“They’re a bunch of medieval religious fanatics,” Steve said. “They don’t need a GP. They need a barber-surgeon.”
This novel is a pretty quick read. The “science fiction” imprint and the “fantasy” label are both misleading; there’s nothing supernatural or counterfactual in the setting or the plot. It’s just a straightforward adventure story set in a medieval village and its environs. The protagonist is a savvy but ignorant fifteen-year-old weaver’s apprentice.
The interaction between Catholicism and the vestiges of indigenous European religion is a major subtext of the story, and it’s no Wiccanish glamorization of the latter. Wolfe’s own Catholicism often informs his fiction, and it may do so here, but in any case, the result is a more realistic treatment of the material than one usually encounters in a novel with this sort of historical setting.
There’s a significant plot-twist that seemed a little obvious to me, but the whole thing was so lucidly written and well-paced that I didn’t mind a bit. [via]