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4.0 out of 5 stars King Harold Lives, 5 Feb. 2009
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This review is from: Lord of Sunset (Paperback)
This is essentially the story of Harold, who was king of England at the time of the Norman Conquest. The story is told in first-person narrative (which is unusual for Godwin, and takes a bit of getting used to) from the points of view of about twenty characters. It begins at the end of the Battle of Hastings, then flashes back to when Harold was a young man, one of the sons of the Earl of Wessex. The story centres around his love for his wife Edith against a backdrop of political machinations and battles with rebellious nobles, and follows his rise from earl to king, eventually leading back to that fateful day at Hastings. I actually found the first hundred or so pages of it (out of 466) fairly dull, which is why I cannot give the book full marks, but then after Harold's wedding the story starts to come to life, and Godwin's trademark of getting into the heads of long-dead people comes to the fore. I doubt that any storyteller or historian has ever given the lives of Harold and the other characters such a sense of realism and humanity as he achieves in this book. A nice touch is the periodic appearance of Aelred of Denby, a character from Godwin's novel 'Sherwood', giving some continuity with this. The title `Lord of Sunset' is rather obscure, and never explained, but I suppose that day in 1066 would represent the sunset of Anglo-Saxon England and its way of life.
Before reading this book I knew very little about Harold's life. Now I feel that I know the man. All right - I know that much of what Godwin writes has to be imagined, but who cares - for all we know most of it could be true. Harold and the others could have been whispering from the spirit world into Godwin's ear as he wrote. In this book Godwin has done what he always does, and what he does better than anyone; bring characters from the pages of history to life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good work of historical fiction, 1 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Lord of Sunset (Paperback)
Following the Battle of Hastings, William of Normandy turns to Lady Edith, the handfast wife of his enemy Harold of Wessex, to show him the corpse of her beloved. Edith looks back over her two decades of her common law marriage to Harold.
Harold was the second son of one of the more powerful nobles. He was extremely loyal to his father, family, and King Edward. However, Harold's goal was to unite the divided Saxon lords under one ruler. Harold fell in love with Edith, but due to Church law could not marry her except with the old rite of handfasting. They were a team for the next two decades as he reluctantly rose in power. They jointly raised a family together and ultimately claimed the throne of England. They were together on the battlefield when William completes his destiny. In defeat, Harold's dream of a unified England comes true.
LORD OF SUNSET is an intriguing narrating of the legendary but true love song of Harold and Edith. The exciting story line is told mostly by Edith's perspective as she looks back over her life with her beloved Harold. This writing technique works quite well for this novel as it provides the reader with a flavor of the period and demonstrates the story telling talent of Parke Godwin. However, the book turns a bit eerie when a dead character speaks of his life. Still, anyone who enjoys a historical novel that humanizes myths should try Mr. Godwin's books (this one and his Robin Hood tales -SHERWOOD and ROBIN AND THE KING) because they are terrific.

Harriet Klausner
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4.0 out of 5 stars Parke Godwin is tops in historical fiction., 7 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Lord of Sunset (Paperback)
Godwin breathes life into the real-life legend of King Harold of England and his common-law wife, Lady Edith of Nazeing. Harold of Wessex served his father, his family, and the Crown with his vision of a unified England. Both an antagonist of King Edward, who married Harold's sister Eagdytha, and later his strongest supporter, Harold worked towards uniting the lords. As Harold gains power and prestige, one woman stands beside him, his beloved Edith. Forbidden to marry by Church laws, Harold and Edith are married in a civil ceremony which begins twenty years of life together. Twenty years which are threatened by the crowning of Harold after Edward's death, and by the rise of William the Conqueror. On that fateful day at Hastings in 1066, Harold and Edith stand together. Godwin's powerful descriptions allow two legendary lovers to live as normal human beings swept up in the struggles of their times. The background and the relationships are realistic, and after reading this book, you will believe his version. _Lord of Sunset_ is a prequel, without fantasy elements, to _Sherwood_ and _Robin and the King_.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Typically wonderful Godwin storytelling, 11 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Lord of Sunset (Paperback)
Parke Godwin understands the human soul and psyche, and he reveals his insight to us in prose that is sometimes heartbreakingly lyrical and sometimes brutally basic. He tends to choose as his subjects characters which are larger than life -- LORD OF SUNSET is no exception -- and as ever, he is more than equal to the challenge. He has a superb sense of time and place, and renders his historical detail smoothly. He is a careful crafter of character, story, setting and detail who makes every sentence a joy. I've read every one of his books, and have never been disappointed.
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Lord of Sunset
Lord of Sunset by Parke Godwin (Mass Market Paperback - 31 Dec. 1998)
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