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The Dream Time by Henry Treece

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The Dream Time by Henry Treece

Post by parthianbow » Thu August 8th, 2013, 7:28 pm

Since becoming a published author, I'm often asked about the reasons that I chose to become a writer, and the books or authors that have influenced me. Henry Treece is one of the names that always springs to mind, mainly because of his Viking trilogy, The Viking Saga, which is magnificent. It's been fascinating to read the comments of people who've read my articles, also mentioning Treece as an influence on them. Recently, someone mentioned to me that The Dream Time was Treece's best book. I hadn't heard of it, let alone read it, so I decided to remedy that at once. Sadly, it's out of print, but a secondhand copy costs only a few pence.

It's a very slim volume - a mere 96 pages - that in itself had me wondering how good it could be. I wasn't disappointed, however. It's set in prehistoric times, and the main character is a likeable boy with a bad leg, aptly named Crookleg. An outcast from his own tribe because of his ability to draw wonderful (but taboo) pictures, Crookleg embarks on a journey that will see him meet peoples of many different types, including the last of the Neanderthals. It's a brightly woven tale, written in a very simple (but clever) style, with the speech patterns clearly designed to represent how people might have spoken so many thousand years ago. Like the best children's fiction (Sutcliff et al) it's a really enjoyable read, even for an adult.

I thoroughly recommend it: a solid four star. If you're looking for a book for your children, I'd rate it 8-9 year old in style.
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Post by annis » Fri August 9th, 2013, 4:05 am

I think i've still got my original copy of this somewhere- probably just about counts as an antique by now!

Wasn't this Treece's very last book, published after his death? I seem to remember that Rosemary Sutcliff wrote a postscript for it - there you go- wonders of the internet- someone has put it online:
Dream Time Postscipt- Rosemary Sutcliff

As Sutcliff pointed out, Treece has young Crookleg encounter people from different periods of time along his journey as a way of making the point that the more things change the more they stay the same.

Treece was a one-off, and like Sutcliff, he was of the bardic storytelling tradition. His novels, grounded in universal mythology, often have a wild mystical streak which makes them really nearer fantasy than historical fiction. but he certainly captures the conflict at the heart of the human beast, capable of both poetic grandeur and brutal savagery.
Last edited by annis on Fri August 9th, 2013, 6:13 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Post by kodiakblair » Thu August 22nd, 2013, 10:06 pm

I have a great Memory of Treece. I'd be about 10 and our teacher Mrs Beveridge read the class " The Horned Helmet " Just a chapter in the last 5 minutes of the school day. Set me off reading the Sagas and history books. To this day 30 odd years later I still reread it at least once a year. Truly magical writing. That and Red Orm are the benchmark for Viking tales and only Low's Oathsworm come close. Still it is quite a hard target to equal.

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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sat December 14th, 2013, 1:49 pm

The "Horned Helm" is my benchmark for Viking era fiction. It really captures the meloncholy nature of the age and the blended families that it produced. The main character is a very realistic boy who reacts to the highs and lows much as a boy would.

It is also a slim volume but packs a lot into its pages.

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