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Sworn Sword (The Conquest) [Paperback]

James Aitcheson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
RRP: £6.99
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Book Description

15 Mar 2012 The Conquest (Book 1)

January 1069. Less than three years have passed since Hastings and the death of the usurper, Harold Godwineson. In the depths of winter, two thousand Normans march to subdue the troublesome province of Northumbria. Tancred a Dinant, an ambitious and oath-sworn knight and a proud leader of men, is among them, hungry for battle, for silver and for land.

But at Durham the Normans are ambushed in the streets by English rebels. In the battle that ensues, their army is slaughtered almost to a man. Badly wounded, Tancred barely escapes with his life. His lord is among those slain.

Soon the enemy are on the march, led by the dispossessed prince Eadgar, the last of the ancient Saxon line, who is determined to seize the realm he believes is his. Yet even as Tancred seeks vengeance for his lord's murder, he finds himself caught up in secret dealings between a powerful Norman magnate and a shadow from the past.

As the Norman and English armies prepare to clash, Tancred begins to uncover a plot which harks back to the day of Hastings itself. A plot which, if allowed to succeed, threatens to undermine the entire Conquest. The fate of the Kingdom hangs in the balance ...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (15 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099559412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099559412
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Aitcheson was born in Wiltshire in 1985 and studied History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where began his fascination with the medieval period and the Norman Conquest in particular.

"Sworn Sword" is his first novel, and the first in the Conquest Series, featuring the knight Tancred and set in England during the tumultuous years that followed the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Tancred's adventures continue with "The Splintered Kingdom" and "Knights of the Hawk". James is currently working on his fourth novel.

Visit http://www.jamesaitcheson.com for all the latest news and information about James and his books, his official blog, and details of future signings and other events. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesAitcheson.

Product Description


"Vibrant and authentic. Rarely have I been so transported into the world of the medieval knight, and his environs. In short, Sworn Sword is an excellent read, full of intrigue and vivid, realistic battles. For new writers of historical fiction, this accomplished debut novel sets a high standard indeed." (Ben Kane, author of the bestselling Forgotten Legion Chronicles)

"Fans of the sword-swinging drama still mourning the end of HBO's epic Game of Thrones will find plenty to love in this uncompromising slice of historical fiction ... Breathlessly paced and packed with action, it's a mightily accomplished debut in a major new series" (ShortList)

"A fantastic novel ... utterly convincing ... The plot is superb, clever and as true to the sources as is possible ... a brilliant achievement" (Dr Elisabeth van Houts, Emmauel College, Cambridge)

"The setting and historical detail are superb and there is more than enough excitement to keep you hooked to the final page" (New Books)

"Action packed, this is the first in a promising series, set in a fascinating period" (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

An ambitious young Norman soldier fights against desperate odds to consolidate the conquest of England in the years after the Battle of Hastings. Brilliant first novel in the mould of Requiem by Robyn Young.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crushing the English 6 July 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a historical novel covering the counter-attacks by the northern English against the Normans in York and Durham. The skulking way of war practised by the "Northumbrians" (well covered in William Kapelle's "The Normans In The North") gives more success than the manly ways of Wessex. The author has gone to a great deal of trouble to fit the story in its historical background. The use of contemporary spellings was, I thought, very atmospheric. However, the careful positioning and historical background are undermined by a slow pace; in part this is to develop the characters but I felt it acted to the detriment of the plot. A little more Dumas is needed, I think. This book will be enjoyed by those who like the more languorous plots (the Jack Aubrey novels for example) rather than the short sharp "A Game Of Thrones" approach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good page turner 10 Mar 2012
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For such a pivotal event in English history, the Norman Conquest has inspired surprisingly little historical fiction, much of it the preserve of authors aiming at the younger reader like Henry Treece's Hounds of the King or Eleanor Watkins' Greyback and the odd fictionalised account of Hereward the Wake. Even French authors don't seem terribly inspired by the Normans, with only Alain Absire's God's Equal - an interesting reworking of the film The War Lord [DVD] that ignores the Conquest - standing out, with even Hollywood and television largely steering clear. Part of the problem is that the Normans aren't a terribly interesting bunch culturally, best remembered for their haircuts, armour and a tapestry that was almost certainly the work of Anglo Saxon artisans but also for securing their rule of a divided kingdom with surprisingly few men by the brutal harrying of the north. As such it's a brave move by the author not only to take the less sympathetic Norman side of the aftermath of 1066 but also concentrate on one of the Normans sent to harry the north into submission and expect us to sympathise with his plight when his comrades are slaughtered in a rare Anglo Saxon victory. Read more ›
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly excellent! 18 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am not often moved to give a book five stars. As it was, I deliberated for a long time over whether to give "Sworn Sword" five stars or not. But, to be honest, I couldn't find a reason *not* to.

