“The Battle of the Black Fen” is the culmination of Annis Pratt’s Infinite Games series where the Marshlanders of all communities gather to take back their marshes and way of life to be free from oppression. It is a journey to communicate plans for the battle with the various communities and to gather them together. Two themes were intriguing to me: One, living in tune with the environment with a non-exploitive attitude with the fowl, flora, and fauna; and two, creating a society where all persons are important and all are winners – even the former oppressors. This theme is evidence of an ‘infinite game’ as opposed to a ‘finite game’ where there is a winner and a loser.
I hadn’t read the first 3 books in awhile but was able to follow along with the characters, places, themes with ease. The introduction helped bridge the gap. Dr. Pratt’s knowledge and research into ecology and the Anglian Fens is quite evident in the abundance of plants, food choices, and geography of marshes.
I enjoyed this ecofiction/historical novel, which is a new genre for me. As ecofiction it reflects the reliance of a people who live in close harmony with their surroundings; in this case the marshes of the Anglian Fen. As history, the novel is based on the 17th – 20th century struggle of people oppressed by those interested only in using the land for their profit – and surprisingly current – the environmentalists versus the corporations.
One phrase remains with me: As leaders Margaret and Richard, separate before the battle they agree they are going ‘about the business of the world.’ And so might we.