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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Britain during the Dark Ages is the setting for the fascinating story of Bega, a young Irish princess who became a saint, and her lifelong bond with Padric, prince of the north-western kingdom of Rheged. This dramatic, far-reaching tale brings to life a land of warring kings, Christians and pagans, and tribes divided by language and culture, illuminating a little-known yet ...more
Paperback, 788 pages
Published 1997 by Sceptre (first published April 1996)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  453 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Hilary Green
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant evocation of life in Britain in the 'dark ages' and gives an insight into the beliefs and life-styles of early Celtic Christians. The amount of self-abnegation and sacrifice which they believed necessary to gain salvation is hard to accept from the point of view of our comfortable modern-day lives. I had heard of the synod of Whitby, vaguely, but I had never realized it was such a turning point in the history of the church. Bragg creates a very believable heroine in Bega. I w ...more
Luke Manning
Jan 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is one of those books that I kept reading because I was sure it had to get better. It didn't. Maybe people really were like that back in Dark Ages Britain. I don't know. I do know that the Bega portrayed in this novel is one of the most consistently annoying and frustrating characters ever created. Well, her and God, both of whom feature heavily on every single page of this plodding dud of a book. ...more
The other John
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One finds treasure in the strangest places. Take the small English library here on our small campus in the sticks of Yunnan. Compared to many libraries, it's a pitiful thing. It holds maybe two hundred books, mostly classics abridged or rewritten for foreign language students and children's books. For an adult native English speaker, it's quite boring. There are, however, a handful of grown-up books here. My wife, in her desperation for reading material has perused them. For the most part, she w ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
" Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction ""This novel set in Britain and Ireland during the dark ages is the tale of a young Irish princess who became a saint and of her lifelong bond with a prince of the north-western kingdom of Rheged - a land of warriors and miracles, where the British people survived."" What this book is really all about "Stand fast I must" against everything that could be possible - family, beliefs, politics, language, loyalties etc. The 2 main protagonists are Brega and Padric. B ...more
Eva Kristin
First of all: This book was too long. The story could have been told, and told better I think, in half the number of pages. The theme, the meeting between the wild, personal and intuitive Celtic church and the orderly, distant and rigid Roman church, was very fascinating. The problem is the main caracters, Bega and Padric, who are static, annoying and boring. I think telling more of this story from Ecfirth’s point of view would have greatly improved it, since he was one of the few persons who ca ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
When I lend this book to borrowers at library I always want to yell- run save yourself! It's not worth the time the story goes nowhere and that's hard to do in over 1000 pages. This took me a year to read I kept thinking it will get better I love this genre but it never did. This book is the reason I gave up on my quest to finish every book I start life is too short. ...more
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent balance of narrative, historical evocation and characterisation. Written in a pacy style.
I'm presently reading Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, comparable in some ways to Bragg's novel, but am shocked at how he litters his style with cliche after cliche. E.g. his heart was in his mouth!I may review it when I finish it.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book about four times and will probably read it again... At least I've now got it in e-book format! I enjoyed the scope of the book and the evocation of early Britain and the lives of the people. I certainly enjoyed the length so that I didn't feel 'wrenched away' too soon. ...more
Martin Noutch
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Struggled to finish this. Shame. Should have been shorter and better.
Sandy Morley
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Academically interesting, the prose is jumpy and storytelling dull. Worse, Bragg didn't get the memo that less is more, and there's more waffle than a Belgian pastry fair. ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
okay so i’m not christian but i am interested in the dark ages and cumbria (where i’m from) so this book was v v interesting. like don’t get me wrong was a very unnecessarily long book but was also lovely to read and beautifully described my home xoxox
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book and they were, unfortunately, not met. In summary - I wouldn't bother.

