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Saxon's Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion
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Saxon's Bane

by Geoffrey Gudgion

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Showing 5 of 5
Two stars simply because part of the book was well done.

Saxon’s Bane starts out well. The anthropology is done well, and the Saxon history is spot on. Some of the history of the Old Ways is well done: The Old Way teaches us that all living things are sacred, that there is a life force in everything and connecting everything. Gudgion speaks of the Christian church, and how they took over, folding the myths and religion into the church to pull the locals into changing to the new religion of Christianity. How so many of the Christian tenants, such as Easter, as timed and based upon the Old Ways in order to fold what they called “pagans” into the New Religion.

I was well pleased to read the first part of what the book covered, and settled in, thinking I would enjoy the book. Then, Gudgion got completely off track, and totally ruined the book for me. From being solid and well versed in both the Old Ways and the New, he suddenly turned to stealing the sacred from the Old Ways, turning to the old saw of Wicca being “evil” and “devil worshiping.” This based upon the Horned God of the Old Way being turned into the “Devil” by the New Religion. Since the church said that the Horned God was the Devil, well then, it must be so, right? OH, how ignorant and how very nauseating.

Gudgion uses superstition and hated to turn the story into simply another ignorant rant against the Old Ways, having a sweet and caring follower of the Old Way say of Esbat: It’s used for a ritual curse” and going downhill from there. His knowledge of the Old Ways is patently ignorant and false, especially as even the most careless of searches clearly delineate the definition of Esbat as being 180 degrees from what the author tries to make it out to be. The word Esbat is of French origin, from s’esbattre, which loosely translates to “frolic joyfully.” In addition to frolicking, this is a time to commune with the gods, give thanks, and enjoy the Cake and Ale Ceremony. In no way is it designed to “devil worship” or perform “ritual curses.” Wiccan is not about that.

Christianity defined Wicca and witchcraft as “evil devil worshiping” as a way to override the Old Ways and place Christianity in it’s stead. Those burned at the stake and otherwise murdered were mostly healers, herbalists and other practitioners of the Old Way, caring for their families, villages and animals. Real Wicca was, and is, all about celebration, healing, honouring the seasons and positive influences. Only those who wish to defy and insult Christianity conduct Black ritual, and those people are NOT true Wiccan – they are basing their whole ritual in the Catholic church and it’s teachings, not in Wicca. Were there ritual sacrifices in the old days? Most assuredly. They were carried out by every religion, from Mayans to Egyptians, Saxons to Christians. What else is the hanging of Jesus on the cross if not a sacrifice?

I can’t decide whether Gudgion had a split in his psychology halfway through the novel, or if he intended to draw in the reader and then pounce with his superstitious nonsense. Or if someone else picked up the book half-way through and finished it themselves – someone with no knowledge and less intellect. Gudgion is “superstitious” in that he indulges in a total lack of research and/or knowledge in his statements, pushing belief of an unfounded psudoreligious doctrine as truth. One character, a sick and twisted individual, turns what should be a time of beauty and thanksgiving into something deviant. That is a sick human, not a sick religion. Any religion may be twisted – see The Spanish Inquisition for example, or the Mayan cutting out of the hearts of slaves.

Overall, I was deeply, deeply disappointed. I truly wanted the book to continue to be wonderful. Instead, I was left with a foul taste in my mouth and a heavy heart.

NOT RECOMMENDED.

Goddess of the moon, queen of the night,
keeper of women’s mysteries, mistress of the tides,
you who are ever changing and yet always constant,
I ask that you guide me with your wisdom,
help me grow with your knowledge,
and hold me in your arms.

The moon is the symbol of the mother,
and she watches over us day and night.
She brings the changing tide, the shifting night,
the flow that changes women’s bodies,
and the passion of lovers to their beloved.
Her wisdom is great and all-knowing,
and we honor her tonight.
Keep your watchful eyes upon us, great mother,
until the cycle returns once more,
and bring us to the next full moon,
in your love and light.

- Drawing Down The Moon ( )
  soireadthisbooktoday | May 4, 2014 |
I have tried so hard to care about this book, but I just can't. I bought it in September and I'm still only a hundred and thirty pages in and _nothing has happened_. I give up. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jan 30, 2014 |
Fergus Sheppard’s world changes for ever the day his car crashes near the remote village of Allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he returns to thank the villagers who rescued him, and stays to work at the local stables as he recovers from his injuries. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love – and be targeted for human sacrifice.
Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The young archaeologist’s dream find – the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior – is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior had been ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman. And their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep.
Fergus discovers that his crash is uncannily linked to the excavation, and that the smiling and beautiful countryside harbours some very dark secrets. As the pagan festival of Beltane approaches, and Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple’s bloody fate.


