Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Review ~ The Oblate’s Confession, by William Peak

27 October 2014

Book Review ~ The Oblate’s Confession, by William Peak

7th century England: Christianity is a new force in the land and pagan rites survive in the surrounding hills and mountains. Plague sweeps across the countryside, its path marked by death and destruction. In keeping with a practice common at the time, an Anglo-Saxon warrior donates his youngest child to the monastery of Redestone, sentencing the boy to spend the rest of his life as a monk. This child, called an oblate, will grow up in the abbey knowing little of his family, his existence haunted by vague memories of a former life and the questions those memories provoke.

Available for pre-order from Amazon US and Amazon UK

William Peak’s evocative images of Dark Age Britain are haunting and convincing. The Oblate’s Confession has a slow pace and demands the reader's attention, so is a book to save for the long winter months. The rewards are there, however, as it raises many questions that are as relevant today as they were in medieval times.

I was fascinated by the details of life in a monastery, the hardships and challenges that were presumably taken for granted at the time. The almost poetic narrative unfolds to give a real sense of what it must have been like as the new Christian religion swept across a Britain where plagues and sacrifice were part of everyday life.

Recommended for anyone who would like to look beyond what have been dismissively called 'the Dark Ages' and understand a little more of our medieval heritage. The Oblate’s Confession is a book I suspect I will return to.

Tony Riches

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