Young Will and his brother Ned are called away from their home in East Anglia to King Edward’s Welsh wars to dig the foundations for his new castle at Flint, intended as part of his campaign to bring Prince Llewellyn to heel once and for all. Will is the younger of the brothers but takes responsibility for Ned, who is strange and otherworldly. Ned is a mute, a musician, an herbalist and healer, who has been taught his arts by an accomplished Welsh bard, Ieuan ap y Gof – but what is a Welsh bard doing in the heart of the East Anglian fens? As the boys travel into the heart of Wales, they find their answer, but there is danger on all sides and nothing is as it seems.
Flint is a book that sits well in both the young adult and adult markets. Its particular strength is the poetry of the language and the way it draws the reader into a stark, beautiful, dangerous mediaeval world, so rounded out and tactile that I believed I was there. It’s a wonderful, miniature gem of a novel. The reader will need to concentrate as the novel does flick about in time, but once absorbed into the rhythm, it’s a highly rewarding, skilled piece of writing. One for my keeper shelf.