Monday, January 4, 2010

Henry Treece: Viking' Dawn

I read Henry Treece when I was a boy, and during the recent BBC Open Book feature on forgotton classics, Henry Treece got a mention, and I thought I have to find those books again, and just see how well they compare to my memory.

I have a think, you see, about reading books that really grabbed you as a child. I set my students to read something they loved a year or so ago, and having spoken passionately about why it was such a good idea, I thought I should take some of my own medicine and have been fairly hooked ever since.

I liked this book probably as much as I did as a child. It's simple, short, and niocely doesn't take any of the obvious story directions you'd expect with Vikings. I was impressed, actually, with how much he manages to fit into a book of just 168 pages.

I've noticed with a lot of older writers, how they flout the current mantra of show not tell, and happily tell, tell, tell, and still their stories zim along. I like these older styles, and curiously, he uses a lot of similar expressions to Tolien, which makes me think they may well have been current lingo at the time. I'm a show and tell kind of writer, I think, and I wonder if growing up with TV has altered the way we write now.

Back to Mr Treece: he was born some nineteen years after JRRT, and died five years earlier in 1966, but I think he was writing the kinds of books that JRRT and CS Lewis approved of. Books in the manner of Haggard not Wolfe. Books that people read because they're great reads rather than featuring on academic syllabuses or adding a whiff of intellecutallity to one's aura.

Ah! I seem to have hit upon a gripe of mine. Better stop there before the rant begins.

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