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I Am the Chosen King [Paperback]

Helen Hollick
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (1 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140224066X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402240669
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 600,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hello, welcome to my Amazon Author Page.

I am Helen Hollick, I live in Devon, England, with my husband Ron and adult daughter Kathy and her husband, Adam.

I write historical fiction, getting to the nuts and bolts of the 'what might have really happened' story of King Arthur in my PENDRAGON'S BANNER Trilogy. There is no magic or fantasy. No Merlin, no Lancelot, knights in armour, round table or holy grail - just the story of a war lord who has to fight hard for his kingdom and even harder to keep it.

'Helen Hollick has it all! She tells a great story, gets her history right and writes consistently readable books!' (Bernard Cornwell)

My Lost Kingdom Saxon Series - HAROLD THE KING (I AM THE CHOSEN KING is the US title of the same book) and its prequel,A HOLLOW CROWN (The FOREVER QUEEN is the US title of the same book) tells the story of the twilight years of Anglo Saxon England immediately before the Norman Conquest.
Stripping the Norman propaganda from what we think we know of that most famous date in English history - 1066 and the Battle of Hastings, my novels portray all the honour and dignity that history remembers of its fallen heroes.

I am also co-scriptwriter for the UK movie 1066 which is in development.

To balance the serious books I have my SEA WITCH VOYAGES: pirate-based adventure fantasy. A fine blend of Sharpe, Hornblower and Indiana Jones all stowed in the one boat.
Voyage One - SEA WITCH
Voyage Two - PIRATE CODE
Voyage Three - BRING IT CLOSE
Voyage Four - Ripples In The Sand

"In the sexiest pirate contest, Captain Jesamiah Acorne gives Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow a run for his money" (Sharon Penman)

Charismatic and a charmer of a rogue, trouble follows Jesamiah Acorne like a ship's wake. His "girl" Tiola, is a white witch, one of the Wise Women of the Old Ones of Light. She is loyal and faithful to Jesamiah - but does he deserve her?

If you liked the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and enjoy a good sailor's yarn, then in the words of author Elizabeth Chadwick "You'll love this to pieces of eight".

And coming soon: Jesamiah Acorne's early adentures as a young pirate: The Mermaid Voyages

Browse my books and 'Lege Feliciter' (read happily)
p.s. Why not take a look at the book trailer videos opposite?

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the US Title for Harold The King 2 Mar 2011
By Misfit TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book can be found in the UK as Harold the King. Just so's you know that, although I do understand this edition has gone through some editing and lost a few pages and given a new title by the US publisher (why do they do that?).

Long before the Tudors we've become so tired of and before the Plantagenets we are never tired of (at least not me), came Harold Godwinesson...the last English King.

I am the Chosen King begins in 1043 and continues the story of Saxon England started in The Forever Queen. Edward (or Edward the Confessor as he came to be known after his death) rules England along with his aging mother the scheming Dowager Queen Emma. Earl Godwine is the second most powerful man in England, and that power is well spread among his large brood of sons, including Harold. A powerful Earl in his own right, Harold knows he must eventually enter into a Christian marriage with a woman of higher birth, but in the meantime falls in love and handfasts with Edyth Swannhaels, a woman he can never marry. Harold's story is intertwined with that of Duke William of Normandy (who believes he has a rightful claim to the throne through Queen Emma) as fate, treachery and a weak king with no heir sends England spinning out of control and ripe for picking at the hands of the Norman aggressors. Only one man can rule England, which one will be the victor at the Battle of Hastings?

There's actually a whole lot more to it than that, but you'll just have to read it for yourself to find out. While most of us know of the 1066 Conquest and what follows afterward, there aren't many novels on the events prior to it, and I very much liked having an an "inside" look.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  39 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Great Read!! 20 Feb 2011
By MusingCrow - Published on
I find Helen Hollick's writing to be magical. As a confirmed lover of all things European ,and of the 15th and 16th centuries, I didn't think that I would have much interest in the earlier history of Britain, let alone 11th century Saxon Britain------ that is until I read "The Forever Queen".
"I Am The Chosen King" begins in England in 1044 and follows the time line and lineage put forth in "The Forever Queen". The first chapter begins as Queen Emma "The Forever Queen" still powerful at 54 years of age, watches as her firstborn, recently returned from exiled, son, Edward, is crowned King of England. Emma doesn't believe that the rather too delicate Edward (known as the Confessor) is fit to be King. She believes that he is as "as shallow and incompetent as his father, Athelred (Emma's first husband) had been.." . In this chapter we are also introduced to a young Earl, Harold Godwineson....thus begins the story of King Harold - the chosen King; the last Saxon King of England.

