Kristin's Reviews > Eifelheim

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
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Apr 10, 08

bookshelves: scifi-bkgrp-selection, science-fiction, hugo-nominee
Read in March, 2008

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn was March’s book group selection that nobody finished, but we all wanted to. The group collectively just ran out of time. It happens. Eifelheim was also a Hugo Nominee in 2007 that didn’t come out in paperback until the end of the year so I didn’t have a chance to read it before the Hugo Awards were announced.

Eifelheim is set in Southern Germany in the late 1300's. The Black Plague has begun it’s death march farther north, but to the small village of Oppenheim it is a distant threat. The main character, Dietrich is the spiritual leader of the village and friend to Manfred, the Herr of the lands. It is Dietrich who discovers the Krencken, a strange group of men which resemble large grasshoppers, who have taken up illegal residence in the Herr’s forest. The Herr wants them expelled and it’s Dietrich who persuades him that they have no place to go. It is through Dietrich’s eyes that we watch the metamorphosis of the village attitudes towards these strange men from afar.

There is a second storyline surrounding Tom and Sharon, an historian and a, well, I’m going to call her an astrophysist. Tom has taken an interest in why a small German village named Eifelheim was never repopulated when according to all his charts and modules it should have been. Sharon is exploring the space between space. This second story line wasn’t nearly as interesting as the one with Dietrich, but it had it’s place.

I really enjoyed this book. The nuances of medieval village life that Flynn incorporated added a subtle depth to not only the characters but the world they lived in. It made the appearance of the aliens and the villages acceptance (or not in some instances) plausible and believable. Flynn also hinted at a richer past to Dietrich, an almost “Brother Cadfael” background if you will, which elevated his character from that of a bumbling village priest to someone you wanted to sit down and get to know over a cup of mead.

I recommend this book. Well written and interesting.
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