Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Matador (11 Nov. 2013)
The book is simply designed, with a red cover, and yellow and white writing and a round Saxon shield taking the place of the 0 in 1066.
The Saxon Saga and the legend of King Harold holds a strong place in the hearts of many English. This spirit is very well captured in “1066 What Fates Impose” by G.K. Holloway. In which the epic tale of the Norman conquest is retold through, principally the eyes of its English participants. Harold Earl of Wessex rises to power in England under King Edward the Confessor. The country is in turmoil as Harold’s family struggles to keep hold of its hard fought position in the kingdom, while Edward falls under the influence of cunning Norman expatriates.
Harold strides majestically through the turmoil to become the last Saxon King of England. Confident, capable and intelligent but too quick to trust. Meanwhile in the shadows the sinister form of Duke William, who sallies out from his brooding castles, to ravage his neighbours, while planning conquest, plots his downfall. He increasingly begins to loom closer and closer as the book goes on, until the fateful first confrontation when Harold falls foul to his startling ambition and interestingly a deft deployment of doped mushrooms. The interesting twists and turns that allowed William to be able to start pulling the strings that brought about the conquest are well done.
As Harold is the hero, William inevitably becomes the villain. Here we see a tough and resourceful soldier, an ambitious and cunning politician who hides deep set insecurities within himself, and exhibits its a touch of the sadist in his personality.
For those of you who have never read about the Norman Conquest I won’t give away how the story ends, but the stage has now been set.
Holloway gives a meaty chunk of backstory to lay his foundations, which will be interesting for people as usually it’s only the history books that go back this far in terms of 1066. Perhaps a little more light and shade would have been welcome, but one cannot look at the Saxon perspective without making them the enemy. Historical fiction is after all a way to explore points of view. This therefore is definitely a book for the Saxon fans out there and those who wish to gobble up as many books about a certain subject as possible, for these people this will be a must read. He wastes no time in diving into things with an atmospheric and detailed narrative, which presents Harold as attempting to wrest his destiny back from what Fate it seems has imposed on him.