The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Voog, son of Donyerth, is descended from a line of builders and repairers of fogous, the multi-chamber burial mounds associated with Brittany.
One exists at Carn Euny, at the far tip of Cornwall, and they may have had religious significance as a place where women would go to give birth, couples spend their wedding night and where the elderly were taken to die before departing for the Celtic afterlife of Annown.
This is the starting point for this 8th-century adventure through the known, and partly known, western maritime world of the time.
The story relates how, when a Viking raid requires the urgent attention of the bridegroom and local chieftain, the bride is left in the care of young Voog, and is seduced by him.
Not surprisingly, he gets banished and the bride goes back to her family in disgrace.
There begins the seafaring adventures of Voog and they're a heady mix of the fantastic, brutal, romantic and mythical.
Yet there are few events bordering on the unbelievable, with the exception of an occasional sea monster and a mermaid.
The tales of the novel's two narrators, Voog and the daughter of the disgraced bride conceived in the sexual encounter, converge as the story proceeds with pace and urgency.
As well as the Annown believers, there are Druids, Christian hermits, Vikings to be avoided and even more so the brutish Saxons.
In his story Alan M Kent explores questions regarding the realities of life as faiths and different people converge.
The imaginative use of existing sources to create a plausibly alternative interpretation of the history of the time is compelling.
Religious leaders provided much of the written "history" of the period, possibly exaggerating their importance.
It is not unreasonable that older cultures which left less in the form of written evidence may have survived in a state of coexistence for longer than we think.
This impressive backdrop is pieced together from Irish legends, Norse sagas, the lives of saints and archaeological evidence.
But that is just one small part of the novel. It is a cracking good story carried along by lively, original and at times poetic writing with added depths of symbolism and outstanding characterisation.