Hurled twelve hundred years into the past, into someone else’s body, things could hardly be worse. And then the body’s owner wanted it back…
Museum curator Thomas and ten year old Anglo Saxon Wulfstan have to cope with a fifty year age gap, a huge culture clash and never knowing from one moment to the next who’s going to be in control.
As they’re trying to come to terms with it all, they inadvertently antagonise Wulfstan’s father, King Offa of Mercia. The King is already frustrated with his son’s “late” development and issues the boy a challenge. Wulfstan is given just a year to find and train ten slaves who can beat the King’s own champions in a fight to the death, but there’s a twist.
When his son accepts the challenge, Offa turns the screws to make him back down and limits him to females only. In the brute strength world of Anglo Saxon battle they surely haven’t a chance, but Thomas convinces Wulfstan that if they can find the right people, a few new ideas and enough practice might just give those women the tools to become the heroes Wulfstan so desperately needs.
In Two Minds is an incredibly engaging story that is smart, clever, and fascinating. Time displacement tales have always intrigued me, but none so much as this one, where an older man named Thomas, from current time, ends up on a complicated journey that connects him to a ten-year-old boy in Medieval England. How exciting could a ten-year old’s life be? Remarkably, since he is the son of a king, who has just been challenged by his father to run an estate and raise a team of female warriors who can defeat his number one warlord along with 10 of his best warriors.
Thomas and Wolfstan share the Wolfstan’s body and control it as needed. Is it divine intervention or just a cosmic mix-up? That question is put on the back burner as Thomas takes his 21st-century knowledge as a museum curator and advances the ideas of the average medieval mind.
What I loved the most about this story was the formation of an all-female band of warriors who are as endearing as they are amazing fighters. They each have their own set of untapped skills that Thomas quickly acknowledges and utilizes to make what he hopes will be an unstoppable team of warriors. I couldn’t help but be engrossed in their individual stories as well as Thomas / Wolfstan’s. I especially loved Melody being able to choose her name and was intrigued by the unusual glow around her. The fierce independence and determination of Rowena and Berthilda, not to mention Freawaru and Storm, who had me cheering out loud as the story unfolded. It’s always wonderful to read a book that empowers women and showcases their ability to be successful in a man’s world.
I can only imagine what it must have been like to have the wise words of Thomas come out of Wolfstan’s mouth. It must have been disconcerting for the people around him. But, it was easy for me to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story as is – not worrying how crazy that would be.
The modernization of Hengist’s manor and its citizens is creative and many times fun. Thomas tackled hygiene first and from there started crop rotations and slight changes in weapon crafting. Minor changes, but they each had a huge impact and made the medieval setting easy to immerse in. I loved Thomas’ wit and cleverness when dealing with societal problems. He tackled schooling, abuse of powers by priests, and bullying with the same reflective attention to details that he applied to practical matters, showing the citizens what it meant to respect and be respected. He created a whole new world in a short amount of time.
This is the most entertaining story that I have read this year, maybe even longer than that. It has so many elements that make it hard to put down, and that will put a smile on your face.
About the Author – K.T. Findlay
I’ve always been fascinated by the way a single new idea can alter the course of history, and how some ideas stick while others initially sink without trace, only to resurface perhaps hundreds of years later to change the world. The first Prince Wulfstan book, In Two Minds, explores this idea not just by introducing new ideas into a medieval society, but by showing just how difficult it would be to pull that off in practice.
Equally fascinating is the justice system. People expect it to be fair, which is why we allow it to resolve our disputes instead of simply taking revenge ourselves. But watch an individual case play out in court and it can seem more like a high stakes game between lawyers than the pursuit of absolute truth. And if you think it’s a game, do you still accept the result if you lose? Is that still justice? At what point will a perfectly normal, perfectly decent person snap, and what happens when they do? Is it possible to plunge into the darkness of revenge and remain the normal, decent, happy person you were before you started? That was the inspiration behind Sally Mellors, who’s going to give it an extremely good try in A Thoughtful Woman.
I love the moment when an idea jumps out at me. The trick then is to catch it, because I could be dreaming in bed, walking the hills, trying not to kill myself on the quad bike… anywhere in fact, except in front of the computer. Obviously. Slowly the whole thing coalesces and I begin to write it down, fleshing out the gaps, understanding why these people do what they do. I’m the first person in the world to “hear” their story, and I get to write it. That’s exciting! It’s what Terry Pratchett called “The Valley Filled With Clouds” technique and its huge fun.
A lot of research goes into making my fictional worlds as real as possible. It could be learning about the first mountain bikes, or exactly how medieval clothes were made and worn, or the limitations of police radios, or how to blow glass, draw wire, or a thousand other things. I learn new stuff every single day, and that’s fun too.
So if they’re that much fun to write, it seems only fair that the books should be enjoyable to read. Even in their darkest moments, I like my books to have an underlying vein of humour that will make you smile or laugh. There’s nothing wrong with dark, gritty tales, redolent with unrelenting misery. They’re just not what I want to write. I want you to finish my books and return to the world with a spring in your step.
I live on a small farm where I fit in my writing alongside fighting the blackberry, and trying to convince the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a core part of its job description.
See my “About me” on my site.