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Conquest (The Making of England Quartet) Paperback – 17 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (17 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718156773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718156770
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stewart Binns is a former academic, soldier and teacher and now an author and documentary-maker. His television credits include the 'In-Colour' genre of programmes, notably the BAFTA and Grierson winner, Britain at War and the Peabody winner, 'Second World War in Colour'.
He also launched Trans World Sport in 1987, Futbol Mundial in 1993, the Olympic Games Camera of Record in 1994 and the Olympic Television Archive Bureau in 1996.
Other productions include Century (1998), Churchill (2003), Tiger, The Official Biography (2004), Chasing Churchill (2006), Indochine (2009), Korea, The Forgotten War (2010).
His latest production, Seisen, the Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire, was completed in January 2012 and he is now embarking on The Jewel in the Crown, a major series on 20th century India.
Currently Chief Executive of the independent production company, Big Ape Media International, his writing credits include non-fiction titles The Greatest, Who is Britain's Top Sports Star? Boxtree 1996, The Second World War in Colour, Pavilion 1999, Britain at War in Colour, Carlton 2000, America at War in Colour, Carlton 2001 and British Empire in Colour, Carlton 2002.
His first novel, Conquest, was published by Penguin in 2011, its sequel, Crusade, was released in April 2012, the third in the series, Anarchy in May 2013 and the fourth, Lionheart, in November 2013.
His home is in Somerset, where he live with his wife Lucy and twin boys, Charlie and Jack.

Product Description


Stewart Binns has produced a real page-turner, a truly stunning adventure story, set in a fascinating and crucial time in history. Whether in the big, set-piece battles, or telling the story of the romance between the two main characters, he knows how to hold the reader's attention. There are also strong themes underpinning all the activity that unfolds - people in a struggle for freedom and justice, people trying to come to terms with their own demons and people in a search for truth. I can thoroughly recommend this book. (Alastair Campbell: Communicator, Writer, Strategist)

Conquest is a wonderful book. A compelling story, it is both a chronicle of a dramatic adventure and a tale of an enduring romance between two remarkable people: the heroic Hereward of Bourne and his beguiling wife, Torfida of the Wildwood.

I could not put it down and read it in just three sessions. It is a gripping page-turner, beautifully written, replete with wonderful historical detail. The author paints amazingly vivid pictures and uses the language with great skill and warmth.

My grandfather, Winston Churchill, would have loved this book. It enlivens one of the most important periods in our history and is very faithful to real historical events. I suspect that if he had read Conquest before he completed his History of the English Speaking Peoples, he would have included an appropriate acknowledgement of the worthy deeds of Hereward and his loyal band of followers.

(Celia Sandys: Author, presenter and granddaughter of Winston Churchill)

As a living legend myself, I know a lot about heroes!

This guy, Hereward of Bourne, is the real deal and this book brings him to life and the events around him in amazing detail.

I couldn't put it down. It's a gripping adventure story but the way the real events and characters are portrayed is a big bonus. History freaks will love it and those who don't know the period will want to know more.

Read it!

(Daley Thompson: Decathlete and Double Olympic Gold Medallist 1980 & 1984)