In this wickedly good read, Helen Hollick brings to life the Battle of Hastings from the English point of view "....and brings to life ... the story of the last Saxon King, revealing his ... love, determination and proud loyalty...shattered by the unforgiving needs of a Kingdom. Forced to give up his wife and risk his life for England, the chosen king led his army into the great Battle of Hastings in October 1066 with all the honor and dignity that history remembers of its fallen heroes...." . This last sentence is from the endpapers on the book and, I think, spells out the theme of the book better than I could paraphrase it!
Much of the action in this book is centered around battle preparations for the Norman invasion and the Battle of Hastings in October 1066. Harold, who became King after the death of Edward in January 1066, is married a beautiful commoner named Edyth. Because this is not a politically advantageous marriage he becomes pitted against his powerful family. In France, a bastard duke's son, William of Normandy, has become besotted with power and has set his sight on conquering England
This book is historically based and I think that Helen Hollick can well be called an expert on this time period. It has totally opened my eyes to this pivotal period in history when the shaping of England was, truly, in the balance. This is also a book that weaves history with romance and warfare in nearly equal measure. It's a book's that I simply have to re-read. That's how much I like it. It is, perhaps, not as much of a romance as "The Forever Queen" but, then again, the times surrounding the Battle of Hastings (fought at Senlac Hill near Hastings, East Sussex, England) were difficult and romances would have been, I think, been forced to a back burner as preparations for war were made.
I am now a confirmed fan of Saxon England! I am grateful to Ms. Hollick for bringing this fascinating period of history to lovers of great historical fiction. I will eagerly await more from this gifted writer. This book will, I think, appeal widely to fans of historical fiction, romance and, more to the point, those interested in the history behind the historic Battle of Hastings. There is much to be enjoyed in this book - and much history to read about on the side!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Historical Fiction 3 Mar 2011
By MJacobsen - Published on
If you've ever tried to sort out the infamous Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD, in which William the Conquerer invaded England and changed the course of history forever, you'll know how convoluted this time period is. Thankfully, Helen Hollick wrote a masterful two-book series about the time and players that makes sense of it all.

This is the second book of the pair and it picks up where the first, The Forever Queen, leaves off. Edward the Confessor is the king of England and the powerful Godwin family rules the majority of the various Earldoms, making them more influential than royalty. But when Edward dies without an heir, it is Harold Godwin who steps in to fill the void. Of course, we all know what happens in 1066, but Hollick develops such intense characters that the reader finds themselves wanting to change history and stave off the inevitable!

Hollick is renowned for her historical accuracy....she doesn't skip actual historic events or change timelines just to suit her fictional novel. This is as close to history books as you can get, with a fabulous author's note at the end to tell you exactly what she surmised and what is fact.

Reading both of these books gives the reader a fairly good working knowledge of the Norman invasion of England and what led up to that point, all encased in a riveting story.

Highly, highly recommended!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Only The Battle of Hastings Had Been Different! 29 Mar 2011
By H. Rieseck - Published on
Helen Hollick's I Am the Chosen King had a big role to fill in my reading life - this was my first book that revolves around the Norman Conquest of England - and it more than fulfilled my expectations. Most books that broach this subject approach it from the Norman perspective, however Hollick shakes it up by primarily covering the Saxon portion (with some Norman mixed in). As history is primarily written by the victors (and then repeated by subsequent writers) the Saxons and King Harold have had to fight to be heard - Hollick brings them right to the front and center!

I was excited to be immediately engulfed in the stories of some of my favorite characters from The Forever Queen upon cracking the spine of this novel. Queen Emma is back as is Earl Godwin and his wife Gytha. These familiar characters helped to introduce me to the newer main characters of this novel - mostly Harold Godwinson and his hand-fast wife, Edyth. I quickly found myself loving Harold and really all of the crazy Godwin family - even the not so nice ones! In a time when most of the nobility married purely for logistical dynastic reasons, Harold married for love and held on to it until the last possible minute. Set opposite to the Saxons, we have William, Duke of Normandy (and his wife, Matilda). He is a power hungry, ruthless, persistent man who is determined to always get what he wants. I got the feel from this read that the author is writing from a pro-Saxon standpoint - and I found myself being instantly drawn to them as well, and at the same time, really despising William.

I was most impressed with the writing of the actual Battle of Hastings - because, quite frankly, even though I loved seeing the characters stories, this was the part I was most interested in. I found it well written and that the outlooks of both sides in the battle were presented in a fair and well rounded manner. I have noticed that many times battle scenes can be too gory or that I lose interest in the intricacies of the battle - but that did not happen here. There was just enough detail without going overboard. I kept hoping, all the way to the last page, that history would be changed and that the Battle of Hastings would somehow go the other way!

This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic historical novel 16 April 2011
By Cynesige - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel tells the story of King Harold II, in the twenty years leading up to the Norman Conquest. For all but the last year, he was a powerful Earl in Anglo-Saxon England; in the last year, 1066, he becomes King, and then ... well, things don't work out so well for him, as we all know. The novel is faithful to the historical record, for the most part, while taking a few liberties here and there. The cast of characters is huuuuuge, with vividly elaborated characters and realistic, complex relationships. It's an elegantly written novel, at times bordering on "literary fiction", with an exceptional communication of the look, feel, smell and vibe of 11th century England.

