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.
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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…
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 the shroud of ignorance that has enveloped him, and is presented as a credible human being: a saint, but one whose unworldliness gave him extraordinary political foresight. He is remembered for the splendid foundation of Westminster. But his greatest contribution was his unswerving belief that England needed a Norman rule to unify the country.
‘Before Alfred Duggan wrote this novel Edward the Confessor was probably the dimmest of English kings. But Duggan is a master . . . and brings to life a whole remote age, which we accept, miracles and all.’ Evening Standard
‘He is a true artist, creating and composing from a disciplined imagination. There is no denying the coherence and lucidity of his account’ Times Literary Supplement