Superb. Nothing less.
Hereward gripped me and held me at sword-point from page one.
(That was my attempt at writing something they might want to use on a future Hereward book jacket).
I can’t remember being so impressed by a historical novel for a long, long time. It really is that good.
Set in an interesting and – for me, at least – under discovered period; the years just before and just after the Norman invasion of 1066. We’re in the death-throws of the Viking period, the old, ‘real’ England is struggling to come through and (re-) establish itself and (in this novel) the Normans are a dark and brooding presence who everyone knows are just waiting to strike.
Hereward is caught up in the maelstrom of Viking mercenaries, shifting alliances, half-truths and general jostling for position at what passes for the English Court. After being in the wrong place at the wrong time and hearing something he definitely shouldn’t, is forced to flee north where he might find some safety and sanctuary. From there, he goes on to meet old adversaries, confront old ghosts, make new enemies and make progress towards finding out about his past. He returns to The Fens and begins to form and lead the English resistance to the Normans’ seemingly un-stoppable dominance.
This has everything you could want in a historical novel; fighting, tension, fighting, suspense, fighting, love, fighting, intrigue – and fighting. I’ve seen that there is a number two ready for me to get to grips with, and I will be doing so as soon as possible.
Oh, and he’s man of Mercia, like me.