When I read the first few pages, I became slightly concerned that it was a "Chick Book", for lack of a better phrase. Right at the beginning, there's a reference to Earl Godwine getting a bit of a woodie while talking to Queen Emma. Uh oh, I thought: 600 pages of sexual tension and passionate passions coming up. But by page 10 the book had gotten down to the task at hand, telling the Pre-Conquest story. Bodice-ripper scenes are mercifully rare and brief, tastefully done, and never for their own sake -- they always fit within and enhance the story. The book started somewhat slowly but picked up pace and quality as it progressed. Each of the four parts of the book is stronger than the previous one. I almost feel like it took the author about 100-150 pages to hit full stride, after which point the book really took off.

The book is extremely complete, in terms of covering the events of the time and all of the historical participants, which is no mean feat, since there were scores and scores of people involved. I laughed out loud when I hit the reference to Turold the midget. Turold is one of the four mystery/unknown people in the Bayeux Tapestry (a 230-foot-long embroidery made shortly after the Battle of Hastings, probably in the 1070s, which documents the last two years of the events covered in the novel). Nobody really knows who Turold was, or why he is in the Tapestry at all. Hollick includes him, briefly, in one scene, at which point I thought: this is one really tenacious author; anyone and anything that is or could possibly be part of the historical tale makes it into the book, in some shape or form.

Like any historical novel, judgments and choices are made about the history, which may or may not sync with what "really" happened. A non-fictional history book has the liberty of exploring multiple competing theories of an historical event, but a novel has to make a plot choice and run with it. All of Hollick's choices seemed plausible, and in many cases quite compelling (though her suggestion that the English fought as cavalry (on horseback) at Stamford Bridge is, while possible, at odds with all other accounts except for one). I particularly liked her interpretation of Harold's trip to Normandy in late 1064, which is one of the crucial turning points in the history of the Conquest. Some people question whether Harold made the trip at all, and there are at least four different interpretations of why he might've gone there (1 - he went to Europe to learn about various continental leaders, 2 - he went to Normandy to confirm Edward's intent to have William succeed him, 3 - he went to Normandy to retrieve two English hostages, 4 - he was blown off course on a fishing trip). Hollick sticks to an accepted, mainstream interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry, that the intent of the trip was to retrieve two hostages. From there, she launches into a very compelling tale of Harold, stuck in Normandy for seven months, gradually pressured, one step at a time, into ultimately taking an oath to support William's claim on the English throne, against his better judgment - but lacking alternative courses of action. The notion of him getting gradually sucked into this monumental, history-changing mess, while aware of the risk involved, but unable to overcome William's guile, was brilliantly woven.

I was impressed with the writing quality. Hollick notes in the post-script that one of her goals was to bring "animation" to the history, and that's exactly what she does. She takes old scraps of history and breathes fresh life into them. The characters seem like real people, beset with real, and often familiar, types of problems. One thing that really stood out to me was the evolving nature of her characters - they change over time! And not just one character, but all of them! How she kept so many characters with their personal growth and change arcs in her head at the same time, while telling such a complex story, is quite a mystery. I think most readers will be very, very impressed with her gigantic effort to provide the reader with such a richly, vividly told tale.

For those who enjoy this book, I'd also recommend "1066: The Novel" by Mike Bryant. It, too, tells the Conquest story in a compelling way, in this case from the first-person perspective of a monk.

In short: buy this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I am the Chosen King 25 Mar 2011
By Erin Nass - Published on
In the 11th Century, the celibate and highly religious Saxon King Edward sat on the throne of England. The only surviving son of Queen Emma "Ælgifu", Edward came to the throne he never wanted harboring resentment against the mother that forced him to grow up abandoned in exile and baring a fierce loyalty to the Norman nobles and clerics who raised and protected him in his mother's stead. Edward played a wicked game of politics to force his mother out of power and to cow her supporters among the Earls of England. But was he too much in bed with Normandy for the comfort of the Saxon Earls? Did he really promise the Saxon throne to the Norman bastard Duke William?

King Edward's choices and decisions set the stage for one of the shortest reigns in English history: the last Saxon King Harold. Son of Earl Godwin, Harold devoted himself to England as his father had done before him. When King Edward died without an heir, the council of Earls elected Harold to the throne of England in the hopes that he could defend her from the growing Norman threat. His anointment, though, had quite the opposite effect. Duke William "the bastard" launched a military campaign so immense against England that it changed the history of English royalty forever.

Helen Hollick does a superb job of continuing her story of the final years of Saxon ruled England. In the first book of this series, The Forever Queen, Helen brings to life the reign of the Queen Emma, the only queen to keep her crown through 5 kings. In I Am the Chosen King, Helen picks up where she left off and follows the sons of Emma and her champion, Godwin as they lead England to the seat of the last Saxon King.
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