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roger norman author of shadowborne, red die & albion's dream, sherborne, sherborne literary festival

ROGER NORMAN

Roger Norman (born 1948) is an English novelist currently living in Turkey. He was educated at Sherborne School and Cambridge University. He founded Booklore, The Sherborne Bookshop, and in the course of his life he has lived and worked in Greece as an olive farmer, been features Editor of the English-language Turkish Daily News in Ankara, taught in several universities, and served as a consultant on missions for several United Nations agencies examining agriculture and economic development. His fiction continues the English tradition begun by John Masefield and John Cowper Powys, in which an undercurrent of supernatural fantasy or even mildly occult events interacts with characters in a modern British setting. 

(Visit Roger Norman's website here).





SHADOWBORNE

In the library of Sherborne School is a 16th century manuscript, The Book Of Shadowborne, giving a history of Sherborne which suggests an alternative origin for the town’s name, a different reason for Aldhelm’s appointment as bishop and a new explanation for the siting of the Bishop’s palace. Grindlay, the school librarian, is impressed by age of roger norman shadowbornethe ms. and by its apparent author, the Abbess of Shaftesbury. He believes the signature to be false – the ideas are hardly those of the Head of a powerful religious house – but is struck by a curious intelligence in the writing.
 
Among Grindlay’s colleagues is Austin Kelynack, member of the X-Club, where he rubs shoulders with Huxley and Wallace and other leading lights of the new agnosticism. Kelynack’s ambition is an Oxford fellowship and the book he thinks will win it for him is a new History of  England, without the church. In Kelynack’s version, the church represents a distraction to the real source of the nation’s greatness, a Darwinian aristocracy of talent, whose origins he traces to the Indo-European tribes who brought to the island bronze weapons and iron implements and whose presence is indicated by the amber in their burial mounds.  According to local legend, such a mound was flattened by the builders of the Bishop’s palace and Kelynack decides on an excavation beneath the ruined keep.
 
The party of excavators includes Timmins, ex-pugilist, a gifted Sherborne boy called Louis Yeoman, the former wife of the Headmaster, Isadora Magdalensky, an elegant and unpredictable Russian woman, and her maid Françoise. A house is rented in Castleton, local labourers are hired to dig, and on the first day, the burnt remnants of a young woman are found. Medieval, says Kelynack, but why there, under the Tower Keep? The deeper they dig, the more surprising the finds … and the more tense the relations between the excavators.
 
The Book Of Shadowborne contains an oddly coherent explanation for these matters and a sinister premonition of the events that follow, but the Sherborne Constable has an alternative version which, if true, would send Isadora to the gallows.

roger norman shadowborne, sherborne school, sherborne literary festival

Shadowborne full jacket layout.

Price: £14.99 | Hardback | ISBN-13: 978-1-908274-18-2 | Page Extent: 272 | Publication Date: 22 October 2012



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Shadowborne by Roger Norman

SHADOWBORNE
by ROGER NORMAN


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Read a review of SHADOWBORNE by Simon Rawlence at the bottom of this page


Roger Norman ALBION'S DREAM
Listen to Chapter One of SHADOWBORNE by Roger Norman

(Please click on the second button on the left at the bottom; to pause or stop the recording click the same button.)

roger norman shadowborne



albion's dream by roger norman

ALBION'S DREAM

Edward Yeoman and his cousin John Hadley begin to play an ancient, handmade game called Albion's Dream without realizing, at first, that events they set in motion on the board are also transpiring, in parallel, in real life. The first clue comes when Edward notices that faces on the game cards resemble actual people, particularly his tyrannical headmaster, Tyson. Still, both boys feel compelled to play on. When the game falls into the hands of Tyson and the unfortunately named Dr. Fell, the boys are accused of occult practices and threatened with expulsion. In a riveting denouement, Edward is proven innocent and Tyson is replaced--exactly the outcome for which the boys had played. Although the author clearly sets forth the struggle between good and evil, his best storytelling is in the gray areas between such extremes: Edward's capacity for the dark arises from ordinary boyish wishes. Moving handily between board action and school scenes, Norman masterfully manipulates a large number of characters, locations, and ideas.

 
Price: £9.99 | Paperback | ISBN-13: 978-1-908274-19-9 | Page Extent: 240 | Publication Date: 19 October 2012


ALBION'S DREAM
by ROGER NORMAN
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roger norman, red dieRED DIE

In October 1916, Lance-Corporal Jack Yeoman arrives back in England from the trenches of the Western Front. Guided in his movements by a pair of unusual dice he carries with him, he returns to his home in deepest Dorset and arranges a secret rendezvous with his adoptive sister Maggie at a village pub. But his recklessness in word and deed soon land him in trouble and he finds himself a hunted man. His war-wounded brother, an embittered stone-builder, the vindictive local squire, and a sinister priest – all have their reasons for pursuing Jack as he flees deeper into the heart of his native land and deeper into the mystery that envelops him.

roger norman, red die. sundial press sherborneSeveral others are drawn into his sphere through the roll of the dice, some of whom are more than they seem. But there are other forces at work in this haunting tale of reality and illusion, of the living and the dead, a tale of natural potions and supernatural powers in which the threads of human destiny unravel and intertwine. As Jack seeks to come to terms with his conflicting loyalties and beliefs, with the death of his father, with his love for Maggie, events build to their violent climax on All Hallow's Eve on Giant Hill at Cerne Abbas.

