The Boudica Effect

Not sure if I’m much clearer than yesterday but here we go.  I enjoyed Manda Scott’s ‘Dreaming the Serpent Spear’, was challenged and moved by it.  Although as I said, there are lots of battles and some at least of the characters view heroic death in battle as preferable to a long life, the complexity of the realpolitik of war is addressed.  One of the main protagonists has returned to fight for the Boudica after training as a Roman soldier.  As we know, the occupation occurred over time and many of the indigenous people became assimilated to the culture, some being given Roman citizenship.  So it ceases to be a simple ‘us and them’ situation.

Manda Scott portrays the leading characters as fighting from conviction and not mere blood lust but war is almost a calling and not simply a necessary evil.  The ‘dreamers’ represent the other side of human nature – reflection rather than action if you like. The most important characters do incorporate both and are of course sometimes pulled in both directions. 

Then there’s the sexual orientation aspect – same sex loves feature as a fact of life taken for granted by the characters. My favourite bit is when two erstwhile lovers, now on opposite sides of the conflict discuss the afterlife.  One promises to wait for the other if he should ‘cross the river to the gods first’.  ‘Will your gods allow it since they are not mine?’ comes the question to which the reply is, ‘They will always allow it.  It’s only men who need ownership.  The gods allow more freedom’.   

There’s something here about the nature of love and what is important beyond the humanly constructed divisions we create.

It’s a world of spirit guides and ancestral voices where everyone accepts that there is a life beyond the earthly mortal experience.  What we might call the Richard Dawkins world view regards any return to nature religions or spiritual paths as so much illusion.  (David hume wouldn’t think much of it either)  Now you might say ‘Alison, it’s fantasy, not philosophy’.   But the thing is Manda Scott is serious about this.  Click on ‘dreamer’ in yesterday’s blog to see how serious.

I found myself recalling that the work on my own novel was sparked by an experience which was, I suppose, a kind of’dreaming’ – a visceral memory deeply buried and wanting explored.  The main character is shocked by his emotional reactions and by his sense that he knows things that, at a rational level he can’t possibly know.  He’s an educated Scottish male compelled to face the possibility that Hamlet was right: ‘There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

And quoting myself this time, I feel like I’m juggling with wet fish here trying to express some of the effect of this book.

2 Responses to “The Boudica Effect”

  1. 1 rosemary September 14, 2007 at 8:36 am

    One of the books which most influenced me was Peter Berger’s ‘A rumour of angels’ – it is not as you might think an account of of either traditional or new agey angelness. It is a sociology of knowledge. it examines how we are influenced, not so much by truth or by rational knowledge, as by what those around us believe. It makes one ask oneself, very carefully, from there on in, how far dismissive comments and other people’s opinions influence one and how far one is actually weighing up experiences and arguments.

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