A young boy is given to Redestone monastery in 7th century England. Winwaed's father has made a promise during the war that his next born son would go to God, so Winwaed is donated at a young age. As the country encounters wars, plagues and political upheaval, Winwaed watches from the confines of the monastery grounds. As he grown Winwaed earns the position as the one to climb a nearby mountain to deliver supplies to a monk who has decided to live as a hermit. The hermit becomes a father figure to Winwaed, teaching him about nature and deep prayer. Winwaed begins to enjoy his trips up the mountain. When Winwaed's biological father arrives at the monastery, Winwaed becomes torn. His father delights him with stories of war and his mother; then he asks Winwaed to pray for the fall of another at the monastery. Winwaed becomes confused and begins to question his life.
Written as a confession from the perspective of a young boy, Winwaed's perspective becomes a window into life in the Dark Ages, written with a simplistic beauty that brought to life the everyday workings of a monastery. Through Winwaed's sin of questioning his religion, he is forced to write his confession, which becomes an autobiography of his time at Redestone. Since Winwaed is looking back on his childhood, the writing has a wonderful sense of nostalgia. One of the first scenes, when Winwaed is first dropped off at the monastery and a Brother makes a snowman with Winwaed to comfort him, drew me in with. His time spent with the hermit was also endearing and provided some of my favorite parts of the story. Through his time at the monastery, Winwaed lives through many events, written with historical accuracy, Winwaed recounts surviving a plague, the rise and fall of Kings and Queens and the impacts of the political upheaval on the monastery and the nearby town. Though this story takes place in a monastery, there is actually not an overbearing religious tone, which I am glad for. Also, since the writing is from Winwaed's perspective, simply recounting the facets of his life, there is no huge climax or large mystery, but rather just the examination of his life and what has caused Winwaed to question his teachings.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.