John Henry Clay: THE LION AND THE LAMB (Review)

John Henry Clay

JHC

Dr John Henry Clay is a Lecturer in History at the University of Durham, from where he has built up an international academic and research reputation in Anglo-Saxon and Frankish history and archaeology, particularly concerning themes of conversion and religious identity, landscape perception and the transition from the late-Roman to the early-medieval period both in Britain and on the Continent. He completed his PhD at the University of York in 2008 and spent time as a visiting researcher at the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, before taking up his post in Durham in 2010.

THE LION AND THE LAMB is his first novel.

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lion lamb

Book Description

Condemned to a hovel, beaten by a merciless commander, crushed by the weather and forced to survive on starvation rations: no one looking at Paul would ever guess that he is heir to one of Roman Britain’s wealthiest families. But Paul had his reasons for joining the army and fleeing the family he loves.

But when rumours of a barbarian uprising from beyond the Wall begin to circulate, Paul realises that his family is in grave danger.

With only the former slave-girl Eachna for company, Paul deserts the army, for which the penalty is death, and undertakes a hazardous journey across Britain where danger lurks round every corner.

Epic in scope, rich with historical detail, THE LION AND THE LAMB is a novel of Roman Britain on the cusp of the Dark Ages, when all that stands between her citizens and oblivion is one family.

Review

On the surface this book has a nice looking cover, intriguing title and interesting blurb. The book is well written and i’m not even going to pretend to know if the history is right or wrong. Given that John Henry Clay is a highly respected Lecturer in History at the University of Durham particularly on this period, I feel he might be streets ahead of me there.

I know by now you are all sat waiting for the BUT!

…..But!
The book has its own style, a good thing for some and not for others, and to be honest I’m not sure where i fall even now. I’m struggling to articulate all of my perceptions of the book. So I came up with a comparison for you. If Anthony Riches is Die Hard then John Henry Clay is EastEnders. The story is more family intimate, and so tragic, its like several Christmas episodes rolled into one. I’m not an EastEnders fan, but at the same time I was compelled to finish this book.

Every night i read the book until gone midnight, I finished it and at no time got bored, felt bogged down by the style or the language.
The author writes in a clear sparse engaging style, if he could provide the battles and the anticipation, and couple that with a bit more life to his characters then i think he would have an all around winner. It was the lack of anything but normality and everyday personality or lack at times lack of depth to the characters that hindered my all around enjoyment. Up until the last 80 pages I wasn’t bothered if Paul died, but still at the same time felt compelled to watch the whole plot unravel towards its conclusion. It’s at the conclusion that it delivers, where it seems that a progressive build up culminates in life for all the characters especially Paul, Paul’s father and Rufus, who feel more real at the end.

Would I Recommend?

Yes oddly i would, its a book I think you should read and make up your own mind, I think there is a lot of potential for the future, as débuts go the man can write, it just for me needs more action , more personality, inject some humour, even if its dark to back up the emotion and atmospherics he is clearly capable of writing.

(Parm)

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