Alice Borchardt Devoted

ISBN 13: 9780525940395

Devoted

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9780525940395: Devoted
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Bound by a shared determination to save their people from Viking conquerors, Elin, a mistress of the forbidden powers, and Owen, a warrior-bishop, discover a burning love for each other. Reprint. K.

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Review:

Do not pity Alice Borchardt. Her sister, Anne Rice, may be immensely better known, but Borchardt, the older sister, is Rice's equal in presenting lush otherworlds balanced with historical detail. Indeed, Rice, in an introduction to Devoted, cites Borchardt as an inspiration for her own fiction and an early collaborator in imaginative excess. Like the Brontës before them, the sisters' childhood was spent sharing a dream world peopled with heroes, heroines, pirates, and aliens.

As a first work, Devoted may presage the author's potential. It reads as though she were shaking the tree of her imagination to see what will drop. One story can hardly contain all the fruitful ideas that fall. Set in the year 900, the story centers on a medieval stronghold beset by invading Vikings, corrupt feudal landlords, and a traitor within. Owen, Bishop of Chantalon, is a Christian; Elin, beaten, raped, and forced into slavery by the Vikings, is of the Forest People, pagans with magical skills. Through their union, Borchardt explores the conflict between paganism and early Christianity and the flagrant inequalities between men and women, the nobility and the lesser born, and people with different beliefs. These large themes make the story overlong, sometimes threatening to take it over. But the monumental, blood-soaked clashes between the Saxons and the Vikings; the descriptions of household artifacts, weaponry, and fashion in the Middle Ages; and, of course, the heart of the tale: the love that is hammered into being like a coat of woven mail between Owen and Elin, make this first novel a worthwhile read. --Brenda Pittsley

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Borchardt, Alice
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