First of all, it's a well-written, good story, with likeable and sympathetic characters who, while perhaps a little two-dimensional, are fully-formed enough to make you care about them. Secondly, the plot is good, and while the 'main' plot might seem rather inconsequential to a modern reader, one does begin to understand its importance (I can't really say anything about it, so as not to spoil it - those who know their medieval history will get its significance quickly; those who don't will learn of it when they read the book).

James Aitcheson, the author, knows his stuff, as well he should, as he read History at Cambridge. His knowledge and understanding of Anglo-Norman England comes across well in the book. There are a couple of times when it seems a bit forced, a bit "this is something I know, so I'm going to describe it to you in detail"; but that only happens once or twice. He made a good choice, I think, in placing the story in the years *after* the Norman invasion - not only does it get away from what people already know, or think they know; but it also allows him to develop his own plot lines around rather thinly-sourced history, giving him more scope to be inventive. But the background of the story is real history, and Aitcheson manages to weave his fiction around established events effortlessly.

I was a little bit irritated by the hyperbole of the publishers' comments on my review copy, but they might not appear on the final, bookshelf version. What we do have here, however, is a very good, exciting, and well-written historical novel that should certainly appeal to anyone who enjoys Bernard Cornwell or Giles Kristian. I look forward to the next in the series.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plodding Normans 28 Dec 2011
By H. T. Davies VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is probably a good book.

The author certainly knows his stuff and has done a lot of research into the period as part of his studies. And therein, for this reader, lies the problem. This reads too much like fleshed out thesis notes to me. All sorts of technical boxes are ticked regarding weaponry, horses, the complications of succession but the story suffers. The Norman band plods from York to London and sadly the narrative plods with them and I have to confess that I lost interest in what their quest was about, I just wanted them to get on with it. The vagaries of the Anglo-Saxon language are interesting but do not do a lot to pepper up the tale.

The post-Conquest period seems to be very popular at the moment and I imagine that this is the first in a series (trilogy?). I will definitely give the author's second offering a look because I think that if he can develop his narrative style and pace things should look up. This is a first novel which could have benefited from some more severe editing but those interested in the period will certainly get something from it. Those looking for a ripping yarn, however, will not.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fast delivery - nice one.
Published 17 days ago by Mr. L. Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought the set
Published 25 days ago by jack swift
4.0 out of 5 stars its fine
Starts off a bit slow but once you get in to it ,its fine
Published 28 days ago by Eopuchlik
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
great book
Published 1 month ago by Dennis Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read!
I cannot believe someone so young has written such an excellent first novel on a period of History I really like. A brilliant page turning novel! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by donghall
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I thought ..
Not really a fan of hearing how the Normans brutalised the English ... really could not get into this one and I do like historical novels..
Published 4 months ago by Gixersan
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic debut novel
What hooked me to this novel was the clever idea of a Norman's point of view of the aftermath of 1066. I found myself liking this outsider on the Norman side. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars A great debut novel from a very talented young writer.
I would have liked to have give this book 4.5 stars because although I loved it was not perfect and few books are anyway but amazon doesn't have a rating for "I was blown away by... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Paula
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