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The Wake Read ¾ eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB ñ [Read] ➵ The Wake By Paul Kingsnorth – In the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of 1066 William the Conueror was uncompromising and brutal English society was broken apart its systems turned on their head What is little known is that a frac In the aftermath of tIn the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of William the Conueror was uncompromising and brutal English society was broken apart its systems turned on their head What is little known is that a fractured network of guerrilla fighters took up arms against the French occupiers       In The Wake a postapocalyptic novel set a thousand years in the past Paul Kingsnorth brings this dire scenario back to us through the ey. Upon reading the 2014 Man Booker longlist announcement I was immediately drawn to The Wake because of it's uniue premise and because I believe it's the prize's first crowdsourced nomination Sourced by readers I had to give it a try What is perhaps the most uniue about this novel and needs to be mentioned is the language Written in a version of Old English created by the author for layman readers I didn't know what to expect But what I think should be made clear is that Paul Kingsnorth didn't write this novel intending it to be a chore for the reader He wrote it this way to reflect the world it takes place in and he did so beautifully The story is fascinatingly alien and utterly relevant to a time we can only try and imagine I appreciate Kingsnorth's reasoning in the note on the languageThe way we speak is specific to our time and place Our assumptions our politics our worldview our attitudes all are implicit in our words and what we with them To put 21st century sentences into the mouths of eleventh century characters would be the euivalent of giving them iPads and cappuccinos Just wrongAnd he's right Ever get annoyed reading modern morals in a character of historical fiction I bet Kingsnorth would too but by taking the brilliant extra steps with language he's created something magical Once you pick up on the rules of the language reading it becomes second nature It nourishes the story never detracting from the tale There is a partial glossary in the back but I didn't use it once Kingsnorth did all the hard work for us and I found joy in understanding his new words through context Set during the Norman invasion of England the story follows Buccmaster and his somewhat misguided attempt to bring England back to what it used to be Buccmaster is cocky outspoken and probably schizophrenic but oddly riveting in an endearing sort of way Except for the homicidal tendencies of course But it's 1066 and his entire world is in turmoil The journey is dark but dreamy and I was sad to see it end Not that I was expecting otherwise but I'll be honest this one caught me off guard One of the best historical fictions I've read yet it brings exciting new breath to the genreI look forward to reading of Paul Kingsnorth's work in the future Highly recommended

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Es of the unforgettable Buccmaster a proud landowner bearing witness to the end of his world Accompanied by a band of like minded men Buccmaster is determined to seek revenge on the invaders But as the men travel across the scorched English landscape Buccmaster becomes increasingly unhinged by the immensity of his loss and their path forward becomes increasingly unclear      Written in what the author describes a. 35 – 4 starsWhen we think of post apocalyptic fiction we tend to think specifically of science fiction or at least I know I do Our vision is usually either of a near future survival thriller about the fall of current human civilization into ruin most often as the result of a nuclear holocaust an ecological disaster or recently due to those pesky zombies or of the far future as we witness the after effects on a society that has fallen into utter barbarity and ruin We tend to see the apocalypse understandably as truly world ending on a global scale wherein the entirety of human civilization has been laid waste but what about an apocalypse that is restricted in its geographical extent What about one that impacts ‘only’ a single nation or a culture What about an apocalypse that happens not in the future or near present but one that lies in the distant past We think or hope of apocalypses apocalypsi as rare events something so inconceivable that it could only happen when the blue moon shines but when we broaden our definitions just a little and look beyond only those events that shatter the globe and also turn our vision from the future to the past we may start to see a world that was riddled with apocalypses; a world where cultures thrived and died on a regular basis It would seem that in many ways the apocalypse has been a fact of life for humanity since our infancy Countries cultures whole civilizations were destroyed as a matter of course throughout most of human history and Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake is a tale of one such apocalypse1066 is a famous year Even those ignorant of many ‘major’ historical events likely know that