Think “The Bourne Identity” meets “Lord of the Rings”. Think sixth century historical fiction meets unconventional Christian plot line. Munnin’s Keep (Word Aline Press, ISBN 978-1-926676-66-1) is an intriguing concoction of elements that produces and entertaining read. The main character, the teenager Theodoric, awakes from unconscious delirium, beaten and in slavery. A prophesy suggest he might be more. His highly tuned fighting skills make him too dangerous to enslave. With the help of a few friends, Theodoric pursues the answers to his past and discovers his destiny.
Brian Austin melds an intriguing plot with crisp, historically consistent writing to produce an entertaining read. What makes his story so compelling is that he doesn’t force the plot to conform to traditional Christian conventions. The main characters don’t end up ‘saved’. The novel’s Christian representative even turns out to be a poor example for the faith. Instead, a skeptical Theodoric appeals to the god of an ancient scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
The weakness of Brian Austin’s novel is the lack of a true foil. The story lacks the drama of enmity between Theodoric and a proper villain. There is plenty of tension as Munnin’s Keep faces waves of raiding Pict hordes. Yet even this lacks the antagonism of a archetypal villain determined to upset the fate of Theodoric. This element aside, Munnin’s Keep is the kind of tale that breeds an anticipated sequel. There are many hot days left in this summer. Munnin’s Keep is a great way to wile away the dog days of summer.