Today’s team review is from Noelle.
Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com
Noelle has been reading In The Shadows Of Castles by G. K. Holloway
The novel is book two in the 1066 saga.
Book one, 1066: What the Fates Impose, is about the atmosphere leading up to and following the Battle of Hastings in 1066 between the Norman-French army of William, Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson. It began the Norman Conquest of England.
In the Shadows of Castles, William of Normandy is enforcing a new, brutal, and bloody regime of Norman rule throughout England, creating feudalism as the dominant social and economic system. William spreads his soldiers throughout the kingdom, killing, raping, and pillaging to force the Anglo-Saxons to bend to his rule. His plan includes the construction of castles in all the main cities to secure the Norman foothold, hence the title of this novel, and he creates a ruling class of Norman nobles and arranges the appointment of his supporters as bishops and abbots in the Norman church. But these sudden changes in the English political, religious, and cultural landscape create resistance. Dispossessed, driven from their homes, the members of an English network of resistors have the courage to fight, but scattered across the land, can they coalesce to defeat William? Can they entice the Danes to join them?
This seemingly endless turmoil is populated by many characters, which the author – fortunately for the reader – introduces at the beginning of the book. The main ones are two sisters, a thane (a freeman who had his own land), and a soldier. These characters are likable and real. Intrigues, kidnaps, battles, escapes, murder, destruction, and death face them as the resistance takes shape and their fates intertwine in love, hope, and their fight for survival.
The author has a monumental knowledge of the history, politics, and turmoil of the time. He unflinchingly portrays the brutality of William and his reasoning behind it, as well as the anger and needs for vengeance by those resisting him. Thus this novel is a powerful lesson for its readers. So powerful that I wanted William to fail and wanted justice for all those murdered. But history tells the tale: his plan worked, which allowed him to spend the greater part of his reign at his home in Normandy.
This is an accomplished historical novel, challenging to the reader only in the number of players on the stage. Anyone interested in English history and this historical period in particular, will love this book and should definitely read it. I look forward to his next book.
It’s the 1060s, and William of Normandy is establishing a new and brutal regime in England, but there are those who would defy him. As Norman soldiers spread like a plague across the land, resistance builds, but will it be enough to topple William and restore the rightful king to his throne? The English have the courage to fight, but the Normans, already victorious at Hastings, now build castles seeking to secure their tenuous foothold in these lands.
And what of the people caught up in these catastrophic events? Dispossessed but not defeated, their lives ripped apart, the English struggle for freedom from tyranny; amongst them, caught up in the turmoil, are a soldier, a thane and two sisters. As events unfold, their destinies become intertwined, bringing drastic changes that alter their lives forever.
Firmly embedded in the history of the Conquest, ‘In the Shadows of Castles’ is ultimately a story of love, hope and survival in a time of war.