1066: Knight Haralde
In Wright’s previous volume, 1066: The Healer, readers were introduced to young Riennes de Montford, the physician, and his brother Haralde Longshield, long-lost heir to a Welsh fiefdom. The two young men had been stranded in the Far East, learning ways of war and healing unknown to the barbaric England of the 11th century. Throughout that earlier book, readers got to delight in Wright’s invigorating narrative and obvious joy at telling his tale, and those readers might have thought a happy ending was in store at the end of the book when young Haralde is restored to his rightful rule. But in the sequel (Wright is careful to make this book independently readable from its predecessor), happy endings seem far away: Riennes and Haralde face lots more violence—which Wright describes with thrilling economy—and stubborn local resistance to Haralde’s rule. The book’s underlying conceit—its tacit acknowledgment of the superiority of medieval Eastern society in matters of art, literature, and healing—is never played too hard, and it lends a thought-provoking edge to what is already an extremely enjoyable tale of friendship and adventure. Recommended.