Sunday, 21 October 2012

Book Review: Steve Bodio's An Eternity of Eagles

A while back I reviewed Stephen Bodio's haunting eulogy to Betsy Huntingdon and pion to New Mexico 'Querencia'. HERE. So I was delighted when a very nice lady wrote to me to say that I was on the review list for Steve's latest work 'An Eternity of Eagles' .

I first came across SB a few years ago when he started to comment on some other blogs, I started to read his blog, and in conversation another blogger (who I had just complemented on his writing) said
"but we all wish we could write like Steve B". As Steve's blog was largely notes to friends and in-jokes I searched for some more of his writing, found this piece about a trip to the Steppes to hunt with Egales and Kazakh tribesmen, and was hooked. Steve's other works have included highly rated studies of fine shotguns, Pigeons and Long Dogs.

The 'An Eternity of Eagles' is quite different to the works I've read so far, it could be thought of as a tour not of some far-flung lands but of a library collected during many many years as a student of Falconry.  It lands pretty squarely between scholarly tome and coffe table book, and is none the worse for doing so. For the casual reader there is a touch more detail than they might be expecting and for the budding Raptor obsessive a tantalising glimpse of where future reading could take you.

“There is so much brute wisdom, sophisticated science, blood magic, and flat out terrific prose in Stephen Bodio’s writing that he makes me think of Merlin, educating Arthur by turning him into other animals for a while. An Eternity of Eagles is worthy of its great subject, which is not only eagles but the earthbound mortals who marvel at them.”
—Jonathan Rosen, author of The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature

I was going to type up a few choice examples from the book; or try to give you a compressed version of the chronology of our ancient relationship with these fascinating birds, the evolution of the practices of training and hunting with them, and their roles as totems in so many disparate cultures. But instead I'll make you this offer. Buy the book, if you've read it and dont like it, I'll buy your copy off you and give it to someone who will appreciate it.

More Soon