The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland
Years ago, in college, I read La Chanson de Roland for a class on Medieval Europe. I can’t remember much else about the class, but I do recall being enchanted by the epic poem detailing the final battle of a French knight serving under Charlemagne. Even years later, the poem stuck with me, and when I saw The Silver Horn Echoes, I knew I had to be the one to review it.
I was not disappointed. Though The Silver Horn Echoes began its life as a screenplay (and now that I’ve read it, I wish it could have continued so that I could see such an epic on the silver screen), it has made the transition to being a novel wonderfully. From the brave Roland to the treacherous Ganelon, from the beautiful Aude to Charlemagne himself, we get a glimpse into the minds of the characters who have become legends. Michael Eging and Steve Arnold have done for Roland what Jack Whyte did for the Arthurian mythos. They have brought the story into the real world and turned it into flesh and blood.
The Silver Horn Echoes is not just a retelling of La Chanson de Roland. It isn’t even just a gritty, realistic version, though it certainly does have more grit than the original. These characters aren’t legends anymore. They are real people, with all the dirt, mess, and glory that implies. What really struck me about the book was its framing device. The book opens with a prologue of William the Soon-to-be-Conqueror invading England, and one of his men relates the story of Roland to stir the troops for battle. Even legends have their legends.
Those legends, however, may not always be as legendary as they seem in our minds. William’s less complimentary moniker, “The Bastard,” may not always refer to his birth, and the first time we encounter Roland in the book, he will not strike anyone as a hero. He drinks and carouses, and while this is rather what we might expect from noblemen of the time, it isn’t quite the image any of us would have of a hero. I doubt it will spoil anything to say that Roland does indeed become the man we all expect him to be, or that it is a journey well worth taking. Whether you have read La Chanson de Roland or will be first introduced to it by this book, I highly recommend reading it.
|Page Count||304 pages|
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