The medieval ages were tumultuous times in Europe and England. The entire area always seemed involved in one uproar after the other. But during the year of 1066, when England’s King Edward (the Confessor) was dying with no heir, and Harold I was going to ascend the throne, William the Conqueror of Normandy decided that since he wasn’t going to be given the throne he was promised, he was going to invade England. 1066 became that year of battles as he fought Harold for the throne, ultimately killing Harold I (he took the famous arrow in the eye), and becoming the first Norman King of England.
1066: What Fates Impose, by G.K. Holloway, is a historical fiction narrative that gives a more detailed glimpse of the history of this turning point in history from the viewpoint Harold I. He doesn’t seem to align quite as much with William the Conqueror (which I must, since my direct maternal ancestral line includes a man given a baron title during this time period for assisting William in his successes–of course, it doesn’t mean William wasn’t really an oaf).
I found the book to be well-researched and that it gave a fresh look and more detail on a time period in British history much taught in the UK, but maybe not as well understood here in America. Either way, it gives a broader glimpse into Harold’s side of the fight for the throne, as well as a better understanding of the family. The characters have excellent dialogue and there are lots of visual and visceral battle scenes (not for those who don’t like brutality) that create suspense and angst for the reader. We understand the physical as well as mental struggles for the Crown and what that time period in history means for Britain even today.
There aren’t flowers, romance, or fluff. Holloway loves history, and it shows, and he wants to teach us a new side of the altercations of the time. He does so successfully and in the reading the book I came away quite educated. If the historical accuracy is verified enough for some, this would make a great book for those pursuing history degrees. It’s an enjoyable read for true history aficionados of the time period but also intelligent and educational.
Though with the educational angle, I’ll say it does offer explanations that fate has a hand in most things, and asks questions that readers can ponder, such as Harold’s destiny. It let’s readers think about the point of view of this time period from someone other than William the Conqueror. I am not sure that Harold should be considered more courageous and better than William (and that William won due to his increased military experience), but it’s great to take a look at both men. I believe that even William did honor Harold’s body and erect a proper burial site for him (which has probably allowed him to rest in peace quite a bit more than William, whose body has been dug up quite a few times and is mostly missing). It’s a great ode to a man, Harold I, who fought for what he believed in.
I would highly recommend this book for those who love British medieval and monarchy history, military history, and straightforward historical narrative and/or reenactments. I look forward to reading the sequel.
Publication Date: March 4, 2013
King William then utters the following words to the room: ‘I appoint no one as my heir to the Crown of England, but leave it to the disposal of the Eternal Creator, whose I am and who orders all things. For I did not attain that high honour by hereditary right, but wrested it from the perjured King Harold in a desperate bloody battle.’
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 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?
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Author G.K. Holloway, Biography~
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.
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