As part of the 12 days of Clink Street Christmas blog tour I’m very happy to bring you a guest post from Tony Halker author of The Learn who will give us a bit of an insight into his work..but first.. here’s my review of the book. 🙂
Here’s the book blurb –
Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior. Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.
The Learn follows Owayne on his journey from being a boy, a local beach scavenger to that of a priest.
What i really enjoyed about this book was that the author really made me think about development, growth and learning within the human race. We take so much for granted but at one point humans didn’t have things such as paracetamol, cars, bricks even..the list is endless.
It was really good to see the author show different views to learning. As you could imagine some people would be open to new ideas but even in this day and age some people are stuck in there ways and don’t see things as progress.
My personal view is Owayne’s journey is one of enlightenment as he opens his mind and his eyes to all the possibilities out there in the world..all the wonders waiting to be shared.
For me the pace of the tale was a little 0n the slow side..i like a fast paced tale after all, but the pace did offer the chance for you to see the spiritualistic or even sometimes simplistic and differing views on knowledge and development.
This book isn’t a hard read as such but it needs your time and focus to really understand and enjoy the tale. The language used takes time to digest to fully immerse yourself in “The Learn”.
Overall The Learn is a very creative and interesting tale about knowledge and development along with the dangers surroundings it. The final few chapters of the tale really had me hooked with the injection of action right when you needed it.
The tale really does make me think about what it must have been like when things were discovered.. and would have i been one of those scared, or would i have embraced it?
It’s a calm story for the most part and the book would be really suited for those who have the time to devote to it, to embrace the tale like Owayne must embrace “The Learn”
For me it’s a solid 4* 🙂
My thanks go to Authoright for the chance to read/review the book and to Tony who shares with us his insight to “The Learn” below.
“The Learn” is about technology change, the values and beliefs that emerge in us from technology, the confidence or fear those changes engender; the angst that emerges in us when we perceive we have lost or will lose some control or power. It is also about belief, blasphemy, equality, power and authority and our reactions to those things
My canvas is the bronze age, it enables me to add a dimension that is Nature, the environment, what it gives, takes and threatens. Some readers have wanted to say that “The Learn” is about the bronze age. I prefer to express that it is simply set there because that age offers real places that are fertile territory and lend other dimensions to a rich story. That context lets me challenge on issues of interest.
I love the mountain beach landscape of “The Learn”, I can wander there today. It is full of stone age and bronze age artefacts, remnant dwellings and even jewellery of skill and imagination. I envision peoples who emerged from the land, were formed by its gifts and pressures, yet faced the same comforts and fears as we do now. I think they were like us, laying foundations for us to build on in many areas of technology, values and beliefs.
I wanted to write a book that is not a quick fix; that draws people in with effort, that is not sensational; is as much about landscape, place, voice, nature and atmosphere as about particular events. I want a reader to live within my novel. I hope that a few may grieve a little when a character joins his or her ancestors or just slips from view. I hope at the end of the story I am leaving questions about the people and their future developments that will have readers seeking out a sequel, the next stage of The Learn
We have so much folklore to build on to make a rich story. We know the names of Celtic/Druid Deities, we have the Romans’ view of their defeated enemies that they clearly feared. I have taken the festivals of summer and winter, their transition and what we know about them today and tried to re-imagine them in the place where they were first formed, performed and meant so much for the coming season, harvests, weather and the goodwill of The Deities.
We know the Romans twice tried to eliminate the seat of Druid power in North Wales. It was not just people they feared but power, culture and values, a belief system to challenge that of Rome; where women ruled alongside men and Druids controlled belief and trade. Societies and cultures, tribes and families prosper or fail based upon cohesion, shared values and joint vision, as well as effort and purpose. I wanted to weave that into “The Learn”, since I hoped to form a historical novel that considers the issues we face today and acknowledges that our forebears so far back were intelligent, worthy ancestors whose spirit and blood runs in our veins.
I wanted my characters to be ordinary, yet interesting. There are damaged small people whose bodies are malformed, by poor diet, over work in the dark, the challenges of nature and the ill will of superstition. There are lonely souls of uncertain gender whose purpose of being has been taken by time and technology change, but who find some comfort and will to live by fulfilling the purpose they were taught, even though that no longer has merit or use to society.
Nature, Anu the Goddess looks down on all of this. She challenges in order to see the development of Knowledge of human peoples. She values fortitude.
We are here because we have struggled and survived through hunger, cold, heat, climate change and competition for resources. We are the ones who made it this far, yet as a species we have lived for only a couple of million years, (the Dinosaurs lived for about 180 million years). Our spirit needs to be on edge, alert to threats, planning how to manage, to fight or flee. We need daily challenge and purpose if our biology is not to shut down. I wanted to write about that and how our ancestors may have acknowledged these issues and managed them.
Purchase from Foyles – http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-learn,tony-halker-9781911110576
About Tony Halker
Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.
Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/