I began with the assumption that this novel was a piece of historical fiction; that it would be well-researched, intelligent and offer an interesting perspective on the expansion of Christianity in the British Isles in the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman Empire. I don't really think Credo fulfils those objectives particularly well, and I'm quite tempted to tag it fantasy or magical realism
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: anglo-saxons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Humberstone
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Good description of the Dark Ages and the religious zeal of those wanting to convert others as Christianity progresses throughout Britain and Ireland. It includes a sad, unfulfilled, love story that has to be denied because of the vow to love Jesus above all others. It is unduly long and sometimes 'rambles' a bit too much, however, the descriptions of the beliefs and conflicts of the time are good. ...more
Mary Lea
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is seriously awesome - and almost impossible to get hold of on amazon. Everybody, order this book off them so they get more stock in! It's like travelling time rather than reading a book. incredibly well researched, but never overly weighty in its academia. Well plotted, well paced, with good dialogue, and believable characters. Definitely a must read. ...more
Margaret Sankey
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Old school epic historical novel, covering a generation of 7th century Britain, as Celts and Germanic invaders jostle for power and use Christianity (from Ireland and Rome) as a lever to get land, loyalty and authority. Bragg does a masterful job of reconstructing everyday life and the beliefs of the people.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Too frustrating and depressing.
Reynold Levocz
A little too far reaching on unfulfilled love.
C. A. Powell
I read this when it first came out. It had splendid write-ups as I recall and that is partly what made me buy this novel. I also enjoy anything to do with Dark Age Britain. It seemed full of promise, but I began to struggle with how tedious it was. The Irish princess, Brega began to get on my nerves. Her character was very wooden. Pardic of Rheged was a yawn too. It just seemed to go on and on. The book was far too long. Not one I would recommend even though the backdrop of Brittonic peoples str ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book better than I did. It should have been fascinating - an enthralling exploration of Celtic Christianity in 7th century Britain. There was great passion in it - the passion of the early Christian zealots, of kings and princes fighting for power and revenge, of love thwarted - but somehow it didn't touch me emotionally, and I can't understand why. I think somehow the author fails to put the reader inside the minds, hearts and souls of the main characters, Bega and ...more
Myles Robinson
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
As many others have said, it is long and the pacing very deliverate. You also have to have a particular interest in the history of Christianity in dark age Britain because, Melvyn being Melvyn, the history comes before the story.

As an avid In Our Time listener, however, I knew what to expect and thoroughly enjoyed the story. It really does make you stop and think from a different perspective - imagine the world as described by Bede where miracles do happen and faith is a constant test against yo
Wyktor Paul
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a book! I'd not have been able to read this earlier in my life as the subject matter would nave put me off. Being older I got right into the story, and the history of Christianity and thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus I learned a bit about the early history of Christianity which I never knew before.
An excellent book that's well-written. I recommend it to everyone with an interest in history.
wayne mcauliffe
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Some parts of this novel are brilliant like the savagery of the times especially at the beginning in Ireland and the battles in the North of Britain.But even though this book is heavily about religion pretty much as soon as it raises its head it gets bogged down for me.Suppose that comes from being a atheist.Anyway still worth a read for a look at the 7th century and you can always skim the religious crap like i did if you want.
Richard Marshall
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A sweeping narrative of the (imagined) life of Bega, an Irish princess and Celtic Christian missionary who lived in the Early Middle Ages. Her story is interspersed with that of Padric a Celtic hero reputed to be her lover. Bragg manages to convey the brutality of the times without degrading the romance.
Margaret Haigh
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-challenge
A really good meaty read. Ostensibly a love story between Bega and Padraid set in the 7th century it deals with the conflict between the Celtic and Roman Christian churches and the Whitby synod and its consequences. Much more readable than this précis sounds. Would recommend.
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Utterly compelling. I Thoroughly enjoyed this saga of the mythical/ historical life of St Bega. Having visited St Bees, I have been intrigued by her and Melvyn Bragg's depiction of how Christianity sat in the desperate, turbulent times of The Dark Ages, is totally credible and fascinating.

It may be that the passionate internal dilemmas of Bega are too much for many, but for me, that aided the perhaps unimaginable agony of wanting to be a religious in any period of history. Coming after reading a
Jared Lanigan
Mar 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
So thoroughly researched you wouldn’t know if it were historical fiction or a simple retelling of events. A bloody and immersive dive into Dark Ages Britain with an emergent Christianity beginning to define the politics of an otherwise Pagan world.
Samantha Grosser
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just came across this book again and remembered how much I loved it. A beautifully imagined history that draws you into a world we have almost forgotten.
Interesting to learn of a St. Bega, but turgid and ultimately too long. It became boring.
Chris Barraclough
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I hadn't known Melvyn Bragg could write before I read this. What a wonderful read it is! So absorbing and vivid, with believable characters and lots of fascinating background about the times. Northumberland in the early days of Christianity in Britain, with early saints, warriors and legendary figures. If you are interested in this time and place you will not be disappointed, and if not you might become so after reading Credo. Bragg is a talented writer, and he has created here a compelling tour ...more
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Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg, FRSL, FRTS (born 6 October 1939) is an English author, broadcaster and media personality who, aside from his many literary endeavours, is perhaps most recognised for his work on The South Bank Show.

Bragg is a prolific novelist and writer of non-fiction, and has written a number of television and film screenplays. Some of his early television work was in collaboration wit

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