Sam Gayton is exhilarated by the brilliance of Terry Jones.
A few years ago, I picked up an old Terry Jones story at a boot fair. I loved his fairy tales when I was a kid, and this one looked fun too: The Saga of Erik the Viking.
I started to read it on my way back home. I never made it through my door. I sat on the front step outside my flats and devoured chapter after chapter. When it was done, I put it down feeling exhilarated but also a little bit jealous – the way I feel when I read any author who has just written something brilliant.
It’s not just the breath-taking number of adventures – across seas, through snowstorms, and over the edge of the world. It’s Erik’s many battles – against the terrifying Dogfighters, against his own men, and even against Death Himself. It’s the fact that Terry Jones manages to say important things about leadership, and colonialism, whilst telling a rollicking good adventure story. And he does it all whilst being very funny.
A book that’s both serious and funny, timeless and modern, trivial and profound… How I wish I’d written Terry Jones’s The Saga of Erik the Viking!
The Saga of Erik the Viking (978-0140322613) by Terry Jones, illustrated by Michael Foreman is published by Puffin, £6.99
Sam Gayton’s latest book Hercufleas (978-1849396363) is published by Andersen Press, £6.99.