Welcome to this week's edition of Timeslip Tuesday. Please send me links to your own timeslip reviews! They don't have to have been posted today--time is malleable, after all, and I'm happy to post links to books reviewed in the distant past.
The first timeslip book that I can remember reading was The Gauntlet, by Ronald Welch (1951). I was 9-ish, and well on my way to a love affair with all things medieval, and I thought this book was just the greatest thing ever.
On the wild hills of Wales, lost in the mist, an English boy named Peter finds a gauntlet laying on the grass.
"Hardly realizing what he was doing, he slipped his right hand inside the heavy gauntlet, and his fingers groped inside the wide spaces, for it was far too large for his small hand.Still in the present, Peter learns that he is related to the De Blois family, the Norman lords of the nearby ruined castle. In the local church, he finds the brass plaque commemorating a boy named Peter De Blois, who died 800 years ago.
From behind there came the thud of hooves, a shout, shrill and defiant, the clang of metal on metal, and then a confused roar of sounds, shouts, more hoof-beats, clang after clang, dying away into the distance as suddenly as they had come. The gauntlet slipped form Peter's hand, and he shook himself as it he had just awakened."
The gauntlet takes him back to that time, and he becomes that long dead Peter, enjoying loving parents and the most luxurious life that Norman Wales can offer, but with the threat of a Welsh uprising a constant reality. Always over his head hangs the shadow of the real Peter De Blois, who died so young...and when the Welsh do attack, Peter must risk his own life to save the castle and his family
I found another copy of this book last year, and was prepared to be just as enchanted as I had been when I was nine. It didn't happen. I seem to have added in my own mind a lot of extra story involving Peter's relationships with his medieval parents, that wasn't there in the real book. Sigh.
Ronald Welch eschews such emotional characterization in favor of detailed lessons in medieval armor, falconry, food, warfare, and the like--this is one of those timeslip stories where the author uses the ignorance of his main character as a didactic platform. It's still a pretty good story, and I guess that at the time I must have found all the details of medieval life fascinating. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to a young reader, but I think that us adult type readers of juvenile timeslips, with our more demanding expectations, might find it a bit too heavy handed. I also am now firmly on the side of the Welsh.
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