RED DIE is a haunting tale of reality and illusion, of the living and the dead, a tale of natural potions and supernatural powers in which the threads of human destiny unravel and intertwine.

Price: £9.99 | Paperback | ISBN-13: 978-1-908274-20-5 | Page Extent: 240 | Publication Date: 19 October 2012

RED DIE
by ROGER NORMAN
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To read more about RED DIE please click here.

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roger norman, albion's dream, red die, shadowborne, sherborne,


SHADOWBORNE

A review by Simon Rawlence

 

Roger Norman has led an expat life in Mediterranean countries and I always imagine him writing at a table outside in the dappled shade of a large plane tree, or a vine-covered bower with a sun-hazed Aegean in the distance. But the landscape of his literary imagination, as he writes in the far away sunshine, is a beautiful and particular corner of Dorset.
 
He describes his scenes well and effortlessly conjures atmosphere, suspense and drama from the streets and buildings of a North Dorset town: “Sunday evening in September and it was raining a cold pelting rain that made puddles under doorways, found the chinks in old stone, streamed wantonly down window-panes and danced wickedly on leaded roofs.“ Thus opens Shadowborne his latest novel about the earlier origins and mysteries of Sherborne in North Dorset.
 
The story is set in the mid-Victorian period in a community within a community, Sherborne School, and the first part takes place within its bounds and observes the school rules. The novel builds well through the characters gradually introduced into school life; the development so measured and well constructed that the reader is forgiven for imagining himself at some moments on the threshold of a nineteenth century classic. Indeed, I tried to identify Sherborne in one of the maps of West Barsetshire. It is Hardy country too.

 
A sample of some of the cast:
 
roger norman shadowborne“The Bishop knew what meekness was, he knew its virtues, but he did not consider it necessary for himself.”
 
“He had swelled and settled like a cork stopper in a wine barrel” of Custos, the school porter.
 
“There was not an ounce of fat on his body and something in his bearing hinted that there would never be “
 
This last describes Kelynack, the new history master. Kelynack and Louis Yeoman, a sixth former and the book’s hero, are two of the less conventional characters united by their attraction to Isadora the beautiful Russian and ill-matched wife of the new Headmaster. These three end up flouting all the rules.
 
For me it is a Coming of Age book. Louis is a senior boy on the edge of adulthood, with the betrayals, deceits, offers and advances that await him.
 
It is the last piece in a trilogy of the Yeoman family. The original narrative was Albion’s Dream and was a delightful adventure for 12 year olds and young at heart adults set in a Dorset prep-school in the 1950’s. This was followed by a prequel, Red Die, set in 1916 and Shadowborne, this latest prequel, is set in 1877.
 
The three books all share a signature atmosphere that the reader easily slips into. This is achieved successfully by the strong sense of place, the Dorset countryside, the time/space warps around the Caer Sidhs, which are such dominant features of that landscape, and the vortices of ancient mysticism that are there accessed.
 
Shadowborne delivers the necessary accessories to the trilogy and the signature atmosphere of local myth and a deeper and much older and richer vein of mysticism. This vein must necessarily be only alluded to as to concretize would be to smash the bubble of mystery. Shadowborne is rich in these allusions, the Darwinian debate, the work of Ibn Khaldun, the ancient trade in amber and the Aryan lineage. For a while the reader expects that all will be neatly revealed but the impulsive Kelynack cannot be relied on and the thread is destroyed with him and we are left more curious.

 
Louis is not the only one left disorientated by the climactic events that occur, but it is his story and trauma that we follow. His recovery and sense of perspective is restored through the mediation of one of those exceptional persons who have never lost their connection to older times, Mrs Biffen:
 
“In her oversize boots, Jersey-knit fisherman’s jacket and corduroy trousers, she was not womanly, nor maidenly nor old maidish, neither spinsterish nor teacherly, by no means elegant yet not inelegant … She belonged, Louis thought, to a different category of women raised in different climes or in an age when there were more women of this kind. A mate for Puck, a Queen for Oberon.”
 
Restored in body and mind, Louis finds space for self-reflection and an act of generosity and subterfuge that leads to the book ending on a gentler and more intimate note. Louis has come of age!

 
May 2013



roger rorman book-signing sherborne literary festival roger rorman book-signing sherborne literary festival
roger norman book-signing, eastbury hotal sherborne
roger rorman book-signing sherborne event
Roger Norman appeared at The Eastbury Hotel as part of The Sherborne Literary Festival on Sunday, 21 October, 12.30-2.00.  The Event SOLD OUT!

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From CORNUCOPIA Magazine: Farewell to the Guerrilla Grandee
In this article, Roger Norman salutes the incomparable style and spirit of the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose masterpiece was 40 years in the making (link will open in a new window):
http://www.cornucopia.net/magazine/articles/farewell-to-the-guerrilla-grandee/

   ALBION’S DREAM, RED DIE and SHADOWBORE are not advertised as a trilogy, but share certain elements. The characters belong to different generations of the Yeoman family, which hailed originally from the Quantocks in Somerset and one branch of which ended up in Dorset, which is the setting for some of the first book and all of the second and third. The books travel backwards in time, Albion’s Dream being set in 1960, Red Die in 1916 and Shadowborne in 1877. A pair of unusual dice appear in each book. There is in all three a certain fascination for the ancient and subterranean and odd links with a remote past, Celtic, Nordic, Arthurian and Methusalan. Some readers have wondered why the books are not presented as a trilogy and Norman responds that the books can be read singly, in any order. 

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