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The year 1066 is known in English history as the year that England was changed forever. A king died, leaving no heir to the crown. His brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson, was named his successor. And far away in Normandy, another man felt the crown was rightfully his. What followed was a bloody, ruthless fight to hold the title of King of England. The country would never be the same again.
G.K. Holloway’s novel, 1066: What Fates Impose, is a piece of historical fiction, depicting true events of the eleventh century which would prove to have a major impact on England’s history and culture. When King Edward, known as Edward the Confessor, failed to produce an heir, no one knew what would become of the crown. Rumors spread that he may have promised it to a distant cousin in Normandy. But since his wife’s family, the Godwinsons, had become extremely influential, it seemed fitting, when Edward died, that her brother Harold would be named the new king. Popular with many, Harold may have made a great king. But his place would be short-lived. Back in Normandy, that distant cousin, who would come to be known as William the Conqueror, remembered the long ago rumored promise. Despite the odds, he would bring the Normans against the mighty forces of the English military.
Were the fates against Harold? The Normans had no navy, had to beg neighboring kingdoms to borrow soldiers, were on unfamiliar terrain, and didn’t speak the language. They spread bloodshed and brutality all across the country before the final battle that would determine not only the new King of England, but also the future of the country.
1066: What Fates Impose is a dense novel, packed with history as well as politics and romance. Along with that comes a huge cast of characters, and keeping up with them was a daunting task. Fortunately the beginning of the book includes a list of many of the important players, which I consulted frequently as I read. This helped tremendously. What could have been a dry history lesson was brought alive in this book, with rich character development and painstaking detail. Harold becomes the hero, and William the evil villain. Whether this is the way things truly were will never really be known, but as a reader I was definitely rooting for Harold. He seems to have been born to rule England. The story is heartbreaking and riveting. When I finished reading the book, I found myself researching English history, searching for real life details of this time period and the two men who battled for the crown. Being left hungry for more is a sign of a very satisfying read. I would recommend this book to history buffs, fans of works such as those written by Philippa Gregory, and readers who enjoy war stories.
Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.
Review copy was provided by G.K. Holloway. Compensation was received but in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review.