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Attila's Treasure Paperback – August 1, 1996
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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With a doctorate in Germanic studies, Grundy is certainly well qualified to create historical fantasies from fragments of German folklore. His second romance deals with the most fragmentary body of such material, the tales of Attila the Hun. In Grundy's version, Hagar, a young Burgundian prince, is sent as a hostage to Attila's court. There he meets and becomes friendly with Walhari, a Frankish prince, and learns much of the Hun's ways, both military and shamanistic. This makes him at first a valuable friend to Attila--and then a dangerous enemy. Grundy's scholarship sometimes threatens to overwhelm the narrative, but have no doubt that a large number of readers will keep turning the pages, especially if they enjoyed his take on perhaps the best known German legendary material, Rhinegold (1994). Highly recommended to the historical fantasy audience. Roland Green
From Kirkus Reviews
In Rhinegold (1994), Grundy offered a life of Sigifrith (Wagner's Siegfried) combining anthropology and magical fantasy. Here, he recounts the early life of Hagan, who appeared in the previous book as the slayer of Sigifrith. Dour and warlike, and a staunch upholder of the old gods, young Hagan is sent as a ``foster son'' (i.e., hostage) to the camp of Attila the Hun. Hagan adapts well to the life of the camp, bonding with a fellow hostage, Waldhari, a Christianized Frank, and at the same time taking instruction from the Hun's shaman. The prowess of the two young men in battle pleases Attila, but the arrival of Hildegund, a young Gothic Christian woman whom Attila intends to wed, disrupts everything. Because of her religion and her civilized ways, she is horrified by Attila- -especially when he brings her three severed heads of Christians slain in battle as tokens of his esteem. Grundy builds up the Huns' society and religion in convincing detail throughout, as Waldhari and Hildegund eventually fall afoul of the jealous Attila. Their escape into a winter storm, carrying off his treasure, precipitates the final crisis, in which Hagan, one of the last upholders of Gothic ways against the inroads of Christianity, is forced to choose between two loyalties. The heavy irony of his final choice is that it's taken in defense of two Christians who have broken (under great provocation, to be fair) all the laws and customs of the old ways he defends. As in his previous novel, Grundy is often more taken with piling up anthropological detail than with forwarding plot, but he has a fine sense for battle scenes, and his portrayal of the pagan vision of a living universe is both convincing and emotionally effective. Strong anthropological fantasy, with well-drawn characters and great insight into the clash of cultures at a crucial point in history. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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I enjoyed the main character, Hagan, and wished the story would go on longer so we could learn more about him. It would have been nice to see more of his home life, as well.
The book reminded me of some of Heinlein's earlier works where a self-reliant man virtuously sticks to duty & uses his common sense, ultimately succeeding in life.
It is far, far better than most sword & hero books out there lately.
Any babe in the woods who's taken a 101 medieval history class where they teach Americans to locate the Danube knows the difference between Arians and Aryans. Grundy does, too; yet there are a few spots in the book where he gets carried away by the urwuechsigkeit of the latter word. Years later, I still laugh at his inclusion of Seyfudin in this book (scilicet: Properly Sayf al-Din, but here in pseudo-Turkic spelling means the sword of god and was never heard of east of the Tigris before the seventh century).
Ach, this world would be so lovely if we all wrote Runic and Ogham script and the brown peoples who pester the four corners of the earth stopped bothering us...
The strong history in this book and wonderful descriptions of surroundings show the culture clashes experienced by the charachters within. It's a story of cross-culture friendships, and tolerance and understanding of your friends even when you don't understand or nesicarily agree with practices of your friends. It is also a story of dangerous forbidden love and longing.
As one who practices Asatru, norse religion, I was delighted at the realistic and true way in which the religions and magic are portraied. Those who enjoyed this may also be interrested to know that the author of these books is a scholar who has also writen books on Asatru under the penname 'Kveldulf Gundarsson' and his books are "Teutonic Magic" and "Teutonic Religion".
I had two surprises. Clearly the author (unknown to me until then) deeply understands the ways of medieval germanic and hunnish culture, or (it also can be possible) he deceived me like no one before. There are detailed and numerous scenes of the behavior of the germanic people in a time where the Huns where threatening the borders of the Roman Empire, and also description of the way romans, goths and huns made alliances and enmities furing the fifth century. I think I got what I wanted, to learn something about the huns in a book of fictions. This is the good surprise.
The bad surprise is that I, like most people, I think, thought that there was only one historical Attila, the maddened hunnish warlord that invaded and sacked Rome permiting the goths to divide what was left of the Western Roman Empire among themselves, and I thought this was the Attila whose name was on the title of the book. Through the first hundred pages of the book I felt something was strange, than skipped to the afternote by the author in the end of the book. There my suspicions became true. Grundy's book is not about the historical Attila, it's about one other Attila, fictional, born and living some twenty to thirty years before the real one. However, through the story, by way of historical characters that appear on the book, Grundy gives hints about the coming of the real Attila (there's a character in the book, a strong warrior named Rua, whose wife is told by the shaman of the huns she will give birth to three of the most important sons the hunnish people will ever have; Rua was the name of the father of the real Attila). When I learned this, I thought the book was a deceipt, but I thought better and continued to read because it was a nice written and told story about medieval ways, sword-fighting, magic, etc.
I liked Grundy's style and the way he seems to know what he's writing about.
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