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Shieldwall [Hardcover]

Justin Hill
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 May 2011
The year is 1016 and England burns while the Viking armies blockade the great city of London. King Ethelred lies dying and the England he knew dies with him; the warring kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex and Northymbria tremble on the brink of great change. One man lives to bear witness to the upheaval: Godwin, barely out of boyhood and destined to become one of his country's great warriors. When Ethelred's son Edmund takes the throne, determined to succeed where his father failed, he plucks Godwin from domestic peace to be right-hand man in his loyal shield wall. Godwin must traverse the meadows, wintry forests and fogbound marshes of Saxon England, raising armies of monks, ploughmen and shepherds against the Viking invader. With epic courage and ferocity, Godwin and Edmund repel the butchering Danes in three great battles. But an old enemy, the treacherous Earl Eadric, dogs Godwin's footsteps, and as the final battle approaches, around the valiant English the trap begins to close.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; First Edition edition (26 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408702789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408702789
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Justin Hill was born in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island in 1971 and was brought up in York. He was educated at England's oldest school - St Peter's, York (founded 627 AD), and studied Medieval Literature at St Cuthbert's Society, Durham University.

Justin worked for seven years as a volunteer with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) in rural China and Eritrea, East Africa. Interviewers have likened him to George Orwell, a boxer, and Tolstoy.

The Independent on Sunday listed as one of the UK's Top Twenty Young British Writers in 2002. His vivid depictions of his experiences in fiction and travelogues have been acclaimed both at home and internationally, as well as being banned by the Chinese government. He has won the Somerset Maugham Award, the Betty Trask Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His work has been shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Encore Award.

He is currently writing the Conquest Series: which covers the events around the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Shieldwall, the first of these, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year.

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Product Description


'Exciting, imaginative and gripping'
--The Times

'With wonderful poetic passages Hill reached beyond the limits of the genre and gives us something that has resonance and harks back to the halls of our Saxon forebears in those dark days of the early eleventh century' --Guardian

'Engaging . . . An exciting, imaginative and gripping reminder that there was life in the old place before the Norman invasion' --Kate Saunders, The Times

'With wonderful poetic passages Hill reached beyond the limits of the genre and gives us something that has resonance and harks back to the halls of our Saxon forebears in those dark days of the early eleventh century' --Guardian

'A vivid historical novel written in supple, intelligent prose.Brings the distant world of pre-Conquest England to life . . . Entirely convincing' --Sunday Times

Book Description

* A superbly evocative novel that was published to critical acclain, which chronicles the momentous events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait to finish it; don't want it to end 10 Mar 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm only halfway through Shieldwall but have been driven to write a review because of the extraordinary quality of this book.

After reading Julian Rathbone's The Last English King, I became very interested in historical fiction and have enjoyed many fine novels (Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden etc.)

Unfortunately, I have found some diminishing returns in recent years and, all too often, have failed to finish books due to clunky writing, poor story-telling and other perceived faults (maybe I'm just getting fussy in middle-age).

However, Shieldwall has had a similar impact to The Last English King. The writing is beautiful and the characters are entirely believable. I've just got to the first battle scene and it was as exciting (and upsetting) a depiction of combat as I've ever read. Somebody died (I won't say who) and it felt like it hit me as hard as the arrow hit the character.

I understand there will be a sequel. Thank goodness as I don't want this book to end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and profound book 31 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Most historical novels you read are kind of the literary equivalent of a waxwork museum, or a costume drama. Reading them, you're always aware that the author's looking back at the era through 21st century glasses, and the portrait is unintentionally shaded by our time, it's prejudices and tastes. "Shieldwall" is different; it's a heck of an imaginative feat, how can I explain it? Justin Hill captures an England just about to emerge from the dark ages, the radiance and the terror of an England at once primal in its unspoiled beauty and in the savagery of war. He writes a vivid prose, that manages a hard Anglo-Saxon realism and a poetry that is all his, and the characters after 20 pages or so, become people we know as deeply as we've known anyone, and I can think of no higher praise for a writer than that. "Shieldwall" is a kind of necromancy; Mr. Hill has brought the voice of Old England back from the darkness, and I recommend the book utterly.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By I. B. Pitbladdo VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
To be honest, I wasn't sure about this one at the start, it seemed a bit lacklustre and slow.
How wrong can you be?
Once into its stride this became a gripping tale of some of history's less well known, but in their time, major players. Justin Hill's novel is well researched and shines a welcome and erudite light on 'The Dark Ages' pre 1066.
Those interested in history will be familiar with Harold Godwinson etc. but I'm willing to bet few will be aware of his father's doings let alone his grandfather's. This then is the setting for 'Shieldwall' and while the events portrayed played out a thousand years ago Mr Hill puts a very creditable, if difficult to prove, interpretation on them. The result is an excellent novel, Mr Hill has the story telling gift, no doubt of it.
If you like Conn Iggulden or Harry sidebottom try Justin Hill I don't think you will be disappointed, I'm certainly eager for the next instalment.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 19 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I ordered this book, my expectations were somewhat low. It seemed that this one would be yet another book on the Vikings battling and raiding the Anglo-Saxons. Yet this one stands out in several respects.

