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Simon Acland spent twenty-five years as a venture capitalist backing high technology businesses. The sale of his firm in 2007 gave him the opportunity to do something completely different. The Waste Land is the product of several overlapping interests: fascination with the original twelfth century grail romances as a result of studying French at Oxford, enthusiasm for the meanings and origins of ancient myths and legends, and awe for T S Eliot's genius in blending these elements together and giving them universal meaning. His first novel also betrays his suspicion of organised religion, his interest in medieval history, and his enjoyment of adventure stories in the old style.
Historical novels can be difficult to penetrate, especially if you have no particular interest in the time and context they are set. The Flowers of Evil, set in the crusading early twelfth century, skillfully overcomes this dilemma. First, as is relatively common, by using the present tense to help you empathise with the main character Hugh de Verdon. Second, more unusually, by bringing you back to the present time every other chapter. This clever device helps move the historical narrative along as well as introducing an interesting modern-day sub plot. Intelligently and perceptively written, The Flowers of Evil (ref. 'Fleurs du Mal' - Baudelaire) is a welcome and worthy addition to The Waste Land (ref. T.S. Eliot), Acland's debut, which we waxed lyrical about when it was published last year. Rest assured it's well worth a read whether you're a historical fiction fan or not.
Runner-up for the People's Book Prize for Fiction 2012. Set during the extraordinary historical events of the First Crusade this is an original and compelling debut full of mystery, betrayal, secrecy, romance, humour and suspense. Like Dan Brown’s adventures this one is also on the hunt for the Holy Grail and is also a cracking good story but unlike the Dan Brown this one provides an element of literary learning too. Clashes of good and evil as well as clashes of religion is commonplace as a group of desperate Oxford Dons retell the story of Hugh de Verdon, monk turned knight who sets out to uncover the truth behind the Holy Grail. September 2010 Debut of the Month. The second book in the series, The Flowers of Evil, can be viewed by clicking here. The Waste Land was runner-up for the People's Book Prize for Fiction 2012. Simon Acland's non-fiction book, Angels, Dragons and Vultures was also runner-up for the People's Book Prize for Non-Fiction.