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The Last Conquest [Paperback]

Berwick Coates
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

12 Sep 2013
Hastings, October 1066. The Normans have landed in Sussex, ready for battle. They have prepared for everything about the English - except their absence… Their enemy, King Harold and his fyrd, are hundreds of miles away, fighting to expel the Viking host in the north. But they have heard that William has landed and rumour is that they are marching back, triumphant and dangerous - and spoiling for a second victory. Back in Sussex, Gilbert, a young scout in William's army, is sent out in search of the enemy. He is dedicated and ambitious, and determined to be the first with news for his leader. Deep in the English countryside, Edwin, houndsman to King Harold, longs too for glory. He has missed the first battle against the Vikings, but he will not miss the second. He knows his king is about to make history, and he is going to be part of it. And as the action sweeps up towards the hilltop close to Hastings where Harold will plant his standard - defying the Bastard of Normandy to come and get it - the ground is laid for battle. This is the story of the greatest battle ever seen on British soil and of the men who fought it. This is the story of the Battle of Hastings.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (12 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471111962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471111969
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Berwick Coates was educated at Kingston Grammar School, and read History at Cambridge. Since then, he has been at various times an Army officer, writer, artist, lecturer, careers adviser, games coach, and teacher of History, English, Latin, and Swahili. He has published nine books, ranging from A-Level History and popular history to memoirs, humour, cartoons, and light verse.

He has taught every age and every ability from primary remedial to Oxbridge entrance. He has lectured to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, on subjects ranging from Alexander the Great and Hannibal, through medieval and early modern history, to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

His latest book is a collection of fifty views of Christmas (illustrated by himself), entitled 'The Perfect Christmas Present'. He has also written four historical novels and one modern one. He is at present finishing a book of teaching memoirs.

Product Description

About the Author

Berwick Coates was educated at Kingston Grammar School and Christ's College, Cambridge. Since then he has been, at various times, an Army officer, writer, artist, lecturer, careers adviser, games coach, and teacher of History, English, Latin, General Studies, and Swahili. He is the author of nine works of non-fiction, and lives in the West country where he works as a school archivist.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found history a fairly stodgy subject at school and I have learned most of what I know by visiting historical sites and reading books by authors such as Ken Follett. I know that these are works of fiction and there is a degree of artistic licence at play, but a good historical novel uses factual research as its basis whilst bringing history to life. The Last Conquest does this very well indeed. I really enjoyed reading it and I am now inspired to revisit the site of the Battle of Hastings with fresh insight and understanding.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid conquest 24 April 2013
This is a great novel written by a historian who really knows his subject and who can also tell a cracking good story. Throughout it made me want to keep reading - a great page-turner. I hope he writes more - this was a terrific first.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow starter but worth persevering with 8 May 2013
Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of historical fiction and have read all of the books by the main players like Cornwell, Scarrow, Riches and Kane. That said I always try and be supportive of new writers and it was therefore with much excitement and anticipation that I bought a copy of this book.

I find myself totally in agreement with the last reviewer in as much as there was so much character description and back story for so many characters, many of whom were minor in my opinion, that the story became bogged down and took an age to get going. Several times I nearly quit reading it, but decided to persevere and in the end I was glad because about 80% of the way through we finally get to the battle. This is extremely well written and I found it easy to visualise the scene, such was the level of detail and intensity of the writing; I only wish that it hadn't taken so long to arrive at.

The book as a whole is extremely well written, just too heavy going for my liking and bogged down in unnecessary detail. It should be remembered though that this is a debut novel, although the author has written several non-fiction books and is consequently still honing his craft.I don't know if he plans on following this book up with another about the aftermath of Hastings, but if so I shall certainly be looking out for it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Conquest 3 July 2013
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
I'm always a bit nervous approaching an historical novel by a new author; I have found myself disappointed all too often with historical novels, in their approach, or historical accuracy or just the style of writing. So while I was eager to read this, I was also a little bit nervous, but I had no need to be.

Having defeated the forces of his brother Tostig and the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066, Harold Godwinson gathered his forces and marched south to meet the invasion force led by William, Duke of Normandy. The Battle of Hastings as we know it was fought between the English and the invading forces on 14 October 1066. While the outcome is fairly well known to all, what actually happened leading up to the Battle on 14 October is perhaps not so well known.

