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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking Debut
With a huge amount of historical fiction titles currently being set around the 1066 mark, an author has to find something new to bring to the mix in order to generate memorable characters as well giving the reader a plot to keep them not only engrossed but thrilled and entertained throughout. Such is the volume of these titles to date that it's a wonder that none of the...
Published on 21 Jun 2011 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Super-Killer and the Arch-Villains?
I am a bit surprised at the number of reviewers on Amazon.co.uk that profess to have never heard of Hereward, especially those that seem to be fans of historical fiction. Hereward may not be part of history lessons at school. However, there are least four other novels out there on Amazon, in addition to Charles Kingsley's take that dates back to 1865. So, James Wilde's...
Published on 18 Aug 2012 by JPS


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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking Debut, 21 Jun 2011
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
With a huge amount of historical fiction titles currently being set around the 1066 mark, an author has to find something new to bring to the mix in order to generate memorable characters as well giving the reader a plot to keep them not only engrossed but thrilled and entertained throughout. Such is the volume of these titles to date that it's a wonder that none of the characters have charged headlong into each other on the battlefield.

Currently in this muddied and historically rich period James Wilde strides with his debut title which takes the reader onto the battlefield with Hereward which, is a tale for the modern audience with a tip of the hat and homage to the 1963 Victor Comic (Hereward the Wake, Saxon Chief) as well as Charles Kingsley's Hereward the Wake published in 1865. Whilst the title is all of the authors devising it's one that will thrill the modern audience from its hard-line bloodthirsty opening that sets the tone of the story (which incidentally has a very Gemmellesque feeling due to its Waylander type opening.)

All in the story moves at a wonderful pace, the combat is clearly thought out and with Howardesque touches, great swathes of bloodletting and overall kickass arc; it's a title that for a debut will make one hell of an impact to the Historical Fiction audience which makes Wilde an author to keep an eye on and one to pick up now prior to the hype and for me would have been ideal holiday reading and if you happy to be in Hereward country one that would generate an exploration of the surrounding area in closer detail. Great stuff.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original outlaw, 22 Aug 2011
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
There are periods of English history I am ashamed to say I have had to learn through fact based fiction. So thank you to the likes of Bernard Cornwell and now James Wilde.

I had never heard of Hereward, but he did exist and fought against the Normans after their invasion of 1066. In many ways he reminded me of Robin Hood, but his existence is fact compared to the legend of Robin Hood, in addition to preceding him by 150 years.

We see Hereward as a young man forced to leave the emerging English court because of his unruly behaviour and then allegations of murder. His character is wild, intense and unpredictable (reminded me of the sort of character then late, great David Gemmell produced) with a dark side kept barely in check. Hooking up with a young priest, also on the run, Hereward is struggling to discover a goal and self value, but once the Normans invade, he sees his duty to defend England against the Norman tyranny.

The Normans occupied England (not Scotland or Wales) and pretty much dominated it all, Hereward was based in the Isle of Ely and the Fens, an inhospitable area that the Normans struggled to gain control over. The original outlaw he ran a running campaign against the Normans. This book deals with his early years from exile to the start of his campaign against the Normans and it is interesting, page turning stuff.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut, 28 Jun 2011
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
There have been a fair few novels set around this period of history lately, some have met mixed reviews. It really depends on what you are looking for from a historical fiction book?
EG: Conquest by Stewart Binns is a rousing tale that roars along with loads of blood and thunder action and has a heavy tilt towards nationality. While Shieldwall by Justin Hill is a slower more historically rich title that really educates the reader.

Hereward for me falls somewhere in-between, it has a fair bit of historical detail (i cant vouch for the accuracy its not my area of expertise) and also lashings of action. As another reviewer (Gareth) has written there is a very Gemmellesque flavour to certain scenes and also characters, and there is in my opinion no higher accolade for a writer.
This is a great book and the fact that its a debut title means that we potentially have great things to come from this writer.

Highly recommended (Parm)

Product Description (From the back of the book)
1062, a time many fear is the End of Days. With the English King Edward heirless and ailing, across the grey seas in Normandy the brutal William the Bastard waits for the moment when he can drown England in a tide of blood.

The ravens of war are gathering. But as the king's closest advisors scheme and squabble amongst themselves, hopes of resisting the naked ambition of the Norman duke come to rest with just one man: Hereward...