The main character is somewhat original. Instead of the "usual" novels on the Great Army or King Alfred, on the one hand, and all the stuff on Harold Godwinson, 1066 and all that, this book is about the younger years of his father - Godwin Wulfnothson, under King Ethelread and Edmund "Ironside".

It is also very well researched and well documented with the author "sticking" to historical facts as much as he can and telling a plausible story where there are no facts - such as the role of Wulfnoth and his exile in Dublin, of which we know next to nothing.

One disappointment, however, was that Justin Hill seemed less interested in telling the story of Godwin's service to Knut. A pity because this is itself could have made a good story. Perhaps he is saving it for his second tome which I will most certainly buy.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great historical fiction novel 26 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was a little anxious about reading Shieldwall - it was on the Amazon Vine Review list, so out of curiosity I selected it. My concern - I too write Historical Fiction and two of my novels are exactly of this period.

As historical fiction novelists, it is up to us to do the research, get the facts as right as we can, breath life into people who lived several hundred years ago - and invent the rest as plausibly as we can and make the narrative as believable as possible.

Justin Hill has done this superbly.

I am a huge Godwin and Harold Godwinsson supporter (Harold is my hero) and my own interpretation of their story - and Emma and Cnut's - is very dear to me.

Shieldwall did not disappoint - in fact the opposite. And Huzzah for more about Edmund Ironside - what a fantastic King he would have made. I admire and respect that guy - he deserves his own book!

There were some things I didn't agree with - but all history is a matter of interpretation and opinion. We all have our own views and argue like mad over which one of us is right. At the end of the day, though, this is a novel written for entertainment, it is not meant to be a history book.... so its a damn fine read!

(I'm now anxious to see what the author does with 1066..... no Norman propaganda I hope? Duke William had no right to the English throne....)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A rip-roaring read of late Saxon England.
Justin Hill I thought? I've never heard of him as an author of Historical Fiction - and that is because, despite him writing a number of books, he has never written books on this... Read more
Published 8 days ago by uncle barbar
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and the title misleads
I was really looking forward to a great Saxon saga but this wasn't it. The story line was okay (but not page turningly exciting), that wasn't the real problem. Read more
Published 6 months ago by C. Aitken
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing
The first part of the book was so boring,slow and morose I gave up on it. I may give it another try when the weather isn't so depressing.
Published 7 months ago by Kevin Johnstone
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read
Although I skipped in and out of this book (for no reason to do with the book) I found it to be highly creditable imagining of a time in our history we really know very little... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very evocative of the times
Brings to life the (deliberately?) forgotten and neglected period of English history. Genuinely heroic figures and real villains who modern school children know nothing about are... Read more
Published 9 months ago by N. Cameron
4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic
Having studied Anglo-Saxon History at University this book was steeped in an authentic bricolage which held me throughout, the names, rhythm and general tone of the book are... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Prospero77
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
hill didnt disappoint. didnt know this author before i bough this book and bought it on the story content. will be buying some more
Published 10 months ago by Ms. J. Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars liked it
liked it will read other justin hill books sometimr in the future. that is all i can remember at the moment as it is was a little while ago that iread it.
Published 11 months ago by alex saunders
4.0 out of 5 stars A good yarn.
Not bad passed the nights away. You could feel the nerves of the warriors as they prepared for battle. Very well described and reasearshed.
Published 12 months ago by Ted
2.0 out of 5 stars potential writer with good parts, but overall badly strung together...
Almost never happens when i don't finish a book, but sad to say reading this was boring. The same thing, over and over with obvious conclusions. Read more
Published 12 months ago by MR R G LOGAN
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