About the Author

Stewart Binns began his professional life as an academic. He then pursued several adventures, including a stint at the BBC, before settling into a career as a schoolteacher, specializing in history. Later in life, a lucky break took him back to the BBC, which was the beginning of a successful career in television. He has won a BAFTA, a Grierson, an RTS and a Peabody for his documentaries. Stewart's passion is English history, especially its origins and folklore. Conquest is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By pete melvets on 5 April 2014
Format: Paperback
I got about as far as where the new age hippy is lecturing the pope before I fell asleep. You don't need Mogadon with this book, folks!
Hereward, one of the great heroes of England, is portrayed as Conan the Barbarian, but the book isn't as well written or as much fun as the Conan stories.
Basically Mr Binns has sexed up Kingsley's Hereward the Wake novel from the 19th century - lashings of ultra-violence and a bit of the old in out, but he can't write as well. I bet in a 100 years time you'll still be able to get hold of Charles Kingsley's works but I doubt very much that you'll be able to find this one.
And why is it boring, turgid books like this are always about two inches thick?
Granted, nothing much is known about Hereward, but we know a fair bit about the period in general. Did they really have massive double-headed battleaxes in the 11th Century, and did Welsh warriors (who were Christians a long time before the Anglo-Saxons) really carry the severed heads of their enemies on their saddles? I might be wrong but I thought that was something that happened hundreds of years before.
No offence to Mr Binns - we've all got to make a living, and no offence to those that enjoyed this book, and I'm sure in other respects they adjust well to life - but I didn't like this book although I'm interested in this period of history. I don't think it's very well written and it didn't hold my attention.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Parm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Reading Conquest was a mix of emotions, the plot pace and characterisations are very much like Bernard Cornwell, in fact it put me in mind of his Arthurian series. The book leads you on a journey of action and adventure as well as education of the time period, but on a note of caution the facts are well blended with many flights of fanciful fiction to make the plot as strong and pacey as it is.
Reading the book makes any Englishman feel proud of his heritage, but also gives you an insight into how our character what makes us English was formed over many years and through many cultures, without these trials and cultures there would have been no empire, no Victorian era, no resistance on WW1 and no stubborn refusal to hold out against the Nazis, the many adventurers explorers and the indomitable spirit may never have existed. that's the biggest thing I took from the book.

Every character in this book is well rounded well written and someone the reader can bond with very quickly, i read this book in a single sitting and it was the perfect way to read it.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J. Cooper on 20 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was a bitter disappointment and such a wasted opportunity. I scarcely know how to unravel this quagmire, but will endeavour to explain as succinctly as possible.

On reflection, I think that this book has three main structural flaws:

1) An overambitious plot.
2) Poorly constructed characters with terrible dialogue.
3) Completely farcical scenes, where credibility was scarce.

Hereward is the main protagonist and is introduced to us as a wastrel as a very young man. Banished by the king, he cleans his act up and then embarks on a series of journeys and adventures which span the length and breadth of Europe. He meets every famous warrior king along the way, picks up a wife and a band of companions and is involved in the Battle of Hastings and the English rebellion thereafter.

The book starts well and shows initial signs of promise but swiftly dives from that point onwards. The inclusion of frequent mindboggling events really stretches the book's credibility almost to the point where I felt embarrassed for the author.

Let me include a few snippets of the delights awaiting you:

< An inexperienced boy advising a seasoned battle hardened king on military tactics and then proceeding to train his warriors.

< An endless fascination with blood, heritage and culture; all completely cringe-worthy and oh so politically correct!

< Battle scenes and one to one combat where Hereward slays everyone, regardless of his initial inexperience.

< Torfida, a young women who willingly leaves a safe nunnery and gives herself to a complete stranger.

< Hereward who appears at noble courts all over Europe and demands a position as a knight and trainer of warriors.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark on 5 Oct. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
There are a lot of extreme reviews on this book, either 1 or 4 stars. I enjoyed it but compared to say Bernard Cornwells Uhtred novels, its very poor by comparison. The writing style is difficult to get used to, and makes it very difficult to empathise with the characters, you never really get to care about them as much as you would in a more well written novel. If you enjoy historical novels around warfare then you will probably enjoy this like I did. Otherwise, avoid.
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By boywonder on 4 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
Not a bad book. A good subject with some good characters. The only problem is the main character. The biggest, strongest, fastest, cleverest, most charismatic, most influential person ever in the history of mankind. A man who can walk into an army camp, walk right up to the king without being challenged and say to the king "I'm brilliant and will train your army. To which the kings all reply: "Oh, thank you man who I have never heard of before please show my men what to do!!! Then I'll give you whatever you wish!!!"
His character is portrayed more as a fantasy hero than a real man as he constantly takes on and beats all comers with ease and contempt, be them single or multiple attackers. If the author had only toned down his invincibility factor then it would have been a much easier story to swallow but unfortunately Hereward ruins his own story.
Don't think I will be reading the other books in this series but will give James Wildes take on the subject a go.
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