Monday, July 2, 2018
I have just finished reading Robert Shea's The Saracen: Land of the Infidel. It is a morally complex and very vivid historical novel, set in 13th century Italy. It ends with an exciting cliffhanger. In this post, I explained how to get it and Shea's other novels as free ebook downloads.
I will soon read the sequel, The Saracen: Holy War, but first I am finally reading John Higgs' Watling Street. It discusses the history of Britain, focusing upon a very old road that runs from Dover to north Wales.
I am not far into it, but this paragraph feels like a key:
We have a choice of histories in these islands. Those that are focused on royal houses or social movements are inherently political. Accounts that begin with military victories, such as the Roman or Norman Conquest, follow a victor's script. Watling Street is more neutral, because a road does not care what those who travel along it are planning. As a result, the history of this particular road tells a story quite unlike the histories we are used to.
There seems to be a quiet shoutout early on to Robert Anton Wilson fans. Higgs notes in the Introduction that as he walks along a road in Milton Keynes on the day of the summer solstice, 23,000 people are gathered in Stonehenge. He notes that Milton Keynes has a population of 230,000. And on the first page of the first chapter, he mentions that is in a tunnel in Dover, 23 meters below the surface.