Publisher: Matador | Publication date: 4th March 2013 | Edition: Kindle (Review Copy)
Bloody battles, family feuds, and a scramble to sit at the high table (like a lethal game of musical chairs), the 11th Century had its fair share of traumatic incidences, the Battle of Hastings being the one we’re all familiar with.
I’m ashamed to say that my knowledge of this event is fairly limited, but we all know the basics: King Harold of England vs Duke William of Normandy, arrow to the eye, and the rest, as they say, is history. Or is it?
After reading this book I must admit that I feel more enlightened as to the events occurring during this period, it’s clear that it’s been very well researched. Fact and fiction are woven seamlessly together, which allows this story to harness the more ‘human’ (and often inhumane) side to all parties involved.
The prologue shows us a snapshot of the demise of William the Conqueror, lying on his death bed in 1087 in Rouen, Normandy. In the throes of death, he is haunted by demons from his past and he refuses to name a successor to the throne of England, leaving it for ‘God to decide’. The story ends at the beginning of his reign, when the famous battle has been won.
Between this timeline lies a strained history leading up to that fateful day in 1066, I found myself witnessing fictional snippets of conversations surrounding children, loves, woes, and treachery. Subsequently, the pecking order of potential successors changed frequently.
For me, the author has carefully pitched each person and successfully brought their individual history to life. Of course, no one will ever really know what was said in casual conversation, but listening in was intriguing – who may have had a dry sense of humour, who could have been the most courageous or downright cruel, and how they attempted to justify their decisions in the eyes of God.
It appears that a Kingdom would balance its successes and losses in this period of history as a result of a higher power ‘determining it’; when a comet is sighted by opposing sides, with just the a stretch of water between them, both wonder if it’s an omen sent for them personally, and how the rivals interpret these ‘signs’ is very interesting indeed.
There’s A LOT of people mentioned, some on the periphery, some with a similar name in the same family, which did throw me at times! But the author has kindly included a helpful ‘list of main characters’ in the intro, featuring real family trees.
Although the majority of the ‘action’ occurs in the latter third of the book, some quite graphic, anyone with even the remotest interest in history / historical fiction will find this absolutely fascinating. I know I did, and I’m so glad I bumped this up my TBR pile. Nicely done.
(Many thanks to the Author, G K Holloway, for providing a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review. )
1066 What Fates Impose, won the Gold Medal in the 2014 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards – Adult Fiction.
G K Holloway left university in 1980 with a degree in history and politics. After spending a year in Canada, he relocated to England’s West Country and began working in Secondary Education. Later he worked in Adult Education and then Further Education before finally working in Higher Education.
After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he became fascinated by the fall of Anglo Saxon England and spent several years researching events leading up to and beyond the Battle of Hastings. Eventually he decided he had enough material to make an engrossing novel. Using characters from the Bayeux Tapestry, the Norse Sagas, the Domesday Book and many other sources. He feels that he has brought the period and its characters to life in his own particular way. Following the major protagonists, as well as political, religious and personal themes, the downfall of Anglo-Saxon England is portrayed by a strong cast.
Nowadays he lives in Bristol with his wife and two children. When he’s not writing he works with his wife in their company.
1066 is his debut novel was originally published as an ebook. It has received very positive reviews and this has encouraged him to publish it in paperback. Currently he is working on a sequel. One day he hopes to write full time.
Visit G K Holloway’s website: www.gkholloway.co.uk
Facebook: Glynn Holloway