When that the holy season of pasch was overpast, the jarls busked them both for the tryst.  The jarl Magnus Erlend's son gathered into two ships leal and trusty and large-hearted men, as many as had been sworn, and held course for Egil's Isle.  They sailed upon a calm and a blissful sea-road, but that one billow rose and broke about the helm-bound jarl.  Was meikle marvel in the two dove-ships anent that token.  And the jarl saith, 'The sign sheweth
I fare fast to my life's close.  For there will be brought to birth soon a dark foretelling anent the jarl Hakon.  Rest ye sure of that.  My kinsman Hakon cometh his own gait to this tryst.'  Fell then a sudden death-dread upon the ships, and voices that urged return, and hands were held out yearningly towards the hither healthful shore.  The jarl Magnus maketh true response, 'Fare yet forward, not I but God is helmsman here.'

GMB 1973


published 1973
The Hogarth Press

Magnus published in Italian
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Euro 12.91


'. . . .a distinctive and distinguished novel, of unusual power and purity..[Mr Brown] uses language with beautiful precision, resource and power.he infuses his pared-down, muscular narrative with a profound, illuminating insight into the symbolic and sacramental significance of events.  This book is that rarest creation, a gravely beautiful celebration of hard-won and timeless faith.'

Maurice Wiggan

'George Mackay Brown is a writer of the kind we have largely lost.the singer of the epic song.The superbly complex nature of the symbol - its simplicity garmenting rich variety, its piercing truth for all time - is as natural to him as weather is to the world.  Magnus is, I believe, the most beautiful contemporary book I have ever read.'

Jacky Gillott

A reader from
from Kensington, MD, USA: 

Magnus is a powerful story of sacrifice. Brown uses several poetic devices to tell the tale. They include using language reminiscent of Norse sagas and placing his characters in a Nazi prison, where Magnus becomes Bonhoeffer. I'm not certain it all works, but Brown's poetic sensibility and eloquence make the novel compelling.

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