Dunstan. Conn Iggulden. Michael Joseph. June 2017. 544 pp. pb. ISBN#: 9780718181451.
Dunstan, a fatherless child, is raised by monks on Glastonbury Tor. Intrigued by the mechanics of building towers, cathedrals and palaces, he quickly decides that knowing how to accomplish great deeds and pleasing those in power are just as important as one’s faith in God and devotional practices. So, he quickly rises in the Church and becomes the acquaintance and friend of many Kings and Princes.
It is the year 937 and the Wessex King Aethelstan, grandson of King Alfred the Great, is trying to unite England into one kingdom. However, there are Danes and Vikings who periodically attack England and the King spends more time away in these momentous battles than at his court. Dunstan is no saint but realizes to attain his dream he must find favor with the King. Highly perceptive, King Aethelstan does not totally trust Dunstan, but his son who will be King after him does trust Dunstan. Indeed, Dunstan will become the friend of Kings who will support Dunstan’s dream of building the greatest Abbey in England.
Glastonbury Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral will indeed be built from Dunstan’s direction, but what Dunstan must do to accomplish these formidable feats is less divine and more in line with temporal machinations. For Dunstan will murder, torture, lie, cheat, steal, betray and manipulate his way to glory! The fascinating part of this life story is that he truly believes God will not hold these deeds against them since his goal of bringing glory to God is higher than anything else that occurs. At the same time, he also tries to bring his Order of Benedictines more in line with the plan of the founder of this well-known Order of priests and brothers.
Conn Iggulden is a Master Storyteller who knows how to wrap the reader in his plot, characters and multilayered conflicts and mesmerize him and her. One is always sorry when a Conn Iggulden novel ends, and Dunstan is no different than the other historical novels Conn Iggulden has crafted. This is a highly readable, magnificent work of historical fiction and is highly recommended for those who love a great story that is accurately and skillfully told! Wonder-full!