this was the year that William alternately ‘the Bastard’ and ‘the Conueror’ of Normandy invaded England and defeated then king Harold Godwinson and subjugated a people This subjugation was particularly harsh even in an age known for the harshness of war and ultimately involved the destruction or was it a transmutation of a people through the decimation of their language their rights and ultimately for many of their lives The Anglo Saxon culture that then held sway admittedly itself a race of conuerors on the island was overcome by the culture of France and a way of life was seemingly decimated almost overnight Landowners lost their rights and privileges to a crown with new and far reaching powers; speakers of the Anglo Saxon tongue found themselves ruled by a people that neither knew nor cared to know their language or ways; nearly the entire ruling class was decimated and those beneath them learned that even the yoke they once bore was perhaps not so bad a thing when compared to the new one What is less well known is that there was for several years a guerilla war waged on the Norman invaders by some of the remaining Saxon population This war while ultimately fruitless was the last hope of many for retaining their way of life and it is the story of one such rebel that we are told in Kingsnorth’s novelOne thing to note before this review goes any further is that Kingsnorth has basically created his own language in this novel and it could be a stumbling block for some He calls this language a “shadow tongue” since it is a fabricated version of English that incorporates many Old English words and grammatical structures in an attempt to incorporate a sense of verisimilitude with the era in which the story takes place without actually writing it in Old English It could thus be compared to what Russell Hoban did in Riddley Walker though I would argue that this is a bit easier to slide into esp if you have any background in basic OE syntax and vocabulary There is also a helpful glossary at the back of the book for some of the opaue words and terms used in the text I think as with Hoban’s use of an invented language Kingsnorth’s experiment is not merely a gimmick and ultimately succeeds I find far too often that historical fiction fails due to being little than modern characters dressed up in historical drag I wouldn’t say that attempting to recreate a dead language in a way that can mostly be read by modern audiences is the sole solution to this problem but in this case it definitely went a long way towards immersing the reader into what is effectively a different world and certainly a different mindset When we have to meet the narrator on his own terms due to the language used we are forced to leave many of our preconceptions at the door Of course the fact that I have at least a smattering of Old English definitely helped me in acclimating myself fairly uickly but I would strongly encourage any readers even without this background to still put in the effort Once you’ve picked up the gauntlet dropped by Kingsnorth I think you’ll find that after a few chapters the words that were previously giving you headaches start to roll naturally off the tongueWe open on the eve of the Norman invasion and are introduced to Buccmaster of Holland a region of eastern England not the Netherlands our stalwart narrator and a “socman a man of the wapentac who has three oxgangs” which ultimately translates to “an important man of influence and means beholden to none” a fact of which he is eager to remind us every chance he gets Buccmaster tells us his tale of tragedy and woe as he recalls the day that everything started to go wrong and all of the events that followed in its wake It was as is usually the case a day much like any other aside from the fact that he witnessed an omen a strange bird in the sky that led him to believe that changes were in the air His feeble attempts at warning others fall on deaf ears and we soon learn that Buccmaster is an atavism amongst his own people a man of the old ways as taught to him by his grandfather who has rejected the “hwit crist” and the wave of change that has already come and significantly changed the traditions and beliefs of his people As a result he is not only something of an outcast and recluse in his own small community but also already in a position of bemoaning the lost past of his people even before the great apocalypse that will truly decimate his culture has arrived It is interesting to note that despite the tragedies that we come to see befall Buccmaster the loss of his position the burning of his home the disappearance and probable death of his sons the rape and murder of his wife Buccmaster never becomes a sympathetic character He is a man we uickly come to realize who is neither likeable nor trustworthy His words always serve a specific purpose his own perceived best interest – and while it seems fairly clear to me at least that he is not deceiving us on purpose it is eually clear that his entire perception of reality and the events that go on around him are skewed Ironically it is his own words that betray him As we hear the constant justifications the repeated assurances of his own worth power and rightness the continual complaints about the