A powerful fantasy adventure story from the author of The White Cutter and The Ruling Passion. A tale from the depths of history: of love and vengeance, of ancient music and mysticism.
On the Wirral, Athelstan the Thunderbolt fights the battle of Brunanburh, the biggest clash of arms ever seen in these islands, to preserve his hold on England. Teague, a young shepherd-slave caught up in the action, escapes with his life and a questionable liberty.
In his head is a fund of his own songs, celebrating the love of men and women – sounds that bear no reference to other forms of music. Behind him he leaves Gudrun, his owner’s daughter, pregnant with his child. When she is made fatherless by the war she sets out to find Teague, earning her keep by singing her lover’s songs.
This is the time of the Pornocracy, that early part of the tenth century when the papacy sank to its lowest depths. Teague is given the patronage of Wulfstan, renegade Archbishop of York. He is as original a practitioner in politics as Teague is in making music.
Between Teague, Wulfstan and Gudrun a destiny is forged in the shape of a great weird, supervised by a hen stonechat on Scafell Pike, controller of all human destiny. Abidan, the last of the giant upland crows, has the task of managing Teague’s part in the unfolding of this intricately-wrought fate.
Abidan hates Teague for a past wrong: the shepherd came upon Abidan’s husband pecking the eyes out of a newborn lamb and killed the crow with his sling. Although Abidan’s thirst for revenge is great, she does not allow it get in the way of her duty, and follows Teague to Rome where he presents a requiem mass of dangerous and startling innovation.
Steeped in ancient history, WEIRD MUSIC is a fast-moving adventure novel, highly original and profoundly poetic. He evokes the natural landscape of the Wirral with breathtaking clarity. The book investigates all forms of love, ornithology, freedom and servitude, religious and secular power, and the origins of the musical sounds we listen to today.