Conscience of the King by Alfred Duggan
New York : Coward-McCann, Inc., 1951. Hardcover. 250 pages ; 21 cm. $3.00 dust jacket with a sizeable rip on the back side. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
CONSCIENCE OF THE KING BY ALFRED DUGGAN
CONSCIENCE OF THE KING is a story told by one Coroticus who is an old man and, as is the habit of an old man, decides to narrate the story of his life.
The scene is laid in England of the 5th and 6th centuries, which, since the evacuation of the Romans, is a hopeless melange of small kingdoms, feudal principalities and wastelands.
Coroticus is of the nobility, Roman and Christian, by inheritance, as opposed to the fierce Saxons.
The book is an account of the struggle for power between the warring factions; a study of the civilization, the social customs, and the religious and political outlook of the time.
The author, thoroughly steeped in the legends and bits of history of the era, paints a wonderfully vivid picture of a time that is almost unknown to us. This is a real historical novel where history is an integral part of the characters and the action and not a mere backdrop. It is written in a delightful tongue-in-the-cheek manner, slightly resembling Erskine's Helen of Troy and some of T. H. White's books.
Coroticus reveals himself, naively and innocently, as a rogue of the first water, quite capable of patricide, fratricide and treachery and cowardice. At the same time, he is an able and intelligent man and his comments on the life of the times are pungent and often amusing and revealing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Argentina, partly of American descent, Alfred Duggan was brought to England at an early age. England has been his home ever since.
One of the few people in recent years to have crossed the Atlantic under sail, Mr. Duggan has traveled extensively, visiting most of the places he writes about. At one time, he collected specimens for the British Natural History Museum; then studied Byzantine monuments, and helped to excavate Constantine's Palace in Istanbul.
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