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Harald Mass Market Paperback

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 407 pages
  • Publisher: Baen (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416555374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416555377
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 4.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,653,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Friedman's first novel is a fantasy in an invented medieval setting not unlike that of Harry Turtledove's early Videssos novels. The plot is fairly straightforward: a young king finds himself at odds with enough of the kingdom's forces to put his land in danger of invasion. Sure enough, the enemy invades, and the protagonist, an old soldier who fought the enemy in a previous campaign, must pound some sense into the king's head and develop unexpected tactics for defeating the invasion. The world Friedman has created derives from late Roman and early Byzantine times, and the characters he presents are good, solid archetypes. Respectable, standard action fantasy that will please the respectable, very diverse readership of such. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David D. Friedman has a deep knowledge of medieval history which brings the world of "Harald" to living, breathing life. A long time member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, he is the author of numerous articles on topics ranging from how to tie a turban to Norse riddles. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I am an academic economist currently employed as a law professor, although I have never taken a course for credit in either field. My specialty, insofar as I have one, is the economic analysis of law, the subject of my book _Law's Order_.

In recent years I have created and taught two new law school seminars at Santa Clara University. One was on legal issues of the 21st century, discussing revolutions that might occur as a result of technological change over the next few decades. Interested readers can find its contents in the manuscript of _Future Imperfect_, linked to my web page. Topics included encryption, genetic engineering, surveillance, and many others. The other seminar, which I am currently teaching, is on legal systems very different from ours. Its topics included the legal systems of modern gypsies, Imperial China, Ancient Athens, the Cheyenne Indians, ... . My web page has a link to the seminar web page.

I have been involved in recreational medievalism, via the Society for Creative Anachronism, for over thirty years. My interests there include cooking from medieval cookbooks, making medieval jewelery, telling medieval stories around a campfire creating a believable medieval islamic persona and fighting with sword and shield.

My involvement with libertarianism goes back even further. Among other things I have written on the possibility of replacing government with private institutions to enforce rights and settle disputes, a project sometimes labelled "anarcho-capitalism" and explored in my first book, _The Machinery of Freedom_, published in 1972 and still in print.

My most recent writing project is my first novel, _Harald_. Most of my interests feed into it in one way or another, but it is intended as a story, not a tract on political philosophy, law or economics. It is not exactly a fantasy, since there is no magic, nor quite a historical novel, since the history and geography are invented. The technology and social institutions are based on medieval and classical examples, with one notable exception.

Customer Reviews

The author's brief prose works okay during the battle scenes, but it really blows when people are just sitting around and talking..
Book Worm
It's not bad, but not as much fun as doing it oneself, and not as terrifying or exciting as being in the actual battle (which some authors would be able to convey).
I can reveal that David Friedman is a softie: despite the many dangers of the story, he doesn't kill off any character you might care about.
J. P. R. Palfrey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By UtilityMaximizer on April 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read just about everything David D. Friedman has published, and enjoyed all of it, until this book. The Machinery of Freedom is a classic. Hidden Order is a wonderful introduction to economics. Law's Order is about as concise and elegant as a Law and Economics book can get. Buy those books; you won't regret it. They're well worth it.

But I simply don't get this book. I tried to like it. I kept reading even when it became clear that this book was not for me, hoping something would change (I suppose that makes me irrational). My primary complaints are as follows:

-The writing style is grating, full of incomplete (and sometimes hard-to-interpret) sentences. For example, instead of saying "Harald went to the gate and opened it. He saw soldiers outside, and loosed several arrows at them," Friedman might write "Harald to the gate. Opened; soldiers. Arrows flew." At first I thought this was simply the way that some characters talked--they were short and to the point, with no decoration in their sentences, but unfortunately I was wrong. ALL the characters talk in this way, regardless of their origin; there doesn't seem to be any difference in the way Karls and Imperials talk (except in the couple of circumstances when a character's language skills are poor). Also, the author's third-person exposition uses the same style. It is jarring at best and confusing at worst. Again, I realize that Friedman knows how to write a sentence, and this decision is intentional. I just didn't think it worked at all.

