Excerpt from The Abbot's Tale by Conn Iggulden, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Abbot's Tale

by Conn Iggulden

The Abbot's Tale by Conn Iggulden X
The Abbot's Tale by Conn Iggulden
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2018, 480 pages

    Oct 2019, 480 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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Print Excerpt

"Dunstan! His head is in the clouds, I swear it. Dunstan!"

"Yes, Father. I'm sorry. I saw ... the pulleys, how they raise the bags."

He didn't understand my wonder, of course.

"Well, pay attention now, boy! Bend your knee to Father Clement or I will redden your ear for you."

I knelt, though I still felt my mind aflame. I bowed my head, but still tried to glance over to the pulleys and ropes even as I felt the abbot pat my shoulder.

"Boys, Heorstan, eh? Always distracted at that age. Yet there are worse things to tempt a boy than pulleys, is that not so?"

My father smiled, as if accepting the point. I saw he was flushed and I realised he was truly annoyed with me.

"I am sorry, my lord Abbot," I said, looking up. I did not dare to rise without my father's permission. "My name is Dunstan of Baltonsborough. I give you honour and I am pleased to meet you. I have never seen such a ... contrivance before. Please forgive any hurt I may have caused."

The abbot raised his eyebrows at that, then grinned at me, revealing just three brown teeth of unusual length.

"You must call me Father Clement, boy. Your father and I were friends so many years ago it seems another age. I am astonished to see him once more with young sons – and you are welcome here, of course – a local lad brought to follow Christ."

"Thank you, Father Clement," I said, dipping my head once again. He was in earnest, I learned later, one of the true old believers who lived with God on his shoulders and thought evil could be beaten out of a boy. He lived only another year and almost all my memories of him are bitter. Still, he smiled away, all nut-brown and healthy from a life working under the sun.

"Perhaps you should go and see how Wulfric is faring, Dunstan," my father said. "And leave me to discuss our stay at the abbey with Father Clement."

"I would rather speak to those men by the cart, Father, if I may," I said. The reply was thoughtless and innocent enough, though I saw from the tightness of my father's expression that it was the wrong thing. There was a hint of thunder in the abbot's eyes as well, though I did not see the danger then, as I did with my father. Heorstan was too old and slow to catch me, but then I was too young to know I could dodge. So I stood as he backhanded me across the face and sent me sprawling.

"See to your brother," he snarled at me.

I scrambled back up, my cheek flaming as I stood and bowed carefully to them both. Only when my father dismissed me with a sharp gesture did I actually dare to leave. He'd shown another old man he still had authority over a lad, which was important to him. I accepted it out of love, if that makes any sense. I would certainly have borne a thousand blows from him rather than see him reduced in front of strangers. Looking back, I think so still. If he lived, I'd back him so today. Not the abbot, though. I'd strangle that old bastard and put him down the privy.

Excerpted from The Abbot's Tale by Conn Iggulden, published by Pegasus Books. Reprinted with permission. All other rights reserved.

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