871 AD The White Horse King

The date 871 AD is the date which Alfred became king of the Saxons.

I am sorry that I have not posted lately.  I have been completely immersed in this book by Benjamin Merkle.  I promise I will get some pictures up soon!  (I think Terry has the camera…)

So on to the book.  (I am still working my way through The Mabinogion, but….)  The White Horse King was so exciting I could not put it down!  And I know I will have a difficult time keeping this short.  Oh, and I always like to give a date and location for sanity’s sake: we’re talking latter half of the 800′s in England.  This was during the Viking Age.  They play a big part in the story.

Rather than relating a few of the major events of Alfred’s life, I think I will just say that through the reading I have done so far, power-hungry kings are a dime a dozen.  The kings that are humble, caring, and view themselves as a servant of the people, are much more rare.  Alfred is one of the latter.  His is one of those stories that inspire the phrase “truth is better than fiction”.

Some reviewers have complained that this book is ‘unscholarly’, a claim I find ironic, given Merkle’s relation of an experience in the introduction.  To me, the introduction clearly communicated the author’s wish that this not be a typical scholarly biography, but a story told from the view-point of a student of history who greatly admires the person he is talking about.  This story is told with fervor, love, and excitement.  Merkle gets slightly defensive at times, in honor of his hero, but that is understandable.

This book serves as a great introduction into the life of Alfred the Great, and definitely sparks interest for further study.  Here is a picture of the statue of Alfred in Winchester, borrowed from Wikipedia.