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4.2 out of 5 stars37
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 25 October 2010
When I was at school, the lessons on 1066 were brief, and I was left with the impression that Harold was a sneaky and somewhat incompetent king, who came to an ignoble end at the wrong end of an arrow.

1066 was absolutely a turning point in England's history, when we exchanged one bunch of invaders for another. It is a lot more complex, interesting and indeed, noble, than I was ever taught in school.

Henty has written this in mostly fictional style, a boy's own adventure with a rags to riches tale of one Wulf, a page of Harold, who was then an earl, but in all but name King of England; Edward the Confessor being more enamoured with the cloister than the Crown. Wulf is, of course, young, brave, heroic and completely indispensable to Harold, showing military tactics of such deep experience that belies his tender years. Such license is in no way detrimental to the story, and although the sallies with axe and sword may make it sound like a book with a series of battles, and as such of little interest to those that dislike buckets of gore, Henty avoids all this in matter-of-fact manner, so that deaths and the odd loss of limb are, for the most part, unimportant compared to keeping the historical story correct, and unbiased.

Henty tries to keep largely unbiased; William being shown at times an upright, wise and fair, but you can't help getting the impression that his sympathies lay with the English, who, in the end, had to again yield to a foreign force. My opinion is that the country would have fallen sooner rather than later, as we were getting battered and harried from all sides.

Henty also adds little historical asides; epilogues to the various characters, and even stating how actions taken had repercussions for years, if not centuries, to come. All this adds nice grounding for anyone interested in the history.

Like the movie Titanic, you get so caught up in the story (and there are various little romantic asides in Wulf too) that you almost find yourself praying that history was wrong and the English triumph, so brave and tenacious their defence of King and country.

I would recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in this period, but also to anyone studying the subject at school, as it is told in such a plain and uncomplicated manner as to make it very digestible. As a freebie on the Kindle, you really can't lose.

I cannot comment on the Kindle compared to the book version, as I have not read the latter, but I had no problems, apart from odd formatting at times; but I did not find this distracting and had no problems reading it.
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on 3 February 2011
This is another of the historical books by this author. It is a work of fiction set against actual events, and the action is seen mostly from the side of the Saxon inhabitants of England at the time of the Norman Conquest. Henty has clearly carried out a considerable amount of research in order to make the book as representative of the time as he can.

The main character is a young man that starts as a junior page before rising to be a member of the nobility. On the way, he learns military strategy and tactics, fights and wins a number of key battles, and becomes a trusted advisor to the future king Harold Godwinson. The book covers many of the campaigns fought by Harold in the years before he became King of England and the last few battles that preceded the invasion and conquest of mainland Britain by Duke William of Normandy.

The descriptions clearly show where the authors sympathies lie; the Saxons are shown in a slightly more noble light than perhaps they deserved. There are really good insights into the politics of the day and the differences in the way that the various countries were ruled. There is a lengthy section on the events that lead to Harold being captured by the Normans and how William used this to extract an oath from Harold to support William in the future. This of course was part of the Duke's claim of right of accession to the throne of England.

The action is well paced, and the book is very readable. If you have an interest in political, social or military history, you will find this of value in providing some key details of the time. If you like stories of adventure, it should be one that you will enjoy. Suitable for most ages, and well worth downloading to your Kindle.
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on 11 September 2011
The other reviewers have explained the story more eloquently than I could. So I will just support them in saying it is an excellent book with a great story, and better still a great insight into a bit of history that was kept short when I was at school (long time ago now)let alone in the present day. So apart from the story about the main character Wulf you get a good understanding of the timeline involved around the norman conquest.

And considering this book is free there is no reason not to try it out. Or if you have a guilty conscience then it is also listed as three pounds something elsewhere in kindle should you wish.

Hope this helps
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on 10 June 2011
GA gets the balance right here between actual history and the story telling. The book tracks the progress of the Thane of Steyning and Harold etc and the events around 1066.

Unlike some of his other books, the story does not get submerged in historical fact but there is still plenty of history here that appears to be correct. The French definitely have very different ideas about the events though so who knows what the truth really is?

(According to the French, Harold reneged on the arrangement for William to become king of England. The comments at the Bayeaux tapestry exhibition are rather rude to poor old Harold - but GA makes him out to be quite saintly).
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on 24 January 2012
i found this book quite enchanting, it took me back to school. g a henty could easily have been a teacher. there is no heavy sub plotting, no subtle nuances just good honest writing that mostly moves at an enjoyable fulsome pace. it is a product of its time. no gratuitous bloodletting or sexual frissons with someone elses partner. i would sum the book up thus-simple, enjoyable, easy to read on a quiet sunday when it's raining outside.
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on 8 February 2015
Well recommended to all students of English history whose knowledge of Saxon and Norman times may be limited to dry dates. This book puts flesh onto the bones in the form of an old-fashioned gripping yarn written by an author who understands the motives of men and has researched the period thoroughly.
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on 22 March 2013
Great book. Hadn't considered the invasion since school days and this just brought it all back. Don't know why film makers haven't considered this? One of the most important periods of our time. And its free. Never heard of Henty, but will deffo consider others of his.
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on 22 January 2013
Bought as a book to be read by our 11 year old son for his book review homework.

However he is finding it very difficult to read despite being for his age group and a little older.

He is persevering but using his online dictonary lots. Hardwork :(
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on 21 November 2014
Riviting colourful exciting battle scenes. Great story and narrating loved the real history mixed within. G.A.Henty has created a masterpiece here need more of this like he should carry onto middle ages if possible .More please will wait eagerly.
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on 15 May 2014
Too easy to guess the outcome. It was still enjoyable for all that. Good references and overall conveyed the period. I did feel the characters were a bit black and white. The hero was too goody goody by half for the period.
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