Harald: A simple family man, a teller of tales, who happens to be the most powerful general of his people, home of the cataphracts, much feared warriors. Some, like the young king of the neighboring kingdom, James of Kaerlia, might underestimate him because he doesn’t bother bedeck himself in the court garb to which he was entitled. No one underestimates Harald twice.
A hundred years earlier another young king, dreaming of brave deeds and rich plunder east of the mountains, brought a force from the Kingdom to take the Vales. An army three thousand strong tried to force the pass at Raven Stream. A thousand men of the Vales and their allies the Westkin held them. After three days the King’s men gave up and went home. It wasn’t water the ravens drank.
Four times in the past twenty years the Empire has invaded Kaerlia’s land, seeking to bring it under their rule. Four times were they sent home with their tails between their legs. Now the Empire is sending its best legions again to the north. Only by a return to the grand alliance of Kingdom, Vales & Ladies of the Order can they hope to withstand the disciplined and blooded invading army. But young James has picked a fight with the Order, picked a fight with Harald himself. Young men are not always wise, nor fond of peace. The new king wants war again. And again, the ravens will drink.
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 4.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
David D. Friedman describes himself as an anarchist-anachronist-economist, and is the author of both textbooks and popular books on economics. His latest is Law’s Order: What Economics Has to Do With Law and Why it Matters(Princeton University Press). Dr. Friedman attended Harvard and the University of Chicago and is frequently called on to comment on libertarian economics by the media. He teaches at Santa Clara University in law, business and economics and lives in a 97-year-old house in San Jose, CA with his wife and three children. A long-time member of the Society forCreative Anachronism, Friedman is an expert on medieval weapons, clothing, cooking and the author of numerous articles on topics from how to tie a turban to Norse riddles.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This story is told largely in noun phrases and sentence fragments, and as such reads something like a movie being described - pictures, but one is unsure sometimes of who the actor is, and what the action. The elliptical sentences are echoed in sometimes elliptical plot elements, wherein this reader occasionally wondered what was really supposed to be happening. We also never get inside anyone's head - the story is told purely by observation. The story takes place in a made-up medieval land, where there is a King, an Emperor, a leader of men, and an Order of fighting Ladies that somehow feel like Crusaders (since they are of a fighting Order). We follow Harald most of the time, but do not know what he plans, or what his goals might be. The book provides a good feel for the medieval passage of time - that is, one recovering from a wound is stuck someplace for awhile. He earns his keep by helping with chores, and with stories told. But he keeps his own council, and we do not know what he intends.An unusually told medieval-style tale. Parts are excellent, but the extravagent use of sentence fragments makes me welcome a complete sentence where it occurs. And much of the time I was on the ragged edge of understanding what was happening.
Declaration of bias -- I know the author, and I know that this affected how willing I was to keep reading. I greatly enjoyed the book, but it uses a very terse, elliptical style that took some time to get used to, and I think this will cause many readers to bounce off the prose. I would strongly suggest finding excerpts (I think there are some on the Baen website somewhere) and reading to see if you like the style.That said, this is a solid first novel with an interesting story and some likeable characters. It's an alternative history book that's firmly grounded in reality -- with one minor exception, not obvious to the reader, everything is physically plausible. And I am impressed with the way Friedman has worked some of his liberatarian philosophy into the book without hitting the reader over the head with it. Too much political speculative fiction involves blatant sermons--this book uses a much more subtle showing-rather-than-telling approach and is so much better for it. It adds depth to the story rather than turning it into a political tract. It's not going to be to everyone's taste, but if you can handle the elliptical prose style it's an enjoyable read.
Harald, written by David D. Freidman is the story of a legendary war leader able to protect his people from an aggressivly expanding empire. It is a fantasy set in a time period of archery and armor (approx. 1200 A.D.). As a story it is a tale of war and leadership, strategy and tactics. Its greatest streagth is the feeling that it is written by a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, its ability to describe the feel of the time period is memerable and makes the contests descibed the the book that much more real. As a treatise on war it emphsizes that little known precept that war is successfully waged (and won) by the intellegent in a given society. In addition if one wanted to know the value of logistics one would only need to read Harald to understand that armies move on their bellies. As a fantasy Harald works quite well and the author is careful to avoid both the horrors of war and the unwholesome vagories of mankind. This makes the book more enjoyable and presentable to children, however it then tends to romaticise warfare to a degree that one looks forward to the charactures engaging in the endever as opposed to regretting the entire issue. The charactures themselves sometimes tend to speak in shorthand and more than once this reader had to reread an exchange to understand who was speaking and about what. However that tended to make the book more enjoyable as it gave the feel that the reader was spying on individuals from a different culture with a different set of morals, allthough Harald, the primary characture, clearly has had a post Renaissance brush with western style independence and prudence. As a student of war and warfare I found the book enjoyable and look forward to any further attempts by David Freidman within this domain, perhaps with a little magic?