wrongs to which he has been subjected by both his enemies and his friends we begin to uestion Buccmaster’s grasp on reality As Buccmaster falls further and further from his position of relative comfort and influence or as obstacles to his unuestioned authority arise we start to hear the voices in his head These voices whisper to him that the old gods have returned and hand picked Buccmaster himself to bring back their ancient ways to his people and overcome the invaders Unable to accept that he is no than an outcast and outlaw living like a beast in the forest Buccmaster must instead see himself as the ordained saviour of his people and their ancient way of life You might wonder how book with a main character whose catalogue of faults and crimes matches that of Buccmaster could be readable let alone enjoyable but I found The Wake to be both Buccmaster is no saint he’s not even a likeable sinner but his story of loss decline and madness is a compelling one As we are given and glimpses of both past and present events and the story of his life begins to unpeel like the skin of a rotting onion we start to see the full tragedy of Buccmaster’s life and understand that the last greatest calamity of the overthrow and destruction of his people was simply the final nail in the coffin the last straw in a long line of sins disappointments and defeats It sounds an utterly gloomy tale and while it certainly isn’t full of a lot of chuckles I still found it to be compelling and not so much depressing as harrowing The apocalypse of the Norman invasion may have left the globe at large much as it had been before it occurred – changes in regime happen every day after all – but it was no less world ending for that to the people that lived through it and came out the other side into a world a reality which they could no longer understandThe Wake is a fine piece of historical fiction that not only incorporates a truly intriguing narrative techniue and linguistic structure but also proves to be a powerful meditation on loss culture and the ways we define ourselves as both individuals and members of a wider community Definitely recommended though not for the faint of heart

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The WakeS “a shadow tongue” a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable to the modern reader The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction To enter Buccmaster’s world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past A tale of lost gods and haunted visions The Wake is both a sensational gripping story and a major literary achievemen. 45 I've always wanted historical fiction written like this To feel like I was reading something of another older world but not hard work like Chaucer or Beowulf So I'd probably have read The Wake anyway regardless of the Booker Prize it's just that I only heard of it a day or two before the longlist announcement via I think a Guardian comment from book blogger John Self who has since reviewed the novel for The Times behind paywall haven't read it At that point when I looked at the Goodreads book page I was delighted to see an average rating of 428 and several reviews clearly the book was already being found by the right people And as I expected with it being longlisted people who don't like it and can't read it are now trying it and giving 1 and 2 stars it surprises me how many people don't read a few pages before buying a book But is it better to have a grateful niche audience and less money or higher sales including people who noisily don't appreciate a work plus a few extra fans That not hard work As mentioned in a few other reviews I generally just don't bother with fiction where specialist knowledge helps if I haven't got it Things that helped here included knowledge of the relevant history including pre Christian religions familiarity with accents and dialects of Northern England and southern Scotland beornin heard in an old Durham accent made sense instantly understanding of the general patterns of Old English without actually knowing the language Germanic languages would help a lot too And a thing which must have a proper name switching gears where language is concerned and understanding it through feeling and sound than thinking this felt the same as reading paragraphs of text speak and youth slang except that I was interested I've always had a knack for silently working out slang based on context and instinct which is very useful if you're an easily embarrassed kid who doesn't want people to know you're easily embarrassed The Wake is best read in big chunks and when fairly awake so you stay inside its idiom and remember the vocab; it gets faster as you go along Also read the afterwords first and if you're on an e reader print out the glossary unless your OE German Dutch Scandinavian is good enough that you won't need it Having been vaguely interested in Paul Kingsnorth's non fiction already it maybe wasn't so surprising to find a writer with views I'm very sympathetic to Have recently read several of the articles on his website He also had mystical feelings about landscape from an early age and studied history someone who likewise hankers for a vivid felt sense of the past whilst having come to understand