4 out of 4 stars
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1066 What Fates Impose by G K Holloway is a historical fiction story that highlights a particular disturbing time in the history of England which culminated with the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
In a rather unusual move, the author starts the book with the end where we witness William the Conqueror’s last few moments. We also get a few glimpses into his mind and his many regrets about some important decisions he took in his life. Next, the story moves to some four years before 1066, when Edward the Confessor was king and Harold was just starting his political journey that would end (as all historical books point out) with his death during the Battle of Hastings.
People who have taken English history classes in school are familiar with the main events in the book. Still, the author gave an interesting fictionalized account of the main protagonists’ lives during those four years, which made for an engaging read.
The author keeps to the historical records quite closely, while adding his own flair when it comes to the day-to-day activities of kings and everyone else who impacted history in any way. We’ve learned in school that Edward had no children, so he had no heirs to succeed him as king. The historical details of Edward and Edith’s marriage are quite sketchy, so I enjoyed reading the re-imagined story of their life together and their worry about an heir.
As for the Battle of Hastings, I knew how it ended, and I also knew about Harold’s error in judgment, which ultimately cost him not only the throne but also his life. Nevertheless, I read the book with trepidation, eagerly awaiting the author’s take on the events. I have to hand it to Mr. Holloway; he even weaved the Halley’s Comet into the story. Based on historical accounts, in the year 1066 the comet had its most famous appearance on Earth. Due to the comet being believed to be an omen, many important decisions were taken that year that would change England’s fate forever.
Although this book, at some 700 pages, is quite long, it is a wonderful tale about a part of European history that shaped England and the whole of Europe to become what it is today. It is not an action-packed story. There is a lot of court drama, intrigue and scheming, and the whole book works its way up to the fateful Hastings. This is where the action really is. This is not to say that the book was boring. If you like historical novels, this will grab you and won’t let you go until the last page.
For a debut novel by an indie author, the writing was well-crafted and solid. The writer used easy words that were effortless to read and comprehend. The story was fluid, and the book made for a smooth read. Apart from a handful or two of grammatical and punctuation errors, there is not a lot I can criticize about its presentation.
Each character was well fleshed-out, and the tale went deep into their lives while never forgetting that the story is based on real facts. The book often read more like historical non-fiction than a fictionalized account; it all seemed so real.
Having said that, I did find a small flaw in the book: too many of the pages were full of political intrigue. At some point, it became overwhelming. However, it is very easy to see how the author did his extensive research for writing it. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of every single event in the story, but at least the main points that I already knew from before were well retold.
Overall, I enjoyed 1066 What Fates Impose and, despite its small flaws, I give it a well-deserved rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I can recommend it to every history buff and all readers who enjoy fictionalized historical accounts. Do note, however, that there are a couple of vividly described scenes including acts of torture, rape, and murder. I found one of them, involving a poker and some tar, so disturbing that I had to stop reading for a bit to banish those images from my mind. If you don’t mind some explicit moments like these, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book.
1066 What Fates Impose
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