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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.