Haunting primordial/rural Wickermanesque tale with a wonderful, descriptive narrative.The author has a captivating writing style but did I have a couple of issues with the novel.

The romantic aspects didn't work for me, Fergus and Clare, whilst well drawn individually, didn't convince as a couple. Also I didn't really get what was motivating the villain of the piece.

The dual storyline worked well and the author convincingly invokes the ancient spirits of the English countryside that reminded me of Alan Garner. Good stuff

The landscape swelled as if some vast subterranean body had inhaled, tightening the earth over its curves. The land was female, fecund, as English as nut-brown ale, and rich with birdsong. No hum of equipment, no engine noise, just the dawn chorus and, at the edge of hearing, a sound that might have been singing....
( )
  jan.fleming | Jan 1, 2014 |
There was a moment early in Saxon's Bane, as the protagonist hurtles down a dark road in the English countryside on Samhain, when I thought, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Geoffrey Gudgion maintains that propulsive energy throughout much of his debut novel.

Saxon's Bane is a story of intersecting fates. Fergus, the main character and the author's proxy, suffers a debilitating car accident in the opening chapter. (Not a spoiler.) Clare, an archaeologist, begins a dig near the scene of the accident. Fergus, trapped in his car's wreckage and in shock, perceives a visit from a stranger who, the reader learns, resembles the male remains Clare is excavating. Clare and Fergus encounter one another, of course, as the titular Saxon's presence is felt in the small English village that is the novel's setting.

There is much going on in Saxon's Bane, and in a good way. I regret that I've never been to England, and Gudgion's descriptions of the English countryside and village life made me feel that regret more keenly. Gudgion lovingly describes what I assume is an accurate depiction of English village life, replete with homey cottages, local's and tourist's pubs, and a (sometimes overbearing) familiarity among neighbors. I'd like to spend a day roaming Allingley's streets.

Gudgion strikes a fine balance between character and plot. Experienced readers will know from the book's beginning that certain things are bound to happen, foreordained not only by Gudgion's storytelling, but also by certain genre conventions. It should surprise no one that there is a romance between Fergus and Clare. Still, Gudgion does a fine job of fleshing out characters who are recognizable. Fergus seems real enough, his troubles and motivations well-depicted and comprehensible. Clare is likewise sympathetic. Even minor characters, such as the village pastor, John Webster, have an air of reality about them.

The plot moves forward in a way that is not unpredictable. Gudgion follows an arc typical for this sort of novel. The good news is, he succeeds: I would call this a legitimate "page turner," and Gudgion managed to surprise me in spots. Gudgion is successful in part because of his willingness to permit, rather than resolve, certain tensions. Fergus remains attracted to Eadlin, a village woman, despite his involvement with Clare. In Saxon's Bane, such ambivalence is accepted as natural, even if readers know the story will progress in a specific direction. Still, Gudgion's characters are complicated, and, thus, more "real."

The jacket copy bills Saxon's Bane as horror, but I'm not sure it best fits that genre. There is some minor gore, but no tides of plasma. Saxon's Bane is horror in the sense that is a ghost story, and ghosts are, one supposes, loosely part of the horror canon. Blessedly, there are no zombies, and, although the story definitely points readers in a certain direction in regards to the supernatural, Gudgion kindly (and wisely) permits readers enough leeway to come to their own conclusions.

Saxon's Bane is an entertaining debut novel with strong characterization and setting. The plotting, if not surprising, is satisfying; I appreciated the momentum Gudgion maintained throughout the book. I recommend Saxon's Bane to readers of ghost stories and historical fiction.

(Side note: Saxon's Bane reminded me of Karen Maitland's novels Company of Liars and, especially, The Owl Killers.) ( )
  LancasterWays | Dec 22, 2013 |
This reads nicely with a smooth arc from start to finish and only a few small slowdowns throughout the plot line. It feels as though the author took their time developing the characters and fleshing out details. The main characters were presented as strong without being overbearing or unrealistic which can be difficult to do. Overall it was an entertaining read, just a bit shy of great or memorable. ( )
  Jenn.S | Sep 25, 2013 |
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"Fergus Sheppard's world changes for ever the day his car crashes near the remote village of Allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he returns to thank the villagers who rescued him, and stays to work at the local stables as he recovers from his injuries. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love -- and be targeted for human sacrifice. Clare Harvey's life will never be the same either. The young archaeologist's dream find -- the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior -- is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior had been ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman. And their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep. Fergus discovers that his crash is uncannily linked to the excavation, and that the smiling and beautiful countryside harbours some very dark secrets. As the pagan festival of Beltane approaches, and Clare's investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple's bloody fate.… (more)

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