To some a ruthless warrior and master tactician, to others a devil in human form, Hereward is as adept in the art of slaughter as the foes that gather to claim England's throne. But in his country's hour of greatest need, his enemies at Court have made him outlaw. To stay alive - and a freeman - he must carve a bloody swathe from the frozen hills of Northumbria to Flanders' fields and the fenlands of East Anglia.

The tale of a man whose deeds will become the stuff of legend, this is also the story of two mismatched allies: Hereward the man of war, and Alric, a man of peace, a monk. One will risk everything to save the land he loves, the other to save his friend's soul...

James Wilde's thrilling, action-packed debut rescues a great English hero from the darkest of times and brings him to brutal and bloody life.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hereward!, 12 July 2011
By 
Je Salter (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the start. James Wilde doesn't mess about setting the scene by going into over indulgent passages about where the characters are instead from page one the action starts and there's rarely a pause. It isn't all clashing swords however, as he has created some wonderful characters especially Hereward who is interwoven with the people around him.

The story starts a few years before the events of 1066 and Mr Wilde sets the overall historical context brilliantly as Hereward is forced to fight for justice against the people and organisations who have tried to ruin his life. The book is packed full of superb characterisations and fight scenes that really have you wanting the main character to take vengeance on the bad guys.

Herward is a fantastic debut novel about a character I knew nothing about. It's a great read and I look forward to book two, easily worth five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Super-Killer and the Arch-Villains?, 18 Aug 2012
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I am a bit surprised at the number of reviewers on Amazon.co.uk that profess to have never heard of Hereward, especially those that seem to be fans of historical fiction. Hereward may not be part of history lessons at school. However, there are least four other novels out there on Amazon, in addition to Charles Kingsley's take that dates back to 1865. So, James Wilde's first novel is hardly on an unknown and original topic.

Then there is the characterisation. A number of reviewers have portrayed it as excellent with one going so far as to state that it had a "very gemmellesque feeling" (waylander) and "with "howardesque touches" (Conan the Barbarian). In plain English, at times you feel you are reading heroic fantasy, as opposed to the historical fiction you were expecting. In particular, the beginning scenes are indeed "action packed", but this is stereotyped action, Rambo style as others could not help noticing, during which the Super-Killer Hereward puts down single handed (with his sword in one hand, however!) and with buckets of blood and gore all the "nasties" and a whole pack of wolves. Then, in the middle of winter with snow underfoot and the blizzard howling, our wounded Super-Killer and the companion that he has reluctantly picked up walk to York which they reach after ten days as fresh as roses! Needless to say, this is quite unbelievable and is obviously not at all what I expected from a good piece of historical fiction. The other characters, while perhaps not perfect, are much easier to accept. Interestingly, you do not see much of the Normans in this episode, although they are, of course, the main "Arch-villains" (but they are quite a few others, suitably "nasty")

Having said that, it does get better and there are some significant strong points, but the author's intention to start his book with a "big bang" failed miserably as far as I am concerned, simply because he overdid it so much. So, to be a bit more constructive, here are the good points:

- The book is remarkably well-researched - much better researched than quite a few of its competitors - although there are one or two howlers that other reviewers have mentioned
- One of the strongest points is the depiction of the politics in the Kingdom of England at the end of the reign of Edward the Confessor, showing, in particular, that there was little love lost between Harold and his brothers, and Edwin Earl of Mercia, and his brother Morcar

- Then there are the battles - Stamford Bridge and Hastings (we do not hear anything about Fulford). Here, I was a bit surprised that other reviewers found that there was too little on them. This is a bit unfair because the book is about Hereward who did not take place in either of them. Anyway, it worked fine for me: I have read so many accounts of Hastings and almost as many of Stanford Bridge that I found it a relief to find these ones so short

- Another great point is the depiction of the fens where the author has also done his homework and were he does manage to convey a credible atmosphere of dampness, darkness etc... that you could expect to find in a good thriller

- There is originality in the story, with the character of Harold Godwinsson being the most prominent example. Instead of the usual glorious and noble hero fighting to protect the country against the "nasty" invaders, we get a power crazy character hungry to become King. On balance, and given the history of the Godwinssons and of their father, the latter is more realistic, although, there again, James Wilde tends to overdo it. However, Harold was not the "nice" romantic hero that he has been made out to be. He was a warlord and could be just as cruel as William. His expedition to Wales, just before becoming King, gave him some much needed military legitimacy to back his claim to the throne but it was probably just as destructive as William's destruction of the North a few years later, although on a smaller scale.

