Gudgion is obviously very skilled in writing out interesting characters.
The thing that absolutely won me over in this books, was the writing. I love Geoffrey Gudgion’s writing! It’s beautiful. The way he describes the scenery and his characters’ emotions is stunning. The fact that I was so captivated by the writing style really made this a fast read. I literally breezed through it and though it certainly has some heavy subjects in there, Gudgion managed to write them in such a way that it didn’t slow the story down one bit.
‘Saxon’s Bane’ has all the makings of a really good book: it’s a fast read, the writing is absolutely beautiful, it pulls you into the story immediately, the characters are compelling and realistic and the setting gives it that bit of extra mystery. But personally I wanted a bit more of the Saxon’s history and that supernatural part of the story to come to the foreground. The Saxon is the red thread throughout the story, but I would have liked to see more of him. Though I have to admit that now, at the end, there remains a bit of mystery around the whole Saxon and his connection to Clare and Fergus for the reader to contemplate. A coin with two sides.
This book isn’t full-blown fantasy or supernatural or anything like that. It is a mixture of all sorts of genres and if I had to put one etiquette on it, I’d say it leans more towards a psychological viewpoint on some extraordinary events. If you like these kind of approaches, I’d definitely recommend ‘Saxon’s Bane’ for you, because it’s an absolute joy to read.