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Joan Schweighardt Giveaway
1 Winner


Last Wife of Attila the Hun
by Joan Schweighardt

Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde

Historical Fiction [5th Century Burgundy, France]
ISBN 9781513702087

Gudrun has seen her people crushed by Attila The Hun and, armed only with a cursed sword and an assumed name, sets out to destroy him. She walks right into his camp and is instantly captured, but even Attila is loath to execute the bringer of such a magnificent gift, and she is spared. She soon finds a reluctant ally and sets her plan in motion, but while she sits alone in her prison during the day looks back on the extraordinary events that have brought her and her people the Burgundians to such a pass.

This tale is based on elements from the Poetic Eddas and, like many other good books, treads the narrow path between literary and popular fiction, retaining something of each and appealing to a wide audience. As it is set in a period so different from ours, the characters in it believe in all kinds of magical happenings and we hear of dragon hoards and immortal dwarves, but wisely all the action is strictly of the sort that is both possible and plausible. This is a story therefore that fantasy fans may well enjoy, but it is emphatically not a fantasy. Instead there is the psychological tension between captor and captive and the doomed saga-style relationships, as well as historical details from an under-used and little-known period of history. Some authors might have made a meal out of the tale to be told and its unusual background and produced a chunky tome, but here is a comparatively slim book with a big story to tell. Possibly the most praiseworthy thing of all in my opinion are the characters themselves, who are totally unlike modern people and are thus at home in their distant time and both alien and fascinating to us to read about. But every pleasure has its alloy and the one here was the lack of maps or a glossary, necessitating a trip to the computer to scan an encyclopedia and some websites to find out geographical details and the meaning of some terms. It made me want to know more about the period, but for a more complete experience, a map at least would have helped enormously.

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