Three stars for this rather mixed first but valuable effort.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hereward - Historical Hero, 23 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
When you are only a handful of pages into a novel and the title character is already running about naked - in the depths of winter - dispatching Vikings left, right and centre, I think you can rest assured that the novel you are embarking on is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

Hereward, the character, is a man of extremes. He is loyal, single minded and driven. He is also violent and dangerous, yet there is a constant internal struggle as he tries to keep his inner demons in check. When the novel begins, his first answer to any situation is "who do I have to kill to solve this". As the novel continues, his character matures and he comes to realise that violence is not always the way. It's nice to see a character question his own motives rather than just continue to blindly follow them. He becomes quite introspective and through this the reader gets insight into what actions and events made him the way he is.

Alric, the monk, is the stabilizing force in Hereward's life. They meet under difficult circumstances, and initially there is suspicion on both sides, but as their friendship deepens a strong bond forms. They rely on one another for support. Alric sees it as his mission in life to try and guide Hereward on a righteous path. Needless to say, this could well be the toughest job in the world.

The second half of the eleventh century makes for a fertile setting. Most of Europe is a political powder-keg as various tyrants attempt to grab as much power and land as is possible. Other historical figures like Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror feature prominently. The story includes the run up to, and aftermath of, the Battle of Hastings which is a definite highlight of the narrative. I particularly enjoyed reading about King Harold's grizzly end.

I'll be honest and admit that prior to reading this novel I had never heard of Hereward, but I'm Scottish so I think I can be forgiven. He is certainly not as well known as his more famous contemporary Robin Hood. This is a real shame as there certainly appears to be more evidence of Hereward's existence than Hood's. Hereward's campaign of guerrilla warfare against the occupying Norman forces has its basis in historical fact and I think this makes the novel all the more entertaining.

The only criticism I have, and it is a small one, is that the novel feels a little bit like it is a prologue to a much larger story. Just at the point where I was completely engrossed in the main protagonist's journey the novel ended. In fairness, thinking about it, I suppose that the best fiction should work this way to a degree. It draws you in, takes you to places you have never been before and leaves you hungry for more. Put it this way, if there is not a sequel to Hereward then there is no justice in the world and there is a good chance that I will be forced to go on a rampage of my own.

Overall, James Wilde's début novel is fantastically realised. There are strong, believable characters, lashings of fast paced action but this is matched by some excellent intrigue and betrayal that helps to keep the plot moving forward. Hereward is a great example of the historical fiction genre. I recommend it highly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Wilde, 23 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
A new author to me, book is very well written, easy reading and thoroughly researched. the cliff hanger ending makes for an eagerly waited sequel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Redteeth, 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
Great, so we have a new cub in the yard.Scything its way through the shield wall of scribblers. This writer exploits a green root of history and nurtures a hero in the fine tradition of all barbarians.
Hereward is a very fine page turner by the blue tinged fist of James Wilde.
With my gold arm rings restraining my bulging biceps I thumbed through this wonderful debut. Trying a new name can be a stumble into the flooded fens of England or Engerlund as it was then.But no my feet fall on firm turf.

But I was seduced by the excellent cover which instantly fevered my imagination. I love the characters and they compliment each other well.

I have often wondered what guerrilla tactics were afoot after the "Bastard" stamped across this sceptered isle in his iron clad boots. The feeling of unremitting cold is well captured. It is warming that we fought them on the beeches in the streets and in the hills. What rearguard action engineered by this Mercian warrior must have dealt is only a whisper in time.

Feel secure in your read.I want the sequel right now.I mean now!...aggh my head is pulsing the drum of hatred beats. My sword of sleep..Brain-feeder it hungers.. she fills my hand.Stand back for the love of England stand back!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comparison, 5 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Hereward (Hardcover)
the book gave a very detailed if slightly embellished version of the life of Herward the Wake. A much more interesting story than Robin Hood, but very much overlooked in school history lessons.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adding this author to my favourites list - great debut., 12 July 2011
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Everything I had wished to say has already been added in the many other glowing reviews. I just wanted to include my 5 star rating to an already well received debut.

This book starts 'feet running' and keeps the tension all the way through. Great characters, historical settings, vicious yet satisfying battle and fight scenes, and more twists than an Italian country road. I really really enjoyed this book and can recommend it easily. Good show Mr Wilde.
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Hereward (Hereward 1) by James Wilde (Paperback - 29 Mar 2012)
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