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In 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. lif is a raedel for dumb folc but the things i has seen it is not lic they sae the bocs and the preosts the bells the laws of the crist it is not like they sae this is a good boc about a triewe anglisc man who was feotan the ingengas who cwelled harold cyng he is buccmaster a socman with three oxgangs but the fuccan frencs beorned his hus and his wifman so he macs himself a grene man who lifs in the holt hwit the treows

SUMMARY The Wake

The Wake

S “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. I suspect if I read this again it might get an extra star I ve certainly been thinking about it enough in the three weeks since I finished it I tend to like the idea of experimental novels than I like the execution so this was a welcome exception to that I thought it was marvellousWhen I look over my reading habits they tend to ebb and flow in certain directions The Wake for me hit the end ish of a phase of playing with storytelling conventions and the early blossoming of an enthusiasm for old and middle English I ve got a book on King Arthur going on in the background my non fiction reading has tended to the millennium old of late and oh yes twenty points if you guessed it I ve finally managed to nick a hardback copy of The Buried Giant off my friend More on that as I inevitably start cooing over it The point is that I was in the right headspace to be thinking about a novel set just after the invasion of Britain in 1066 and really that s what kept me going The language in The Wake creates a sense of place like I ve never seen it before I can only imagine how tough it was to write how many knots it tied Paul Kingsnorth s brain into After a few hours of reading this you start conceptualising the world differently It did something to the pace of my day and I m not sure what Sometimes it was exhausting or disconcerting but either way it s stuck with meIt s tempting to say that the point of The Wake is the language but I don t think that s true The language is certainly what jumps out at you but the content of the story is still the thing Buccmaster of Holland his name as I correctly guessed and Kingsnorth apologetically confirmed in the afterword a bit of an anachronism in itself is a man out of time Desperate to be taken seriously he remembers the stories his grandfather told him about the old days the time before when men were heroes When the French come killing his family and peers and taking everything he has he struggles to regain and keep the place he used to have in the worldIt s his place in the world that he s had taken from him It s the esteem of others that he wants or needs Buccmaster is bluntly a little shit and all of the other characters have an awful lot of patience But there s something sinister under the attitude something just below the surface all the way through Like the best of detective novels when you get to the end you can look back and point to all the clues As you re going along it s another matter When the moment of truth comes it doesn t come where or how you expect I was shocked It was signposted everywhere but I was shocked I love being taken for a fool by an author who knows what they re doingAbout the author Paul Kingsnorth has another project that I ve been following for the last nine months or so the literary journal called the Dark Mountain Project Partly I love getting beautiful hardbacks full of tales of the apocalypse in the post Partly though the Dark Mountain Project confuses me it s got a high esteem for how things used to be and the things we as a society have ostensibly lost I sympathise a whole lot I do for all that I love and make a living from being really connected to a lot of the world all of the time and at high speed I do sometimes miss the times when I didn t have internet access and didn t feel anxious about it I joke about knitting and spinning and darning and the various accoutrements of my Girl Guiding days as being part of my post apocalyptic skill set but I still have one eye on making sure that Me Without Electricity is not Me Without A HopeFor all Paul Kingsnorth s sheep farm and articles about missing middle England I still think mate you ve just crowdfunded your book You probably got half your research and your audience via the internet And reading The Wake I think he s aware of this fact than I gave him credit for even in 1067AD Buccmaster of Holland is already pining for the old days when men was men and giants walked the earth That glorious past where everything was right is an imagined village it never existed If we want it we need to go to it not go back to it But just because a collectively imagined or in Buccmaster s case individually imagined history never happened doesn t mean it can t mean something We ve just got to be a bit careful of it that s all If nothing else The Wake has something to say about that And you may believe me when I say that it is not messing aroundSo here you go a great story interestingly told curiously produced by people who are obviously bibliophiles and with something important and unusual to say Don t be put off by the language if you managed Trainspotting this ll be a breeze You won t have read anything else like this lately It ll get the old cogs grinding and if you re anything like me you ll really enjoy it

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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. AstoundingWritten in a shadow version of 11th century English which is incredibly evocative this is stark and brutal and magical An invaded country groups of men driven to the woods and fens a land haunted by dying gods where Christianity is the first invader Told by a magnificent creation buccmaster of holland an inarticulate rage filled brutal man consumed by paranoia and self doubt that expresses itself in visions of Odin as Wayland Smith This is a magnificent book The author has tried to restrict the vocabulary to pre Norman English and the poverty of language is incredibly expessive the struggles for expression the grinding repetition It s a difficult struggling dying language like the story it tells deop in the eorth where no man sees around the roots of the treow sleeps a great wyrm and this wyrm what has slept since before all time this wyrm now slow slow slow this wyrm begins to mofIt s pretty hard work at first and takes slow reading but my God it s worth it


10 thoughts on “The Wake

  1. says:

    lif is a raedel for dumb folc but the things i has seen it is not lic they sae the bocs and the preosts the bells the laws of the crist it is not like they sae this is a good boc about a triewe anglisc man who was feotan the ingengas who cwelle

  2. says:

    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

  3. says:

    After the Norman invasion of England the French ravage and burn One man Buccmaster returns to his home to find nothing but

  4. says:

    Outstanding novel about a landowner in Lincolnshire – Buccmaster of Holland – set in the years 1066 1068 Buccmaster even before the Norman invasion is apart from his fellow fen dwellers still like his grandfather but not his father a follower of the Old Gods and a rejecter of the Church; also someone convince

  5. says:

    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 di

  6. says:

    AstoundingWritten in a shadow version of 11th century English which is incredibly evocative this is stark and brutal and magical An invaded country groups of men driven to the woods and fens a land haunted by dying gods where Christianity is the first invader Told by a magnificent creation buccmaster of holland an inart

  7. says:

    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

  8. says:

    I suspect if I read this again it might get an extra star I've certainly been thinking about it enough in the three weeks since I finished it I

  9. says:

    Well that was uite a leap Can't say I've ever gone from one star to five before But I revisited and finished this book and it turns out to be the impressive achievement that its fans claim It's a masterful stream of consciousness narrative told by a deeply unreliable narrator and one of the most compelling and chilling depictions of mental illness that I've ever read It's also a beautifully crafted example o

  10. says:

    35 This has just won the Bookseller book of the year award; I wish I could say I appreciated it Kingsnorth calls his Booker longlisted fiction debut “a post apocalyptic novel set 1000 years in the past” Written in the author’s own version of Old English the story traces the English guerrilla resistance movement that followed the Norman

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