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The Wake

by Paul Kingsnorth

The Wake

Hardcover, 365 pages, Gardners Books, List Price: $28.25 |


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Paul Kingsnorth

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Paperback, 365 pages, Farrar Straus & Giroux, $16, published September 1 2015 | purchase

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The Wake
Paul Kingsnorth

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NPR Summary

In a postapocalyptic novel set a thousand years in the past, the Buccmaster, a proud landowner bearing witness to the end of his world after the Norman invasion of 1066, and band of like-minded men embark on a dangerous mission of revenge on the invaders across the scorched English landscape.

Read an excerpt of this book

Also by Paul Kingsnorth

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: The Wake

The Wake

the night was clere though i slept i seen it. though i slept i seen the calm hierde naht only the still. when i gan down to sleep all was clere in the land and my dreams was full of stillness but my dreams did not cepe me still

when i woc in the mergen all was blaec though the night had gan and all wolde be blaec after and for all time. a great wind had cum in the night and all was blown then and broc. none had thought a wind lic this colde cum for all was blithe lifan as they always had and who will hiere the gleoman when the tales he tells is blaec who locs at the heofon if it brings him regn who locs in the mere when there seems no end to its deopness

none will loc but the wind will cum. the wind cares not for the hopes of men

the times after will be for them who seen the cuman

the times after will be for the waecend


who is thu

who is thu i can not cnaw

what is angland to thu what is left of angland

i specs i specs

but no man lystens


the songs from the holt

songs yes here is songs from a land forheawan folded under by a great slege a folc harried beatan a world brocen apart. all is open lic a wound unhealan and grene the world open and grene all men apart from the heorte. deofuls in the heofon all men with sweord when they sceolde be with plough the ground full not of seed but of my folc

aefry ember of hope gan lic the embers of a fyr brocen in the daegs beginnan brocen by men other than us. hope falls harder when the end is cwic hope falls harder when in the daegs before the storm the stillness of the age was writen in the songs of men

so it is when a world ends

who is thu i can not cnaw but i will tell thu this thing

be waery of the storm

be most waery when there is no storm in sight


tell them


loc it is well cnawan there is those wolde be tellan lies and those with only them selfs in mynd. there is those now who specs of us and what we done but who cnawan triewe no man cnawan triewe but i and what i tell i will tell as i sceolde and all that will be telt will be all the triewth. triewth there is lytel of now in this half broc land our folc wepan and greotan and biddan help from their crist who locs on in stillness saen naht. and no triewth will thu hiere from the hore who claims he is our cyng or from his biscops or those who wolde be his men by spillan anglisc guttas on anglisc ground and claiman anglisc land their own

ah but we is broc now dreaned we is too small to feoht mor we has borne it too hard we secs now only to lif. and if there is any left who thincs to lif after his triewth or after the laws of the crist if there is any thincs him self abuf this through luf or through mildness of heorte then he will die with his wif and his cildren for all is broc now

all is broc

still i will stand and i will tell the triewth the triewth of what i done and for what i was feohtan and how i was brocen by those ficol hores what i stood and cwelled for. i has not forgot i has cept it for there is micel must be telt and words now is left my only waepens and none wolde sae i has efer been afeart to wield what waepens i has

because of what is wispred it moste be telt what befell

i was a socman of the blaec fenns a free man of the eald danelaugh where there was no ealdors too high for the folc to cum to and if they wolde pull down. thu wolde not cnaw it to see me now my nebb blaec all is broc a lif in fenn and holt but i was a free man of angland a man of parts in my land i was born this way i is still a free man i is still a free man

to them i wants to cnaw it i is named buccmaster of holland

the songs will be sung for a thousand years

our fathers was freer than us our fathers fathers stalcced the wilde fenns now the fenns is bean tamed efry thing gets smaller. for efry cilde born there is sum new law a man sceolde be free and alone on his land the world sceolde not cum in until he ascs it. freodom sceolde there be in angland again lic there was in the eald daegs in the first daegs of the anglisc

freodom in angland

now if this bastard is gifan to lif the fenns will be succd of the sea and gifan to the land gifan ofer to man and the gods of the secg and the water will die and the spirit of our folc in these lands will die. the wilde will be tacan from these fenns and the wilde will be tacan from in me for in efry man there is the wind and the water and his worc until he is tacan is to cepe the wilde lands from the tamers

cwell the bastard

cwell the bastard

cwell the bastard

in these places there is wihts uncnawan to man there moste be no law put on us by sweord or by word of ingenga cyng

bastard tamer with stan and style the wilde is all

wood not stan

it will tac thu baec

water not the lea

it can wait long

the hafoc not the ox

but we colde not wait long we colde wait no mor

an unfree land breeds an unfree folc

and i moste go baec now baec before the storm baec to when things was still lic the springmere

go baec yes

go baec

From The Wake, Copyright 2013 by Paul Kingsnorth. Excerpted with permission from Graywolf Press.