Top positive review
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Brilliant mix of fact and fiction
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.