The Abbot’s Tale Review

The Abbot’s Tale by Conn Iggulden is a remarkable novel regarding the life of a monk named Dunstan between the middle and end of the 10th century within England. Although labeled as a historical fiction piece of work, there was actually a monk in that period named Dunstan whose adventures, scheming and actions have in some way shaped England not only during the span of his life but beyond that as well. Relying on Dunstan’s actual written autobiography, the author does his best to piece together his life and how one monk rose up against so many odds stacked against him. When complications arise, he does his best to make up the events that he believes had the highest chance of actually happening based on other recorded events within that timeframe. This history piece is anything but boring!

If you can’t be born a king, be made a king, though that has thorns. When violent men secure your crown, they keep a knife at your throat ever after. Last, and not the least of these, is this: if you can’t be born a king or made a king, you might still anoint one.


One of the best parts regarding Dunstan himself, although some would highly disagree, is his character and attitude itself. While most would immediately view monks and priests as calm, collected and a moral example to follow, Dunstan can be a bit more radical when required. That is how I believe most to be. Although Dunstan is God-fearing and all the other traits one would characterize men of the monastic order to inhibit, especially of the St. Benedictine order, one simply does not get to counsel multiple kings and even play the role of kingmaker by being just a normal and sheltered away monk in an abbey. To sum it up as best I can, Dunstan is a man who believes the end justifies the means. But hey, we are all sinners.

We all claim to despise price, but honestly, must we pretend to be unaware of our talents, year after year?


It can’t be helped that I got multiple flashes of Netflix’s The Last Kingdom series while reading The Abbot’s Tale. That series actually took place a tad bit earlier but a lot of the names such as the kings, their sons and major battles fought at certain locations all ring a bell in regard to the English side. Of course, the multiple kingdoms such as Wessex, Mercia, Winchester, Cumbria along with the invasion of the Danes and Vikings all played in my memories as well.

Sleep! It has always been mine enemy. I detest it as I detest the devil. We are given so little time and yet made to waste part of it senseless and snoring.


Conn Iggulden has been put on my list of authors whom I shall very much revisit in the near future. It looks like he has written a lot of other historical fiction novels and series that looks very much of what I want to read in 2024. With The Abbot’s Tale, if you’re looking for a novel about monastic life with a flare of action, drama and injustice along with learning how England came to be, this is a highly suggested title to give a try.


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