This book was published in 1987 and I have to admit it completely passed me by at the time. I've only now caught up with it and I am impressed. It ranges over fifteen centuries of English existence, from AD 70 to 1589 and takes as its base a ridge of land in Sussex, on which a varied group of people come to live good and bad by their own lights. I grew quite fond of Edred the Saxon who only wants to kill Danes and the courageous sergeant Robert, a Norman who is forced to live among Saxons, but finds a woman to help him make a home and found a family. It does get a little oozy at times, as children are introduced and attitudes to families are rather more modern than they would have been at the time. But there is lots of feuding, which gives a rich authentic edge.
The writing is plain and rather plodding and goes in for cod-ye-olde-worlde-speak rather too much, but if you can put that aside this is a remarkable chronicle of how it might have been to live through some of the most difficult times of history - the defeat of Harold and the arrival of the hated Normans, the dissolution of the monasteries, the accession of Bloody Mary, all of which affect this sheltered little spot in England more than might be imagined. It shows how history doesn't care a fig for how people might struggle to make a living, bring up their children etc, if they get in the way of the local lord or priest. The book succeeds neither as fiction nor as history, but there is something pleasing in its hybrid nature and I enjoyed it.