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Mandy Haggith – The Amber Seeker

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There is much to enjoy in the second of Haggith’s trilogy despite a lack of momentum or excitement.

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The Amber Seeker is the second book of a planned trilogy by Mandy Haggith, a sequel to The Walrus Mutterer.

In this novel Haggith follows Pytheas of Massalia, a Greek explorer, on an Iron Age journey. He intends to explore and visit the north routes, seas, lands and people of northern Britain and beyond, describing the currents and waters and the location and sources of precious commodities such as tin, ivory and amber. These are considered resources important to his civilization. Pytheas wants to prove his geographical knowledge to a sceptical homeland, locate the origins of wealthy trade goods and along the way, establish his own reputation and wealth.

The story unfolds in the form of a journal in which Pytheas describes events, people and his own inner thoughts as he navigates what are often turbulent seas. There are new companions and adversaries, and encounters with people Haggith introduced in the aforementioned first book of the trilogy.

In Le Yaudet Pytheas meets the larger than life Ussa, a trader and seductress who, with her crew, is the means to his travels to Alba, ‘the big land to the north’ which lies over the Channel.

Haggith writes fluently and with the light of her research into this period leading her imagination there is a whole new experience for the reader. Her love of the land which is her home, and delight in sailing and the seas is clear.

It is a difficult task to balance a story over three novels. Taken by itself The Amber Seeker does not carry enough momentum or excitement to rush to the anticipated end of the trilogy. There is, however, much to enjoy and learn in this novel. Most particularly, the inner struggle and examination of conscience and guilt that the reader shares with Pytheas has a universal resonance and draws parallels with modern life.