Reviewed: 2005-12-02 - (Review Updated: 2005-12-04)
When I was in elementary school I read Robinson Crusoe six times. And then I discovered Swiss Family Robinson and read it many times also. I enjoyed the challenge that a person or family had when thrust into a primitive and dangerous setting, surviving by their wits and the nobility that their advanced education conferred upon them. Later I discovered that there is a name for that kind of story, "survivalist."
I still enjoy this escapist literature so I was predisposed to have a good time reading 'The Return' by Alistair Acorn. And I did have a good time reading it. It was good, journey-back-in-time-to-pre-gunpowder-times-with-a-rifle-in-your-hands fare.
The author indicates that you should read 'Journey to the Past' first, as this is a sequel. As I began reading, I remember having read the first story some years ago, apparently on a different site, so this one worked for me without going back to the beginning.
If you read Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson, you know how starkly different they were from each other. RC was dark and foreboding, nature was a cruel enemy to him. SFR, on the other hand, was happy and heroic. It was a romanticized RC, where the world was kindly and generous. SFR would have scored much higher on SOL because it was not such a downer!
Well, both 'Journey to the Past' and 'The Return' are in the SFR vein, with more danger and conflict in 'Journey..." than in 'The Return,' but neither of them ever raising the pulse rate. Both were well-written, enjoyable if you like this sort of story, little sex in the first book and none in the second. Everything Charlie tries to do in life pretty well succeeds. He has setbacks and losses and heartbreaks, but the world smiles down on Chally with generosity.
'The Return' was not written to be an exciting, action drama, but intends to revel in Britain's pre-Roman civilization, to lift up the Celtic and earlier accomplishments, to tout Gaelic as an important language, to herald the Druid's role in society. It was a fun book to read, and educational for me. (I hope the "education" is founded on some solid research by Alistair Acorn; it had that sense about it.)
I was bothered by the lack of careful proofreading. Every page seemed to have several errors that a good editor should have picked up with even a casual reading. But the easy flow of the story and the attention to detail in this "foreign" culture made this two-book story worth my while. I recommend it to anybody who read and liked RC or SFR. Or 'Aftermath' by Al Steiner for that matter.