Sunday 21 August 2016

1066: What Fates Impose - G.K. Holloway

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland. 

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

What did I think?

Although it was never one of my favourite subjects at school, I've always had a keen interest in history.  I love reading and learning about the kings and queens of England but unfortunately the history syllabus at school was more concerned with the industrial revolution.  I've mainly read about post-Plantagenet kings and queens so an Anglo Saxon novel was something new for me.

We've all heard of the Battle of Hastings and I'm sure that many people will know this was in 1066.  Equally, we have all heard of King Harold and the arrow in his eye.  So I was really surprised, when reading this book, how little I actually knew about the Battle of Hastings and the events leading up to it.  It can get confusing at times as to who is who, but the author has very kindly listed all of the main characters at the beginning of the book.  This was an invaluable reference and I found that I frequently turned to it, mainly due to the Norse sounding names of this period.

The story begins in 1045 in the court of Edward the Confessor.  Edward is married to Edith of Wessex, but when they fail to produce an heir, due to Edward's famous piety, Edward names Edith's brother Harold as his successor.  This doesn't go down well with Edward's cousin's son, William (the Conqueror), and others who believe they have a claim to the English throne.  The story obviously ends in 1066 where the Battle of Hastings is laid out in such glorious detail that I almost felt as if I was watching the battle myself.  The strategies employed by each side and the sheer scale of the bloodiness gave us a 360 degree view of this famous battle.

The book feels so very well researched that I had no reason to doubt any of the facts therein.  Of course, records dating from this time are sketchy but with so much historical treachery and political intrigue surrounding the English throne I have no doubt that 1066: What Fates Impose is more fact than fiction.  

If you think King Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye, think the Battle of Stamford Bridge is a derby between Chelsea and Spurs, and think William the Conqueror was the only threat to King Harold's crown then you must read this book.  G. K. Holloway brings Anglo Saxon history to life in 1066: What Fates Impose and my knowledge of this period is now so much richer for having read it.  A tremendous 5 star read.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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