Sunday, April 28, 2013

Patricia Bracewell

Patricia Bracewell grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon a writing career.

Her recently released first novel, Shadow on the Crown, is the start of a trilogy.

Not so long ago I asked the author about what she was reading.  Bracewell's reply:
I recently finished reading Robert Low’s Viking novel Crowbone. The 10th century world that Low creates in this book is harsh and unforgiving – as are the men who inhabit it. Even the women of that world, and there are very few of them in this book, have little in the way of softness or warmth. Witches and women warriors are the order of the day. What struck and impressed me the most about this book, though, was the language. Robert Low writes like a modern day skald, mimicking in English something akin to the kennings that were so popular with the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse. Dogs are ‘fur bundles with a mouthful of filthy blades’, a frightened face is ‘a great rune of terror’, and a man’s mind is his ‘thought cage’. It is like nothing I’ve ever read before, except in Anglo-Saxon poetry. I found something to surprise and delight me on every page. Filled with adventure, war and bloody murder, not unlike the ancient sagas, it is a fierce ride with the Viking crew of a snake-boat.

I’ve always been fascinated by maps, and recently I picked up On the Map by Simon Garfield. I suppose you could call it a kind of history of cartography, but that would not do it justice. It’s a compendium of knowledge, yes, but it is filled with stories and anecdotes that are always fascinating and sometimes thrilling. The chapter on mapping Antarctica with its list of place names like Despair Rocks and Destruction Bay tells a horrific tale. Another chapter describes how a map stopped the spread of cholera in London, and there’s a chapter, too, on the Vinland Map, which is still something of a mystery. The book is compelling, and I haven’t even made it yet to the section with the intriguing title Women Can’t Read Maps. Oh Really?
Learn more about the book and author at Patricia Bracewell's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow on the Crown.

--Marshal Zeringue