Beguiled

Beguiled

by Alice Borchardt
     
 

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In this conclusion of their story, Owen, Bishop of Chantalon, and his lady Elin realize how hollow their victory was over the Viking raiders who threatened their community in "Devoted". The Vikings are encamped nearby, marshalling their strength. Setting off to seek help from his kinsmen, Owen is captured by a community of Bretons who set as their price for his

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Overview

In this conclusion of their story, Owen, Bishop of Chantalon, and his lady Elin realize how hollow their victory was over the Viking raiders who threatened their community in "Devoted". The Vikings are encamped nearby, marshalling their strength. Setting off to seek help from his kinsmen, Owen is captured by a community of Bretons who set as their price for his freedom his renunciation of Elin. Meanwhile, Elin, charged with preserving the town of Chantalon, faces the desperate treachery of those who were supposed to be her allies.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this chivalric sequel to her medieval saga Devoted, Borchardt returns to ninth-century France and the city of Chantalon, where the bishop, Owen, and his wife, Elin, confront Viking raids and treachery as they try to bring peace to their people. Hoping to fortify his meager troops, Owen, with the aid of the mysterious forest people, journeys to his father's stronghold to entreat his aid. Instead, he is captured by a hedonistic community of Bretons who offer him safety and peace for his people if he agrees to be their kingand death if he does not. As Owen undertakes this hero's journey, Elin is left to defend Chantalon against treason and a deceptive inciter sent by the Viking lord Hakon. Like her sister, Anne Rice (who contributes an introduction to this novel, as she did to Devoted), Borchardt delights in wordiness and overwrought prose, especially in her graphic depictions of sex (in language way over the purple top) and war (complete with disembowelings, beheadings, etc.). Fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley and other purveyors of historic fantasy and adventure will enjoy the richly rendered historic detail with which Borchardt embellishes her baroque portrait of a turbulent, violent time. (Jan.) In November 1949, St. Paul lawyer Richard MacEwan travels by train to North Dakota where he will claim the body of his brother James, who was killed, apparently in a hunting accident. Six months later, in April 1950, near the end of this absorbing narrative, Richard learns from James's friend Henry Finch something closer to the truth about his brother's death. The intervening pages of this first novel from Clark (biographer of James Beard in The Solace of Food) develop the story of the Midwestern Mac-Ewan family as though it were a photograph of extraordinary detail in the midwinter tints of gray and blue. Richard's daughter, Anna, divorced and the mother of a son, begins a relationship with a married man, Charles Norden, that leads to pregnancy. Richard's wife, Sarah, disapproves, although Charles claims to be close to a divorce. The theme of the truth about James's death is intertwined, from beginning to end, with Anna's dilemma and ongoing reflections on Christian philosophy. Sober in tone, moral in content, Clark's vision, especially in matters of adultery, is deeply considered and humane. His characters are fundamentally decent and substantial people who, while believing in moral absolutes, are drawn away by the lure of that other human absolutelove. Clark uses a tight structure to think through a moral issue in mature prose. Still, the achievement here is his depiction of the more elemental process of how people come to consciousness amidst the accrual of a lifetime's overlays of knowledge and meaning. Intelligent and perceptive, this first novel combines meticulous craftsmanship with a serious moral imagination.
Library Journal
Borchardt is a far more profound author than her sister, Anne Rice. Instead of spinning superficial fantasy with bad poetry, Borchardt is a literary lion who is well grounded in reality. Yes, Beguiled, the sequel to Devoted (Audio Reviews, LJ 1/96), is a fabulous love story, but it's also a focused, carefully researched book that paints the human condition against a backdrop of Brittany in the melancholy ninth century and the waves of Viking invaders that, over a century, changed the face of Europe. While there are minute historical flaws, so profound is Borchardt's understanding of the era's psychology and the transition from Druid magic to Christian miracles that few will notice. The recording takes us into Viking war councils and presents such details of daily life as the everyday diet, justice, medicine, entertainment, and vices of a demoralized society that, thanks in part to the new religion, is finally getting its act together. Beguiled is full of war, treachery, and the lustful passions of a youthful society. Michael Page dramatizes the work like a master. Until you have heard him roar, you have never heard rage on tape. This saga will keep listeners in thrall; highly recommended.-James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
Anne Rice's older sister, an energetic scene-setter, winds up her two-volume saga of tenth-century Europe begun with 1995's Devoted.

A romance with elements of fantasy, Devoted told of the clash between Christianity and paganism. A raiding party of Vikings invaded the bishopric of Chantalon. Facing them were Chantalon's 23-year-old bishop, Owen, and his wife, Lady Elin of the Forest People, a pagan witch who called forth storms to drown the invaders. Borchardt wades into her sequel now with the returned Northmen trying to take charge of the river on which Chantalon lies. Owen and Elin discover this while they are out spying, looking over the Northmen's winter buildup for a spring offensive. Each page of Borchardt's relentless novel is composed of three parts gripping research and description to one part plot: A great deal of action is required to keep the narrative lively, and Borchardt supplies it. Movie stunts invade the script as well, with an unlikely swordfight between Owen and the Viking Hakon staged in the mud. Though Elin's witch-powers help rescue Owen from the Northmen, who have their own witches, she becomes pregnant after being raped by a Viking, while, throughout, she and Owen waver between ardor and recriminations. Since Chantalon hasn't enough men to defend itself for long, much less launch an attack against Hakon, Owen goes off to Britanny in search of allies, where he's offered help if he'll renounce Elin and marry a nobleman's daughter. Desperate, he agrees. Meanwhile, Hakon sends 12 berserkers to kill Owen and to steal Gynneth, Owen's bride. Although Owen (befriended by a philosopher magician, Elutides) slays the 12, Hakon nevertheless captures Elin, who's about to give birth, causing Owen to return for a final showdown with the Viking.

Skulls split down to the teeth while hormonal interplay again reaches the same pulsing soft-porn hazes as in Devoted. Basically a lusty romance, with a gory overlay of duels and ambushes.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525942726
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
01/01/1997
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
9.26(w) x 6.46(h) x 1.51(d)

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