-Only two of the characters evoked any interest from me, the King of Kaerlia and the son of a prince of the Empire. Why were these characters interesting? Because they weren't perfect, and therefore they learned and grew.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By William K. Black on July 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
David Friedman, the author of Harald, is a scientist by training that teaches economics in a law school and spends much of his time exploring ancient recipes and weapons. He is also a radical libertarian that believes that even democratic government is fatally coercive and prone to uncorrectable error.

His first novel is not overtly political, but it is a fascinating insight into the dreams of a radical libertarian.

I will return to that subject in the final three paragraphs after addressing the very different issues on which prior reviewers have focused. For me, the dialogue was a moderate problem. It was confusingly elliptical at some points. I did not feel it was authentic. It neither invoked the realistic manner in which the ancients spoke nor created a sense of "differentness" that helped me enter the world the author created. My largest complaint about the diaglogue is one that the author appears to agree with -- the characters sound too much alike even when the author's characterization of their personalities suggests that they should sound distinct.

Yes, Harald wins. I agree that this is not unrealistic. There are many historical struggles in which the side that ultimately prevails in a series of battles cannot survive a single serious defeat.

I agree that the characters that are least convincing are the King and his wife, but Harald is problematic to a modern audience. He is perfect -- and not merely in battle. He is the perfect husband, grandfather, story teller, mentor, etc. -- and modest to boot. He's decisive and he does not agonize about whether he has done the right thing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jules Jones on May 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Declaration of bias -- I know the author, and I know that this affected how willing I was to keep reading. I greatly enjoyed the book, but it uses a very terse, elliptical style that took some time to get used to, and I think this will cause many readers to bounce off the prose. I would strongly suggest finding excerpts (I think there are some on the Baen website somewhere) and reading to see if you like the style.

That said, this is a solid first novel with an interesting story and some likeable characters. It's an alternative history book that's firmly grounded in reality -- with one minor exception, not obvious to the reader, everything is physically plausible. And I am impressed with the way Friedman has worked some of his libertarian philosophy into the book without hitting the reader over the head with it. Too much political speculative fiction involves blatant sermons--this book uses a much more subtle showing-rather-than-telling approach and is so much better for it. It adds depth to the story rather than turning it into a political tract.

It's not going to be to everyone's taste, but if you can handle the elliptical prose style it's an enjoyable read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. Barchie on May 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Harald, written by David D. Freidman is the story of a legendary war leader able to protect his people from an aggressivly expanding empire. It is a fantasy set in a time period of archery and armor (approx. 1200 A.D.).

As a story it is a tale of war and leadership, strategy and tactics. Its greatest streagth is the feeling that it is written by a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, its ability to describe the feel of the time period is memerable and makes the contests descibed the the book that much more real.

As a treatise on war it emphsizes that little known precept that war is successfully waged (and won) by the intellegent in a given society. In addition if one wanted to know the value of logistics one would only need to read Harald to understand that armies move on their bellies.

As a fantasy Harald works quite well and the author is careful to avoid both the horrors of war and the unwholesome vagories of mankind. This makes the book more enjoyable and presentable to children, however it then tends to romaticise warfare to a degree that one looks forward to the charactures engaging in the endever as opposed to regretting the entire issue.

The charactures themselves sometimes tend to speak in shorthand and more than once this reader had to reread an exchange to understand who was speaking and about what. However that tended to make the book more enjoyable as it gave the feel that the reader was spying on individuals from a different culture with a different set of morals, allthough Harald, the primary characture, clearly has had a post Renaissance brush with western style independence and prudence.

As a student of war and warfare I found the book enjoyable and look forward to any further attempts by David Freidman within this domain, perhaps with a little magic?
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