Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review - Hereward (JS)

Hereward by James Wilde
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I will admit that this book has been sitting waiting to be read for quite a while. Every time I went to pick it up, I got distracted and down the reading list, it would go. There was no particular reason, there just always seemed to be a book that I wanted to read more. Lately though I have started to make a impact on my books and decided that I would finally read this one.
The Blurb:
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 the king'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 slaughter 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 outlaw. To stay alive - and a freeman - he must carve a bloody swathe from the frozen hills of Northumbria to Flanders' fields and the fenlands of East Anglia. The tale of a man whose deeds will become the stuff of legend, this is also the story of two mismatched allies: Hereward the man of war, and Alric, a man of peace, a monk. One will risk everything to save the land he loves, the other to save his friend's soul...

I will admit that my knowledge of history of this time used to be quite sketchy though having studied both O and A level history, our class was given the industrial revolution to study. This though interesting and obviously vital, does not really have the same impact of men fighting for the English throne. However, thanks to books thrown at me by an older brother and sister, my knowledge was expanded.  
From the very start, this is a bloody book, so it is not for the faint hearted. However, the violence is not gratuitous at all, it fits in with the time and the peoples involved. As in those days if you wanted to show that you were peeved at someone you would show up with a knife or axe in hand to show your displeasure.

Hereward is a strong character; obviously, he is the hero so he should be. However, he is well written, you understand his actions as his past is described well so the reader is sympathetic towards him. The change in him as the book goes on is well portrayed and shows his growing maturity after his forced expulsion from England by claims for murder. 
He makes friends, there is good description of the battle fair that he takes part in and falls in love. The monk Alric is a bit whiney especially at the start of the book, but that is part of his charm, trying to keep a character such as Hereward on the straight and narrow would be hard for anyone. I liked Acha the servant who catches Hereward eye and Vadir who tried to teach him the bow and arrow.

There are twists and turns in the story line with the reader wondering who actually killed the woman that Hereward loved, and would his adopted brother Redwald take revenge for him.  
There are some obvious nasty characters with Harald Redteeth who keeps cropping up when he is least wanted and Harold Godwinson who wants the throne, is willing, and does do anything to get it, and some sneaky ones, but I wont mention who it don’t want to spoil it for you.
This is a good fun read which I recommend and I am now looking forward to reading the next in the series.
9 OUT OF 10