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Making strange

John Sutherland

19 March 1981
Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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XPD 
by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... strings as the male equivalent of Mills and Boon romances – ‘books that please’, kleenex for the mind. There are, however, important differences. For one thing, Dudley Pope and the apprentice BernardCornwell are not ashamed to write under their own names. And both have impressive credentials: Pope is a distinguished naval historian, Cornwell rose to be head of BBC Television’s Current Affairs ...

Bardism

Tom Shippey: The Druids

9 July 2009
Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... economy – would be a demonstration of how deeply the resurrected phenomenon of druidry has sunk into and shaped the modern countercultural imagination, from Asterix the Gaul to The Mists of Avalon, BernardCornwell, Merlin in John Boorman’s movie Excalibur, the 1973 Wicker Man movie and, no doubt, hundreds of other works in contemporary circulation. It has been said that no modern medievalism does ...

Butcher Boy

Michael Kulikowski: Mithridates

22 April 2010
The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithridates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy 
by Adrienne Mayor.
Princeton, 448 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 12683 8
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... next. We are, in other words, in territory that properly belongs to historical fiction, a medium that can, in the hands of Henry Treece, say, and occasionally even those of a journeyman writer like BernardCornwell, achieve insight into character, motive, gesture and scene, without the restraints that the non-fiction framework imposes. There is a commercial logic to offering work of this kind in a high ...

Widowers on the Prowl

Tom Shippey: Britain after Rome

17 March 2011
Britain after Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400-1070 
by Robin Fleming.
Allen Lane, 458 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 7139 9064 5
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... cavalry leader rallies the British after the Roman army withdrawal and fights off hordes of invading Angles and Saxons – has stuck firmly in the work of popular novelists from Rosemary Sutcliff to BernardCornwell and Allan Massie, and (in this case with strident claims to historical accuracy) in movies like Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur (2004). Fleming ignores the phenomenon, and the scenario. It isn ...

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