Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review - 1066: What Fates Impose by G.K. Holloway


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?

Matador Publishing | March 4, 2013 | 440 pages

My Review

G.K. Holloway's debut novel, 1066: What Fates Impose, transports the reader to England just prior to the Norman Conquest in 1066.  At the centre of this novel is Harold Godwinson, son of England's most powerful nobleman and a respected Earl in his own right, who is best known to history as the English monarch beaten by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.  But, as is vividly shown in this novel, there was much more to Harold than his last battle. 

Given that G.K. Holloway's novel is not the first work of historical fiction I've read about Harold Godwinson or the events leading up to the Norman invasion, much of 1066's storyline was already familiar to me.  As I'm interested in time period covered by the book, however, I was curious to read Holloway's interpretation of the historical figures and events synonymous with the era.  The novel's principal protagonist, Harold, is portrayed as an honourable, intelligent, and strong man.  This matches the impressions I'd gleaned of Harold from the other Conquest-era novels I've read.  King Edward (aka Edward the Confessor) on the other hand, comes across as a weak ruler, one who too easily puts his trust in those who seek to use him for their own ends.  Aside from well developed characters, another strength of this novel is the attention it pays to the complex politics of the era, both within England and abroad.  But 1066: What Fates Impose is not only a novel of politics and battles, there is also a well-drawn romantic element to the storyline. 

1066: What Fates Impose is a well-written, engaging, and superbly researched work of historical fiction.  Holloway has added enough historical detail to give readers a real flavour for 11th century England while ensuring that the narrative isn't bogged down in it.  Whether you are new to historical fiction set in England around the time of the Conquest, or are already familiar with the period's people and politics, 1066: What Fates Impose is recommended.   I look forward to reading more from G.K. Holloway. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel as part of G.K. Holloway's virtual book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

1066: What Fates Impose has been touring the blogosphere for the past couple of weeks.  Click here to link to additional reviews. 

About the Author

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 thatnovel.

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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