Run to the Western Shore by Tim Pears

Two young people escape enslavement together and run. One is the daughter of a celtic tribe leader and the other is the slave of Sextus Julius Frontius, Roman governor of Britain.

The two run, not really sure where they are running to, and meet a range of people on their journey: shepherds who feed them; young drunken men who have to be fooled and a couple who hunt, eat and wear beavers. At last they come to the sea only to be met by Frontius.

Olwen is taken away, Quintus remains a slave but having been free no longer wants to be . And so he slips past the guard and heads for the sea where he sets off swimming.

This book reminded me of The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff. It’s another journey across land by an enslaved person from a writer who is known, and who I love, for his depictions of the landscape and animals. Like Groff, Pears’ characters are there to be put back into history those who have been ignored. By bringing people from two different cultures together, Pears can explain the bumps in the land and the behaviours of animals but it does become a bit lecture-y at times.

I didn’t feel that this book was as good as his West Country trilogy – it feels more like a young adult book – and whilst it combines all of the things that Pears writes so well about, for me, it misses the mark.

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