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Book Review: The Hammer and the Cross

Harry Harrison is best known for his SF, but he also wrote some alternate history I didn't know about until quite recently. I checked out The Hammer and the Cross, the first in a Viking/Anglo-Saxon alternate history and loved it. I loved it so much that the moment I finished the first one, I scurried, hedgehog-like, off to the library to find Vol 2 and Vol 3. Which I also proceeded to devour like so much tasty quasi-historical fiction.

Why are these books so much fun? Well, because Harrison understands plot and pacing, and he offers a lot of little nods to anyone who knows the history and culture of the period. He's written a lot of ripping yarns, and while they aren't great literature, they are great fun. Not to mention, pagans versus christians and Vikings versus everybody.

Maybe I've read a few too many 600-page bricks lately, but it was refreshing to see a well-plotted novel without the endless expository side notes or the long character arcs or what have you. Definitely worth the 91 cent price on Amazon, or a visit to the library.

This is a novel of action, adventure, and just a little intrigue — trashy beach reading for the historically-minded.

The Hammer and the Cross ★★★★☆

On the nightstand for future reading:

Spin, Robert Charles Wilson
Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, S. Baring-Gould
Relax, You're Already Home (Taoist practice in everyday life), Raymond Barnett
The Fantasy Writer's Assistant, and Other Stories, Jeffrey Ford


( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )
(Deleted comment)
May. 14th, 2006 03:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, three volumes, with more culture bits and more medieval technology in each succeeding volume.

I'd be curious to see your take on them.
May. 17th, 2006 10:58 am (UTC)
His co-author on that one was Tom Shippey, one of the Campbell Award jurors, which is why they didn't give this book the award back when it came out even though the juors (I wasn't one then) loved it.

SPIN: I love this book.
( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )

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