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100
3.4 out of 5 stars
Conquest (Making of England Book 1)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I got about as far as where the new age hippy is lecturing the pope before I fell asleep. You don't need Mogadon with this book, folks!
Hereward, one of the great heroes of England, is portrayed as Conan the Barbarian, but the book isn't as well written or as much fun as the Conan stories.
Basically Mr Binns has sexed up Kingsley's Hereward the Wake novel from the 19th century - lashings of ultra-violence and a bit of the old in out, but he can't write as well. I bet in a 100 years time you'll still be able to get hold of Charles Kingsley's works but I doubt very much that you'll be able to find this one.
And why is it boring, turgid books like this are always about two inches thick?
Granted, nothing much is known about Hereward, but we know a fair bit about the period in general. Did they really have massive double-headed battleaxes in the 11th Century, and did Welsh warriors (who were Christians a long time before the Anglo-Saxons) really carry the severed heads of their enemies on their saddles? I might be wrong but I thought that was something that happened hundreds of years before.
No offence to Mr Binns - we've all got to make a living, and no offence to those that enjoyed this book, and I'm sure in other respects they adjust well to life - but I didn't like this book although I'm interested in this period of history. I don't think it's very well written and it didn't hold my attention.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2011
This book was a bitter disappointment and such a wasted opportunity. I scarcely know how to unravel this quagmire, but will endeavour to explain as succinctly as possible.

On reflection, I think that this book has three main structural flaws:

1) An overambitious plot.
2) Poorly constructed characters with terrible dialogue.
3) Completely farcical scenes, where credibility was scarce.

Hereward is the main protagonist and is introduced to us as a wastrel as a very young man. Banished by the king, he cleans his act up and then embarks on a series of journeys and adventures which span the length and breadth of Europe. He meets every famous warrior king along the way, picks up a wife and a band of companions and is involved in the Battle of Hastings and the English rebellion thereafter.

The book starts well and shows initial signs of promise but swiftly dives from that point onwards. The inclusion of frequent mindboggling events really stretches the book's credibility almost to the point where I felt embarrassed for the author.

Let me include a few snippets of the delights awaiting you:

< An inexperienced boy advising a seasoned battle hardened king on military tactics and then proceeding to train his warriors.

< An endless fascination with blood, heritage and culture; all completely cringe-worthy and oh so politically correct!

< Battle scenes and one to one combat where Hereward slays everyone, regardless of his initial inexperience.

< Torfida, a young women who willingly leaves a safe nunnery and gives herself to a complete stranger.

< Hereward who appears at noble courts all over Europe and demands a position as a knight and trainer of warriors.

< Priceless weaponry given to Hereward on a mystical whim.

<The endless descriptions of "The Talisman", a `Lord of the Rings' like amulet that commands destinies.

< The completely atrocious scene in which Torfida attempts to educate the pope and his two most senior cardinals. (This scene has to be the worst in the book and one of the poorest that I have ever read).

< Torfida when she is struck by lightning.

Needless to say, there are a number of extremely poor scenes. And when the characters begin to speak to each other, you feel as if you should be watching an English Heritage television advert. This is a book written through rose tinted glasses where the author held an English rose in one hand whilst writing with the other so that he didn't forget who he was.

Every now and again, there was a flash of brilliance; however, this was soon overshadowed by the tripe that was the main body of the book. With such giants in this genre, don't give this book your time, you'd be wasting it.

