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Historical Novel Society

Review: The Splintered Kingdom by James Aitcheson

The Splintered Kingdom - James Aitcheson

My name is Tancred. And I am your death.

In this action packed novel, the reader is drawn into the world of Tancred a Dinant in the years following the Norman invasion of England. It is easy to believe that after the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror simply marched into England and lived happily ever after. In Splintered Kingdom, author James Aitcheson, exposes the truth about this period.

Tancred is everything a medieval knight is expected to be. He is brave to the point of recklessness, loyal to his lord and king, and ready to welcome a bloody death . . . . but not yet. He is ruthless with his enemies, but willing to stand up for those who are weak. Brash and impetuous, Tancred sometimes creates his own problems, but reader cannot help but cheer for him.

This novel begins with Tancred in relative peace and prosperity earned by his exploits in the invasion of 1066. Four years have passed, and, rather than becoming fat and lazy off his lands, Tancred finds himself marching off to war again. But will he fight the Welsh, English, or Danes? The Normans are hemmed in by enemies, and Tancred wonders if they will be able to hold onto this island they paid so dear a price for.

In the midst of as much battle action and gore as the reader could desire, we are also given a glimpse of the softer side of Tancred. He longs for a family and mourns the woman he lost. His skill in battle is employed to protect his friends as much or more than himself, and he is willing to sacrifice himself if he believes it will save those he loves. When he finds himself betrayed to an enemy, he is brought low and wonders if he will survive.

I could go on and on, but do not wish to give away too much. Aitcheson is a skilled writer who expertly recreates 11th century England and the people who lived, fought, loved, and died there.