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||Jan. 28, 2010
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Educated in a Silk Road kingdom, two young men return to their homeland in 1066 Dark Age England. Trained as horse warriors, one is a surgeon and the other is a rich trader and expert in animal husbandry.
Two brothers who are Nestorians, regarded as an heretical Christian sect, escape slavery in a Silk Road kingdom and reach William the Conqueror’s 1066 England. Literate, educated, they bring enlightened knowledge of the East into backward, ignorant Western Europe. One is a physician, in fact a surgeon when the best medical treatment at the time included leeches, bleeding and magic potions. Find out their fate in the novel 1066 THE HEALER.
Godfroi jerked awake with a headache on a bad nightmare. The singing of steel sharp across the clearing only acerbated the sick feeling in his stomach. He lifted up from his bedroll under the cart and looked through the spokes of the wheel. Riennes and Haralde were dancing at it again in the early dawn.
The grump buried deep within rose up. This part of himself he rarely let out. Only this time it escaped. It came out from his warm bed and stumped across to where the dust rose around the two. At the business with the kandos, he shouted. “ENOUGH!”
Haralde and Riennes reacted not immediately, but seemed to wind down their speed until they slowed to a stop, then stepped back and disengaged. They both turned and looked with some perturbation at the monk. “What disturbs thee?”
“You, both,” mumbled Godfroi pressing his hands to his ears. “Those knives, the noise, my sleep.”
The two looked at each other, then lifted the kandos over their heads and slid them into their scabbards.
Godfroi rubbed his tummy where it rumbled so audibly even Riennes and Haralde heard it. “I do not feel good. And after our discussions last night about weapons and killing, I would have thought you would leave off this fighting thing.”
“I thought it was about agriculture, rams or something,” suggested Haralde turning to Riennes with a quizzical, innocent expression.
“We are sorry dear fellow,” replied Riennes who turned to Godfroi. “Tis probably last night’s chicken. A bit off. Maybe a good bath in yon creek water hole might set thee up. We are about to baptize ourselves. Join us? ”
The monk shook his head. “No, no, no. You must listen to me. You both must put away your arms in the cart and we must take a moment to pray for a peaceful day’s passing.”
“Thee know Riennes may be right,” Haralde nodded his head in agreement. “I do not want to insult thee good monk, but there is a rankness about your person, especially when one gets downwind. And those bugs. Do not thee agree?”
Godfroi now had his head in his hands. “NO, no, no!” For the first time in a long time, he heard himself shout. Embarrassed, he looked through the bars of his fingers, and caught a look of guile pass between the two young men. Were those small smiles forming at the corner of their lips?
That angered Godfroi. He dropped his hands and was about to yell at them when Riennes farted.
The monk’s anger choked in mid fury. His mouth fell open and he looked aghast.
Riennes chuckled. He pushed Haralde sideways, and at that moment, Haralde farted. And before the monk’s eyes, what had been two grown men standing before him, turned into two little boys playing at pranks. Riennes fell to his knees with a face turning red with laughter. When Haralde barked another one, he too bent over and laughed.
The monk had no way of knowing, but what looked like an insult to provoke him, in reality held great meaning for the two big men, tears starting to well up in their eyes.
For farting was a humour the two had played as slaves. It was an improvement not only for the body, but also for their souls. It was a silliness that had played a large part in their survival, a shield against death and cruelty two little boys were witness to daily. These were two young children locked in iron together. Often at night on the rough food they had been fed, their young developing stomachs churned gaseous when they lay down. It became a game. They would hold sphincter muscles tight for as long as they could. Through the night, they would hold each other to keep warm. When they took turns spooning each other’s bodies, that was the time for the inside one to let one go into the stomach of the outer, then laugh. The one who exploded with the loudest, the smelliest, the greater was the coup and the deeper the merriment. It lessened the depth of their sadness. “God you are awful,” the victim would cry waving metal-shackled hands in front of him while the other tried to muffle laughter under a cupped hand. The shout of “Quiet there. Quiet!” and maybe the lash of an overseer’s quirt across their bodies would actually be the joke’s ultimate reward.
Godfroi’s reserve was on the point of breaking as he took the antics as an insult to his station and his wish for them to obey him.
“LISTEN TO A CHRISTIAN MONK, YOU HERETICS!” he shouted at the top of his voice at the two men mocking him. About to curse them, the worst thing possible happened.
Peels of greater laughter greeted his entry into their cult.
Two grown men were laughing in front of him and there was nothing the monk could do. Except he farted again.
Then, the gaseous comment brought on a sudden need to vacate himself.
The last Riennes and Haralde saw of Godfroi for the next hour was that of their holy man, bare legs and sandaled feet flying, woolen cloak held up by his hands, bearing for immediate relief in the sanctuary of the deeper forest.
Historical Novel Society
The neat, clever conceit animating John Wright's novel 1066 The Healer is a simple persistent reminder to the complacency of modern-day readers, perhaps especially American readers: the East never had a so-called Dark Ages. While eleven-century Europe was mired in war and barbarism,rife with village superstition and almost devoid of cultural or philosophical advanced levels of science and art. Wright's novel dramatizes this by having two young boys kidnapped by Vikings and sold into slavery in the East, where they quickly rise to positions of favor in the court of a powerful khan. When they escape and find their way back to the England of William the Conqueror, they experience severe cultural shock - their homeland can be a startlingly primitive place. The framework is clever, but Wright's two main characters are the exremely winning center of this novel. Riennes de Montford is the healer of the book's title, a sensetive young man whose command of Arabic medicinal techniques makes him the most skilful doctor in England, and his companion, the young warrior Haralde, is often a wonderful foil and counterbalance to Riennes (a sequel to The Healer, centering on Haralde is promised and should prove lots of fun). The chemistry between the two only deepens as the novel's many twists and turns proliferate.
The front cover is very eye catching with the bold four color graphics, the stark white background, the black font, and the green frame. I like seeing a picture of the author on the back cover. There are no glaring grammatical or technical errors. The dialogue is well written, strong and true to each character. I like the fact that most of the chapters end on hooks of varying degrees. In 1066 The Healer, John Wright creates vivid characters in an interesting setting with scenes that will have readers turning pages as fast as their eyes can absorb lthe words.
"What woman wouldn't fall in love with Riennes."
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