The Wake, Paperback Book
2.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


A post-apocalyptic novel set in 1066 - unlike anything else you will read this year...Everyone knows the date of the Battle of Hastings.

Far fewer people know what happened next...Set in the three years after the Norman invasion, The Wake tells the story of a fractured band of guerilla fighters who take up arms against the invaders.

Carefully hung on the known historical facts about the almost forgotten war of resistance that spread across England in the decade after 1066, it is a story of the brutal shattering of lives, a tale of lost gods and haunted visions, narrated by a man of the Lincolnshire fens bearing witness to the end of his world.

Written in what the author describes as 'a shadow tongue' - a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable for the modern reader - The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo-Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction.

To enter Buccmaster's world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781783520985

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Review by

To quote a section on the back of the book, <em>"Written in what the author calls 'A shadow tongue' - a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable for the modern reader - The Wake is a landmark in historical fiction and looks set to become a modern classic."</em>I didn't get far, a mere few tens of pages, and faced with three hundred and fifty, I put it down. It takes concentration to interpret the shadow tongue, and I found it interfering with my pace of reading. The first few pages were like wading through treacle, but the rhythm did start to come; it entailed more listening to the words rather than reading them, if that makes sense.<em>----- when we was in the brunnesweld nebbs all blaec hydan in the grene holt lic the afeart bucc oft i was thincan of my grandfather. a great man he was strong in all he wilde weep to see what angland has becum. efen he strong man that he was wolde weep lie a cilde to see us hidan there runnan from ingengas in our own land that is no longer our own land.-----</em> In "A Note On Language" at the back, the author writes, <em>"What we now call Old English was the language of the English people until the invasion of 1066, when it rapidly began to mutate with the arrival of Norman French, the language of the new ruling class. This novel is not written in Old English - that would be unreadable to anyone except scholars. It is written instead in what might be called a shadow tongue - a pseudo-language intended to convey the feeling of the old language by combining some of its vocabulary and syntax with the English we speak today."</em>It also includes a couple of pages of a partial glossary; but I couldn't come to terms with this. I don't think I'll come back to this; certainly with the pace of modern life as it currently is. The book requires an effort that I currently can not give it. My mind is too full of work and other business, to be able to quieten it to the degree where I can listen to the rhythm and hear the story.

Review by

An extraordinary book, telling the story of a "green man" resisting the Norman conquest with a small band of guerrillas in the Lincolnshire fens and surrounding woodlands. Written in a hybrid language that mixes Anglo-Saxon words and spellings with just enough modern English to make it readable, it is a bloodthirsty elegy for the England that was lost, and is also fascinating for its linguistic insights.

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