that we can really only see it through ourselves and our own time The shadow tongue in which The Wake is written panders skilfully to the feeling of what it was like but it's not authentic it's a twenty first century constructed pidgin of modern and Old English although nearly all of the words are of Anglo Saxon origin This combination of ancient and modern shares the ethos of neo paganism Pedants familiar with Old English may find it annoying but knowing OE wouldn't necessarily preclude a reader from enjoying the writer's creative games with languageLikewise there are contradictory layers to the narrator Buccmaster and his story This is a post apocalyptic historical novel whose phrase that was I can't remember and Kingsnorth mentions in his afterword that few British people know how awful the aftermath of the Norman Conuest was He points out the effects on land ownership and the class system but the Harrowing of the North still has its effects today in the North South economic divide A cheesy obviously didactic historical novel would set out to show this using sympathetic characters Buccmaster pre Hastings is a self important Lincolnshire sokeman or yeoman farmer easy to imagine as a burly Daily Mail reader forever complaining about taxes and red tape always expecting something to be done about things without contribution from him and his perfectly able household and also something of a Walter Mitty dreamer all talk and little sporadic action He's not exactly central casting's budding rebel outlaw type nor does he experience a chrysalid transmutation of personality at his country's hour of needNo sensible reader would expect a man of the eleventh century to be PC and peaceful but he's unusual among his contemporaries for being essentially pagan His grandfather remained secretly loyal to the old gods and was a great inspiration to Buccmaster The narrator's conversations with Weland and visions of Woden echo Robin of Sherwood's relationship with Herne the Hunter given Kingsnorth's age I'd bet he watched the series as a kid teenager There are various other echoes such as Lincolnshire green men a Little John like giant etc I'm deeply sympathetic to this pagan aspect and viewed it as a positive side of Buccmaster's character I also rooted for the Wicker Man people I don't like violence but it was some kind of satisfying counterbalance to all the conversion and martyrdom stories from a Catholic perspective I read as a child I'd guess the author has pagan leanings too But the book is well constructed such that a negative interpretation of this side of the character is eually possible; as his contemporaries do a reader could also see Buccmaster's paganism as inevitably connected with his episodes of madness Whereas I consider his main problem is egotism and tyranny and that as far as the old gods are concerned he's merely guilty from time to time of that very English fault to find taking things a bit too far One has to also take into account that the supernatural was an accepted part of every day life before the age of reason although that doesn't mean that all dreams and visions were automatically accepted as the reception of Margery Kempe and Joan of Arc indicate Alongside the moments of too modern religious doubt of all religions this story of the once well established man become an outlaw on the run is a common motif in several of this year's Booker longlisted titles a comment on creeping authoritarian aspects of contemporary life Kingsnorth a former road protestor and environmental journalist evidently means something along those lines also re globalisation He may be another white middle class man as many have said there are too many of on the list and an Oxbridge one to boot but he seems the sort who seriously mucks in and sees how it is perhaps not uite in so much depth as Orwell but same ethos But he is circumspect enough to consider in his narrative why resistance seems futile or even harmful to some And hidden under Buccmaster's veneration of the old gods and concept of pre Norman pre Christian England as somehow the real deal a popular idea at least since the Victorians is the knowledge that before the Anglo Saxons there were the wealsc now inhabiting the far west whom the Germanic invaders conuered and that there were other people before the wealsc too He is outraged that people like himself are made thralls; the geburs and thralls his own people held are mentioned made obvious and human to the reader but to Buccmaster they remain beneath him Love of the English countryside and history is abundant in the writing but not without knowledge of the potential for xenophobia within these sentiments I admire the sense of balance in this novel that it passionately understands why something is worth fighting for but simultaneously what might be wrong about that or about the way it's done and that any one time is just part of a long cycle of takeovers and oppressions and the mythical past of perfect freedom always was mythical even if certain aspects of life were or are better at one time or another It combines the historian's long view with the political activist's immediate outlook and seriously creative use of language as rarely found in books of that sort Another post here