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The First Village*

A Knight’s Tale in Old Wales

If you look at the cover of this book, you might think that it is a serious work of historical fiction. It is anything but! In fact, it reminds me very much of Heath Ledger’s movie A Knight’s Tale in its approach to history. The author doesn’t even attempt to use what some would think of as historical language, or any other sort of elevated speech. I’ll admit my eyebrows lifted when I saw one character call another a “meanie.” While the places and the politics of the novel are based in truth, the characters themselves are fictional. The story is about a cultural shift, when the Romans were leaving Britannia after having lived and ruled there for over 300 years. What does that mean for the soldiers, some of whom do not want to go back to a place they’ve never known and perhaps their families have never been from? What does that mean for all of the various tribes around Britannia, who often engaged in internecine battles before the Romans? There’s also a romance at the heart of this book, and I found the couple to be an intriguing one to watch. This book is full of humor: slapstick, dry, and tongue in cheek. Again if you enjoyed the movie A Knight’s Tale, you would most likely enjoy this book.

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