This book dissects just the week of 7 to 14 October 1066. The reader is drawn gut first into a mess of uncertainty, fear, ambition, greed, lust, hatred, despair and all that is encompassed within a week when the Normans have landed, they don't know where the English are or what has happened to the Norwegian forces, and everyone is trying to decide what to do next. We read of the lives of ordinary men and the great men, the good men and the brutal men, and we find out what goes through men's minds as they face the greatest battle, and the greatest test of their lives. They all know that they could die, and fully expect to. But some hope for glory, gold, or power. Some just want to see the next dawn.

This is a great book, where we live the lives of these men and feel their fears and hopes. I would like to think there was a sequel, where we get to read more of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the battle, and William of Normandy's push to be accepted as King.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected but in a good way 29 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was expecting something more akin to Cornwell to be honest. What you get is so much better. It's really about the characters and the battle is the device that binds all the stories together. In this sense it brings the period to life. It isn't just historical fiction it's historical insight. Would thoroughly recommend to lovers of literature but perhaps not those looking for an easy distraction on the morning commute. The battle scenes are brilliant. Buy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ripping Yarn. 21 Jun 2014
I really enjoyed reading this book, not only for the depth of historical detail within it, but also for the fantastic characterization, Very few characters are definitely 'goodies' or 'baddies', each having many facets, much like real life. The presentation of the story from both Norman and Saxon (ordinary individuals') perspectives is really intriguing, challenging the typical 'history is written by the victors' attitude, seeing and experiencing the events from the viewpoints of ordinary soldiers contrasts with much historical fiction available at the moment, where the main characters are rulers, or those from the ruling classes.
Overall, well worth the money, I look forward to starting the next one!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not the story of the Battle of Hastings 20 Nov 2013
By Garynd
The Battle of Hastings begins on page 438 and is over by page 509 of this 547 page novel, so Berwick Coates is not telling 'the story of the Battle of Hastings' Most of the first 400-odd pages consist of the various visits of a novice Norman scout, Gilbert, to a Saxon mill, where lives the; initially unbeknown to him; alleged rapist of his wife. While he is there, nothing happens. When he finally confronts the alleged offender, much later in the book, nothing happens. The characters Coates introduces us to are too many, too vague, too uninteresting and too unnecessary to the plot. Of the battle itself, Coates has skipped around one of the most bloody and violent days in English history. Why choose to retell a famous story and then not add your own drama to it ?
I bought this as holiday reading but spent most of my holiday struggling with the sudoku's of the local newspapers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed this
original style, intriguing characters, really,really enjoyed this book
Published 8 days ago by gary kenny
4.0 out of 5 stars A hill too far...
I enjoyed this romp from Berwick.

I liked the language which set the scene, the research was wonderfully transmuted - brilliant and the end battle is very well... Read more
Published 23 days ago by D. Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a tremendous book. The characterization is developed slowly but surely and as the battle finally develops we see and are involved with the views, perils, successes and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. S. Buckingham
5.0 out of 5 stars A great understanding of warfare
For me this was a fantastic novel as it shows the build up of a one week time frame towards the battle itself, creating great tension. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Will
1.0 out of 5 stars Like a soap Opera 1066 style!
This could have been really good. Instead there are a few fact packed out with load boring waffle! Wasted Money!
Published 11 months ago by Joy Garnsey
5.0 out of 5 stars The week of the conquest
I was really excited by this book. I made contact with Berwick as soon as I heard of his subject as I too was working on a novel about William the Conqueror. Read more
Published 12 months ago by David Diprose
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story, well told
An excellent story, really well characterised. Time spent at the beginning setting the scene really gave a feel for the time and place. Read more
Published 14 months ago by P. A. Millie
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreadfully disappointing...
I'm afraid I found this book incredibly disappointing. It was extremely slow and I just didn't seem to connect with any of the characters. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Hoggie
1.0 out of 5 stars Battle what battle.
While I appreciate the writer as to lay some foundation for the characters and the plot, this all took 3/4's of the novel and by then I had lost interest.
Published 14 months ago by Mr. Gary Stainthorpe
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