Very poor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2014
There are a lot of extreme reviews on this book, either 1 or 4 stars. I enjoyed it but compared to say Bernard Cornwells Uhtred novels, its very poor by comparison. The writing style is difficult to get used to, and makes it very difficult to empathise with the characters, you never really get to care about them as much as you would in a more well written novel. If you enjoy historical novels around warfare then you will probably enjoy this like I did. Otherwise, avoid.
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on 4 September 2013
Not a bad book. A good subject with some good characters. The only problem is the main character. The biggest, strongest, fastest, cleverest, most charismatic, most influential person ever in the history of mankind. A man who can walk into an army camp, walk right up to the king without being challenged and say to the king "I'm brilliant and will train your army. To which the kings all reply: "Oh, thank you man who I have never heard of before please show my men what to do!!! Then I'll give you whatever you wish!!!"
His character is portrayed more as a fantasy hero than a real man as he constantly takes on and beats all comers with ease and contempt, be them single or multiple attackers. If the author had only toned down his invincibility factor then it would have been a much easier story to swallow but unfortunately Hereward ruins his own story.
Don't think I will be reading the other books in this series but will give James Wildes take on the subject a go.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2011
If you are reading these reviews and thinking of purchasing this novel, then please don't be put off by the few negative one star reviews. This story may not be 100% historically accurate, but then neither is our understanding of the time during which it is set. I thought that the Prologue was very whimsical and lacked credulity, but was an interesting way to narrate the story. Likewise, the Epilogue tied things off neatly along with the Postscript. What is important is the fact that the battle scenes and descriptions of the Norman conquest and colonization of England are very believable and moving. Hereward's character and attributes have almost certainly been exaggerated in this account in order to really punch home his exploits and life to the reader, but to be honest I didn't really mind this. I like my historical fiction to be bold and heroic, and this certainly is that. Hereward then and now enjoys a myth like status and there is something very mythical in the way this book has been written. For a debut novel this book is very impressive, not quite as good as Bernard Cornwell's Alfred the Great series, nor up to Elizabeth Chadwick's standard, but certainly not that far off. I bought this book rather than borrowing it from my local library, and after reading it would happily buy another novel by him, and that is as good a recommendation as anyone can really give.
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on 7 October 2014
Having just finished a number of Conn Iggulden novels, i naturally ventured to this. After reading Conn's well written books, I think I spoiled myself. I was attracted too by a reviewer comparing this to Cornwell but unfortunately I don't see the connection. The storyline is charming but very simply worded as if for a young reader. I don't feel I get some of the characters who suddenly seem to develop in leaps and bounds. I enjoy historical fiction but I think Stewart seems to have dumbed things down a bit too much.
It is a pleasant read but I'm happy to put it down as it gets a bit boring in that the story jumps so much (if that makes sense?). I will stick with it and possibly try another but I not as struck on it as other writers in this genre.
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on 16 December 2014
I really loved this book. I was held spellbound as I read about the events leading to and during the Battle of Hastings. Having never heard of Hereward before, I was fascinated and triumphant to find that we had a real hero in our Anglo Saxon past. Not enough is known about this man - I did not know what was fact and what was fictionally weaved in to lend substance to the story. I suspended disbelief as I know, from other historical events, that seemingly miraculous events can occur - reference John Marshall and Henry V @ Agincourt. Fabulous read. The only thing I would have liked would have been an Author's note, as per Sharon Penman, where she discusses her research and what bits she made up and why.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
Apart from the already known historical facts of these times I assume artistic license was used as far as the story of Hereward goes- but hey it's a damn good story and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2011
Reading Conquest was a mix of emotions, the plot pace and characterisations are very much like Bernard Cornwell, in fact it put me in mind of his Arthurian series. The book leads you on a journey of action and adventure as well as education of the time period, but on a note of caution the facts are well blended with many flights of fanciful fiction to make the plot as strong and pacey as it is.
Reading the book makes any Englishman feel proud of his heritage, but also gives you an insight into how our character what makes us English was formed over many years and through many cultures, without these trials and cultures there would have been no empire, no Victorian era, no resistance on WW1 and no stubborn refusal to hold out against the Nazis, the many adventurers explorers and the indomitable spirit may never have existed. that's the biggest thing I took from the book.

Every character in this book is well rounded well written and someone the reader can bond with very quickly, i read this book in a single sitting and it was the perfect way to read it.
(Parm)
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 25 March 2011
I was sadly disappointed by this gung-ho mish-mash of a novel, but in a way feel the writer deserves some sort of acclaim for being able to turn such an interesting story into such a tedious mess. The author's past as a schoolteacher and something at the BBC weigh heavily on this turgid tome and the reader sometimes has the feeling that the text is a draft for a dramadoc, where the earnest academic explains the situation to camera (several pages of children's textbook explanations) and then the screen is suddenly peopled by Dark Age re-enactors doing Hastings at the weekend.

The writing style is ponderous and reminds me of old children's books published in the 30s and 40s extolling the virtues of Englishness. The dialogue is consequently stilted and mostly explanatory. Hereward bears more of a resemblence to Conan the Barbarian than a historical character. He wins everyone's respect and love by beating the King's champion and then teaching whoever it is how to fight properly. He is the only oen to be able to wield the mighty axe of Göteborg (I think) which someone has been kindly carrying with them for years on the off chance of meeting a mighty thewed hero who could pick it up in one hand to the gasps of amazed onlookers.

In the manner of an Anglo-Saxon Dr Who he whirls round Europe with his companions, popping into courts here and there, chatting with the Pope (or rather letting his wife point out one or two things to the pontiff as another reviewer has mentioned) and generally checking that things are as they should be. Once sure that no-one is doing anything they shouldn't he heads off on his next adventure and drearily goes throguh the same procedure of winning people's trust. I particularly enjoyed Torfida chatting with Edward the Confessor about her accomplishments - she simply forgets to mention which top school she went to and how many starred A-levels she picked up before heading off to an Oxbridge college (oops, of course they hadn't been invented or founded in 1063!- but you can easily forget that when reading some of the dialogue).

And why the ridiculous Talisman thread? In the time-honoured way of fantasy novels, we have a secret (maybe evil? the devil is supposedly trapped inside)talimsan that is passed down into the right hands throughout history. Luckily Torfida's father gave it to her to pass on to Hereward because he knew they'd meet and get married and do their best to save England.

I think you get the picture. Basically with some severe editing this could have served as a children's primer on Anglo-Saxon history but as an adult novel it fails on almost every level. Let's hope the rumours of a trilogy are simply rumours.
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