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1066: What Fates Impose Paperback – January 2, 2014
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"An engrossing read... Aâ very enjoyable book" -- Cheryl M-M's Book Blog "Packed with historical detail - you really get a sense of the time period and setting" -- LibraryThing "This book is well researched and shows a passion for this period of time... Aâ really really good read" -- Goodreads
About the Author
G.K. Holloway has always been interested in history, politics and literature. A biography on King Harold II inspired him to write a novel based on the events of the time. Now he's done it, he is proud of his achievement - especially as he is dyslexic.
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I always appreciate an author having done appropriate research in general, and in particular the ensuing historical accuracy that this brings to historical fiction. In the case of this book, the period is one with which I’m not much more well-versed than the average person educated in England, so I can’t speak categorically for its accuracy. What I can say is that I’m not aware of any gross historical misrepresentations or anachronisms (aside from the language, of course, but not many would want to read this book were it written in Old English, Norse where not overlapping, Old French, Medieval Latin, Welsh, Gaelic, Breton, and so forth).
Granted, there is a lot of room for artistic licence, since there is much that is not known for sure about this period that was, after all, not long out of the Dark Ages. So there’s a lot where assertions or representations are unassailable with complaints of “that was not so”, because we’re not even sure how Harold died, much less how he lived, in many facets at least.
Regards characterization, I found this book to have a rich cast of characters, each with their quirks and mostly without being too simplistic. If I would give a criticism, it would definitely be those few characters who fell short, though, such as Duke William, who seemed unlikely to be able to win a game of conkers, let alone do any conquering; he could barely master his own court, much less wage an overseas war against a superior foe, and Earl Tostig, whose surly petulance made him quickly tiresome.
Thematically, a lot of the plot of this book was well-represented in its title, “What Fates Impose”. While initially seeming a nod to the fact that while the book opens with what is in effect an epilogue, with William on his own deathbed long after these events, reminding us that in essence this is a story where we all know how it will end, the idea crops up frequently throughout the book in various forms — how powerful people can be themselves powerless, acting in the only way that they can see the situation allows them; kings and pretenders alike being as much prisoner to the customs and expectations of those around them as the lowliest serf.
That said, there’s still plenty of room for power-mongering, even if in this story it’s not one where the schemers get what they want, as a rule, it makes for a great tale in the telling.
A reader sympathetic towards or admiring of Duke William may not care for the picture of the brutal, violent man which emerges here. It suits me just fine. Ever since reading Random House's Landmark History, WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR by Thomas B. Costain as a child, my sympathy has been with King Harold and the Saxons. Logic is not on the side of arguments that King Edward promised the English throne to William and that Harold swore a free and willing oath to support him. This novel postulates an interesting, maybe unique, explanation for Harold's actions.
Unfortunately, a historical novel can not honestly change the outcome of the story. William wins and a brutal, near genocidal, Norman regime begins. However, I was able to recover somewhat by immediately reading 1066 TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, a book of short alternate history pieces by several different authors including Mr. Holloway. I recommend both books. One exploring what was. The other, what could have been. The what ifs of history are always part of the story.
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