Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in 7th century England, The Oblate’s Confession tells the story of Winwaed, a boy who – in a practice common at the time – is donated by his father to a local monastery. In a countryside wracked by plague and war, the child comes to serve as a regular messenger between the monastery and a hermit living on a nearby mountain.
Missing his father, he finds a surrogate in the hermit, an old man who teaches him woodcraft, the practice of contemplative prayer, and, ultimately, the true meaning of fatherhood. When the boy’s natural father visits the monastery and asks him to pray for the death of his enemy – an enemy who turns out to be the child’s monastic superior – the boy’s life is thrown into turmoil. It is the struggle Winawed undergoes to answer the questions – Who is my father? Whom am I to obey? – that animates, and finally necessitates, The Oblate’s Confession.
While entirely a work of fiction, the novel’s background is historically accurate: all the kings and queens named really lived, all the political divisions and rivalries actually existed, and each of the plagues that visit the author’s imagined monastery did in fact ravage that long-ago world. In the midst of a tale that touches the human in all of us, readers will find themselves treated to a history of the “Dark Ages” unlike anything available today outside of textbooks and original source material.
Through this story, the reader is taken back to the7th century, when part of the country currently known as Great Britain was divided in at least 7 different regions including Bernicia, North Umbria (which was situated in York), Mercia, Wessex, Essex, Sussex, Kent and others.
As expected, the regions were always vying for power among themselves. As Summer season came, along with the heat, so came disease, plagues and other calamities; these were difficult times for everyone.
This is the story of Winwaed, a boy whose warrior father Ceolwulf hands to the monks of the Redestone Monastery to undertake his care. One day during his upbringing, he’s taken to a nearby mountain to meet Father Gwynedd, the hermit.
As the boy grows older and his visits to the hermit become more frequent, Winwaed begins to develop a special place in his heart for the hermit, to the point that a father–son bond begins to emerge. The hermit teaches him the art of hunting, wood carving and above all, the power of prayer.
On a least expected day, Winwaed’s biological father (Coelwulf) arrives at the monastery to see his son and spend all night with him. Winwaed listened to his father, who then asked him to do something of utmost importance…To pray for the death of his father’s enemies, the biggest of which was the hermit.
At that moment, Winwaed begins to experience an internal conflict, not only because of his father’s wishes, but because of the love he also has for him. Will Winwaed honor his father’s request, despite the equally powerful love he feels for the hermit? What will he do?
I invite you to read this book to find out what Winwaed will decide and enjoy the unraveling of this story. Will Winwaed see his father again and...What will become of Gwynedd the hermit?
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About the Author
William Peak spent ten years researching and writing The Oblate’s Confession, his debut novel. Based upon the work of one of the great (if less well known) figures of Western European history, the Venerable Bede, Peak’s book is meant to reawaken an interest in that lost and mysterious period of time sometimes called “The Dark Ages.”
Peak received his baccalaureate degree from Washington & Lee University and his master’s from the creative writing program at Hollins University. He works for the Talbot County Free Library on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Thanks to the column he writes for The Star Democrat about life at the library (archived at http://www.tcfl.org/peak/), Peak is regularly greeted on the streets of Easton: “Hey, library guy!” In his free time he likes to fish and bird and write long love letters to his wife Melissa.
For more information please visit William Peak’s website.