The clash of the Two Swords, of spiritual and temporal power, rings through the 12th century. In England its most famous instance was the dispute between Henry II and the Archbishop of Canterbury, a complicated story which cannot be understood unless the backgrounds of the two antagonists are brought to life. The boyhood of the ambitious Thomas of Cheapside and the conquest of the country by the passionate young King: their early friendship; the development of the rift between them; the many attempts to find a formula of reconciliation; and finally the murder in Canterbury and its aftermath, are all brilliantly enacted under the direction of this extraordinary author.
Read alsoThe Cunning of the Dove
Alfred Duggan’s Saxon novels have a special cachet. In The Cunning of the Dove, this masterly author chooses Edward the Confessor as his hero. The story is told by the royal chamberlain. He thinks in English, speaks in French and writes in Latin, but Duggan does our share of the work and the fog is dissipated. St Edward is unwrapped from…
‘It is rather as though the talents which made I, Claudius and The Forsyte Saga were fused into a single, quite new and individual creation’ Evelyn Waugh in The Spectator
‘Mr Duggan has a marvellously wry quality in his writing’ Sunday Times
‘A dramatic novel of the struggle between the spiritual and temporal powers in England in the twelfth century . . . As a reconstruction of the period this is marvellously well done.’ Sphere
‘A remarkable reconstruction’ Observer