Publication Date: October 25, 2011
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In second-century Britain, Macey and a gang of fellow deserters from the Roman army hunt and are hunted by deadly local tribes. Fifteen centuries later, during the English Civil War, Thomas Rowley hides from the ruthless troops who have encircled his village. And in contemporary Britain, Tom, a precocious, love-struck, mentally unstable teenager, struggles to cope with the imminent departure for London of his girlfriend, Jan.
Three separate stories, three utterly different lives, distant in time and yet strangely linked to a single place, the mysterious, looming outcrop known as Mow Cop, and a single object, the blunt head of a stone axe: all these come together in Alan Garner’s extraordinary Red Shift, a pyrotechnical and deeply moving elaboration on themes of chance and fate, time and eternity, visionary awakening and destructive madness.
Alan Garner (b. 1934) has lived for most of his life in Cheshire, England. His first book, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen came out in 1960 and since then he has published eight novels for children and adults, as well as opera libretti, plays, and collections of folktales. Among his books are The Owl Service (winner of the Carnegie Medal; 1967), The Stone Book Quartet (comprising The Stone Book, Granny Reardun, Tom Fobble’s Day, and The Aimer Gate; 1983), Strandloper (1996), and Thursbitch (2003). In 2001 Garner was appointed to the Order of the British Empire for services to literature.
“Red Shift, with its passionately bickering adolescent lovers and its vertiginous plunges through the wormhole of time, shook me to the core every time I read it, and still does. . . . More than any orthodox work of historical fiction, it was this weird fantasy novel which taught me to look beyond the walls of my own era, my own reality. Garner makes the past numinous, terrifyingly real: anything but passed.”
“Garner squeezes language into depth charges which will detonate emotions at a level where words cannot reach.”
“A bitter, complex, brilliant book.” —Ursula Le Guin
“Long before Philip Pullman and J. K. Rowling there was Alan Garner, a children’s author who crossed the boundaries between real and imaginary worlds—and between a young and an adult readership.”
—The Times (London) list of the 50 greatest British postwar writers
“A work of poetic imagination that will keep any adult mind at full stretch.”
—Daily Mail (London)
“. . . a magnificently multilayered novel. . . a superbly exciting piece of literature.” —The Sunday Times (London)