Publication Date: March 4, 2013
Synopsis from the book jacket:
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 who 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?
So what did I think about the story?:
While I had previously heard of William the Conqueror I did not realize the drastic actions that led to him becoming King of England before reading 1066: What Fates Impose. Who was this man who sailed from Normandy and took the crown of England for himself? What was England like before him? These questions and so many more were answered in this completely captivating novel that brought Medieval Europe to life in a way that few novels I've read have been able to do.
I absolutely loved the formatting of the novel, beginning in 1087 with King William stating on his death bed that he will declare no heir to the English throne since he did not earn it by hereditary right but took it from King Harold. This William is haunted by his heinous deeds and only hopes for some peace now that his life is ending, something that after finishing the novel I doubted he would find. The story then jumps back to King Edward on the throne in 1045 and the fate of English history begins to unfold for the reader in clear, brutal prose that ends with William defeating King Harold. While this eventuality is clear from the beginning, the connections to various characters developed throughout the story made the ending simply heartbreaking for me. You know a story is powerful when you keep hoping beyond hope that history will change itself and see your favorites rise triumphant!
This novel is absolutely saturated with historical facts and figures and it is quite easy to see that a huge amount of research went into the writing of it. When many fact driven novels seem to lack character development I was pleasantly surprised to see that 1066 was able to masterfully combine the facts with a story that humanizes these people from history so the reader is on the journey with them, feeling their joy, triumph and pain. For someone like me who loves English history but wasn't overly familiar with these particular conflicts or people, I was able to create a full bodied image - for better or worse - of each person and situation and I am now determined to read more and more about them all.
My favorite aspect of 1066, however, was the unbelievably vivid depictions of conquest, war and medieval justice that occurred during this time. While I was already aware that this was a brutal time I did not realize just how brutal it was. G.K. Holloway places the reader right in the heart of the action and doesn't let them look away. Some of it could be hard to stomach, especially a bloody scene that takes place at the mill of a town that William's men destroy, but this really helped immerse me in the time period. And the battle scenes...let me just say that the last 100 pages or so do not let up and I could not keep myself from turning the pages.
With William the Conqueror becoming the first Norman king of England the Anglo-Saxon period of English history came to a close and the political and social future of England would be forever changed. While Harold would be the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings and would reign for less than a year, 1066: What Fates Impose brought his story to life and, in doing so, expertly showcased the ever shifting world he lived in. I am now completely enamored with this period in English history and I have G.K. Holloway to thank for that.
So what did I think about the cover?:
It's okay. While the style and feel fits the story it is a little minimalistic for my tastes. I would have loved to see a battle scene or depiction of Harold and William facing off.
My rating: 4.5/5.0
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About the Author
I have been interested in history since I was a boy, which I suppose explains why, when I came across a degree course in History and Politics at Coventry University that looked tailor made for me, I applied right away.
In my first year at Coventry I lived in the halls of residence within a stone’s throw of the Leofric Hotel. In the opposite direction, just a short walk from my halls, is the bell tower that houses a clock, which when its bell chimes the hour, produces a half size model of naked Lady Godiva riding a horse for the titillation of tourists. Above her, Peeping Tom leans out of a window for a better view. In all of the three years I was there, it never once occurred to me that I would one day write a book featuring Earl Leofric and his famous wife, as key players.
After graduating I spent a year in Canada before I returned to England to train as a Careers Officer in Bristol. Later, I lived and worked in Gloucestershire as a Careers Officer and then in Adult Education as an Education Guidance worker.
After I met my wife, I moved back to Bristol to live and I worked at Bath Spa University as a Student Welfare Officer for a number of years. It was about this time I read a biography about King Harold II which fascinated me so much I read more and more about the man and the times. I found the whole pre-conquest period of England so interesting I couldn’t understand why no one had written a novel about it. So, I decided to write one myself. Now, after many years of study and time spent over a hot keyboard, I have finally produced that novel.
1066: What Fates Impose is the result of all that study and hard work and is the first book I’ve written. I am now working on a sequel.