Friday, May 20, 2011

Conquest - Book Review

Conquest by Stuart Binns

It's 1066 - Senlac Ridge, England. William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, defeats Harold Godwinson, King Harold II of England, in what will become known as the Battle of Hastings. The battle is hard fought and bloody, the lives of thousands have been spent, including that of King Harold. But England will not be conquered easily, the Anglo-Saxons will not submit meekly to Norman rule. Although his heroic deeds will nearly be lost to legend, one man unites the resistance. His name is Hereward of Bourne, the champion of the English. His honour, bravery and skill at arms will change the future of England. His is the legacy of the noble outlaw. This is his story.

For me something of a surprise as this is the first book by the author and he has certainly used his knowledge of history well. I remember being taught some of this at school, probably due to growing up in the areas visited by many of the events in the book but other than that possibility I do remember Hereward the Wake though I don't know why.

This is the story of the years before and after Senlac Bridge (aka the Battle of Hastings) as told by Hereward the Wake. The detail is fascinating and adds to the tale very constructively. The politics of the period make for fascinating reading mixed up in this factional story and bring forward a more complete explanation of why William crossed the channel to claim England. This William the Bastard is not a pleasant individual by any stretch of the imagination whose personal style of leadership leaves many uncomfortable and Edward is not cognisant of the potential problems of promising the English crown to William.

So we find all this out through the eyes of Hereward of Bourne, as he then was, after being made outlaw by Edward for an act of cold revenge at Ely. Hereward is fortunate to fall in with an excommunicated priest who is also a seer of some ability who further educates Hereward who also takes Torfida the daughter into marriage. After Hereward proves himself with a Welsh king he becomes a leading part of William's army in Normandy where he discovers what William is like and about the promise by Edward. William and Hereward learn tactics from each other after which Hereward moves back to England after Harold guarantees the removal of his outlaw status. The time with Harold is really interesting since it covers the period up to Harold's defeat in detail, explaining how the army was called up and it's maintenance whilst in being.

Apart from being a very good story there is sufficient historical information to encourage many to look further to learn more about this period and more than makes up for some of the more elaborate and possibly over exaggerated sections of the book.

For the Reader it’s a good read with each chapter well paced and a nice length, from the writers point of view I think this will be a hard story to follow on for a first book but I hope the author succeeds since I certainly want more. For me a good solid four stars for this one.

Available from: or
Conquest by Stuart Binns
Paperback • ISBN 9780718156770

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