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Raven's wind (1983)

Novel (185 pages, 69,410 words)


First edition

US edition

The Book

This was Canning's last excursion into historical romance, set in ninth-century Britain. Justus and Riada have just made love on a Dorset beach when a Viking warship arrives. Riada escapes but Justus is taken as a slave to Denmark. There he learns the craft of shipbuilding and manages to build himself a boat on which he comes back to England, enters the service of King Alfred and encourages him to establish a navy. There are battles galore. We even get the episode of the burnt cakes. On the last page the lovers are reunited after a dozen years and other marriages apart.

Canning returns to the archaically bardic style of the last of his Arthurian trilogy, The Immortal Wound, adding some verse. He is obviously having a lot of fun inventing vocabulary and syntax appropriate to his Saxon warriors. There is also a surprising amount of frank descriptions of sex and pregnancy.

Publishing History

This was published by Heinemann in 1983 at 7.95. The US edition by Morrow came out in the same year at $11.95. There has never been a paperback or a book club edition.

The dedication is "For Dorotea Irving-Bell". She was the sister of Adria Canning's first husband.