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CarpeLibrum

Carpe Librum

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Historical Novel Society

Review: 1066 What Fates Impose by GK Holloway

1066: What Fates Impose - G.K. Holloway

This was a solid 4-star novel by indie author Glynn Holloway. I had this book moving up my TBR when I was surprised by a request from the author for a review, and I am happy to offer my honest opinion in return for my copy of his book.

 

Comprehensive historical research is evident on each page of this work, with the complicated circumstances leading up to William the Bastard's unlikely success described in detail. 1066 is widely known as the year that changed England forever, but few understand the variety of elements that had to come together in order for events to unfold the way that they did. Holloway describes these events: Edward's death, Tostig's exile, William's all-or-nothing attack, and a laundry list of unfortunate timing and circumstances with great skill.

 

Even those who are familiar with the factors that led to the death of England's last Anglo-Saxon king will appreciate the way this author ties together the historical facts and personalities that made it happen. Now known as William the Conqueror, it is not commonly known just how much of an underdog the Duke of Normandy was when he headed into battle. In Holloway's characterization, he seems to be victorious through the sheer force of his iron will.

 

The complex family ties and feuds that plagued England, leaving Harold Godwinson vulnerable, are also unwound and explained to the reader. One learns as much as reading nonfiction while also being thoroughly entertained by the author's storytelling.

 

The only element missing to make this a 5-star read was the character development that would lead to an emotional attachment to Harold and his closest followers. Especially when interacting with one of his wives, I found Harold's dialog somewhat unrealistic. While Duke William frequently came across as an arrogant, petulant child. Secondary characters were not developed to the extent that they were easy to keep track of, rather I would have to remind myself who they were when they entered a scene. Being familiar with the historical figures involved, this wasn't so much a problem, but it kept me from becoming emotionally invested in the story.

 

Overall, a very satisfying read that is more historical than fiction. The battle of Hastings is described in great detail without becoming overwhelming. Each of the strategies - and just plain luck - that benefited Duke William are cleverly explained, so that the reader feels greater sympathy for King Harold with each strike against him that was completely out of his control.