Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Reader's Haven pick for November
Join me at my book discussion site http://readers-haven.webs.com/ for my November discussion. The Pillars of the Earth sweeps through 12th-century England in an era of raging civil war, telling of a group of men and women whose fates are linked to the building of a great cathedral, a site of bloodshed and treachery. A masterpiece of raw courage and passion from the author of Eye of the Needle (from Google books).
They sat down by a stream at midday. They drank the pure water and ate cold bacon and crab-apples which they picked up from the forest floor.
In the afternoon Martha was tired. At one point she was a hundred yards behind them. Standing waiting for her to catch up, Tom remembered Alfred at that age. He had been a beautiful, golden-haired boy, sturdy and bold. Fondness mingled with irritation in Tom as he watched Martha scolding the pig for being so slow. Then a figure stepped out of the undergrowth just ahead of her. What happened next was so quick that Tom could hardly believe it. The man who had appeared so suddenly on the road raised a club over his shoulder. A horrified shout rose in Tom's throat, but before he could utter it the man swung the club at Martha. It struck her full on the side of the head, and Tom heard the sickening sound of the blow connecting. She fell to the ground like a dropped doll.
Tom found himself running back along the road toward them, his feet pounding the hard earth like the hoofs of William's warhorse, willing his legs to carry him faster. As he ran, he watched what was happening, and it was like looking at a picture painted high on a church wall, for he could see it but there was nothing he could do to change it. The attacker was undoubtedly an outlaw. He was a short, thick-set man in a brown tunic with bare feet. For an instant he looked straight at Tom, and Tom could see that the man's face was hideously mutilated: his lips had been cut off, presumably as a punishment for a crime involving lying, and his mouth was now a repulsive permanent grin surrounded by twisted scar tissue. The horrid sight would have stopped Tom in his tracks, had it not been for the prone body of Martha lying on the ground.
The outlaw looked away from Tom and fixed his gaze on the pig. In a flash he bent down, picked it up, tucked the squirming animal under his arm and darted back into the tangled undergrowth, taking with him Tom's family's only valuable possession.