England, 1044, Harold Godwinesson, a young, respected Earl, falls in love with an ordinary but beautiful woman. He marries Edyth despite her lack of pedigree, pitting him against his turbulent family and his selfish King, Edward.
In France, William, the bastard son of a duke, falls in love with power. Brutal and dangerously smart, william sets his sights on England, finding ambition a difficult lust to conquer.
With Edward old and dying, England falls vulnerable to the winds of fate - and the stubborn will of these two powerful men.
In this beautifully crafted tale, Helen Hollick sets aside the propaganda of the Norman Conquest and brings to life the English version of the story of the last Saxon King, revealing his tender love, determination, and proud loyalty, all shattered by the unforgiving needs of a Kingdom. Forced to give up his wife and risk his life for england, the chosen King led his army into the great Battle of Hastings in October 1066 with all the honor and dignity that history remembers of its fallen heroes. (Taken from the back of the book)
First, this is not a light read. I'm a quick reader and it still took me several days. Believe me, it's worth it! This book is absolutely epic. This isn't just a book. It's a reading experience.
The characters I found fascinating. Every one is imbued with realistic faults and flaws. Though we find ourselves despising them one moment, the next we find ourselves realizing where their thought process is coming from. Sometimes this even brings us to the point of empathizing with the 'villain'. It seems as though Hollick took years to perfect each character and then bring them together in one story. You really know and care about the characters.
Normally I'm not excited by politics. I'm even less excited by history. Those are character flaws, I'm aware, but I am what I am. That being the case, I was expecting to find myself bombarded with several historical and political passages in the book that I would have to muddle through. To my great delight, this never happened! I think I might have even accidentally learned something!
What I really enjoyed about this book is that it was able to be historically accurate, without having to result to child porn, as another book so recently did. Everything was tastefully portrayed and I appreciate it.
This is a definite must-read for serious readers. It's definitely not a beach read, but it's really worth the time invested. You'll find yourself sucked into a world from the past where everything is different, yet nothing is.
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