A rousing historical novel that rescues one of England’s forgotten heroes from the mists of early medieval history and brings him to brutal and bloody life in 1062, a time many fear is the End of Days. With the English King Edward heirless and ailing, across the grey seas in Normandy the brutal William the Bastard waits for the moment when he can drown England in a tide of blood. The ravens of war are gathering. But as King Edward’s closest advisors scheme and squabble amongst themselves, hopes of resisting the naked ambition of the Norman duke come to rest with just one man: Hereward.
To some a ruthless warrior and master tactician, to others a devil in human form, Hereward is as adept in the art of warfare as the foes that gather to claim England’s throne. But in his country’s hour of greatest need, his enemies at court have made him an outlaw. To stay alive - and a free man - he must carve a violent swathe from the frozen lands outside the capital.
The tale of a man whose deeds will become the stuff of legend, this is also the story of two mismatched allies: Hereward, the dark angel of war; and Alric, a man of peace, a monk. One man will risk everything to save the land he loves, the other will strive to save his friend’s soul.
©2013 James Wilde (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
This book seemed to be a formulaic "buddy-road movie," with two opposites forced together by circumstances. The plot is credible, but the dialog is sometimes as contrived as a reality TV show. Things that Cornwell or Kristian would have developed through internal dialog or action were explained through forced (and unrealistically long) conversation. Apologies to the author, but it felt like he was given the plot points by his agent and filled them in dutifully.
The author seems to have forgotten that Saxons and Danes did not speak the same language. This makes fluid dialog difficult, but other writers have managed it. Also, the protagonist enters the story as a fully-formed hero-on-a-quest, already the best swordsman in the country, blah, blah. Another chosen one, rather than a believable human. The sidekick is a whining stereotype of the dogmatic "silly Christian" and adds little except to give the hero an opportunity to explain everything.
Simon Vance's masterful talents are squandered on this book. His handling of the protagonist's voice is just a booming stereotype, and the sidekick is a whinging wimp, but I felt that this was more the material than the delivery.
The period in which it is set is fascinating, but several authors are tackling it at the same time.
I wanted to like it, but was unable to.
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