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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read!
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is so absorbing I found it very hard to put down. The characters are so engaging; the action; thoughts and aspirations so vividly described I was transported. Where are the film makers? This would make a tremendous film or better still, short series!
Published on 4 April 2012 by Netty

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting novel needed better editing
Helen Hollick weaves an interesting and enjoyable tale around the few facts we know from this decisive moment in our history. However, the book is just too long. I also found the characterisation rather one-dimensional.. rather like those movies where all the good guys are American and all the baddies are Brits, except in this case it's the dastardly Normans who are all...
Published on 11 Mar 2002 by ssghayes


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read!, 4 April 2012
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This review is from: Harold the King (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is so absorbing I found it very hard to put down. The characters are so engaging; the action; thoughts and aspirations so vividly described I was transported. Where are the film makers? This would make a tremendous film or better still, short series!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read, so some of the characterisation seemed a bit simplistic, 10 July 2011
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John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harold the King (Kindle Edition)
Despite its title, this novel covers the whole quarter century from just after the accession of King Edward (later called the Confessor) until Harold's short reign culminates at Hastings. The author is a very good describer of landscapes and setting a mood of a place or situation. I am a bit less sure about her handling of characters, many of them come across as being a bit two-dimensional, either wholly positive or wholly negative. She is particularly down on King Edward until he is on his deathbed. But overall an engaging read and the final battle description is excellent.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A BREATH OF THRESH AIR, 20 Nov 2001
This review is from: Harold the King (Hardcover)
This is the first Helen Hollick book i've ever read and as a fan of historical fiction i found this book to be a breath of fresh air.
Writers of historical fiction however good seem to ignore the anglo-saxon period and behave as though England didn't exist before 1066, concentrating instead on the plantagenets (again!) etc. Thus missing out on so many potentially interesting stories and characters.
Helen Hollick remedies this by telling the tragic story of England's last English king with honesty and realism and with multi-dimensional characters that really engage the reader.
I can't recommend this book more highly.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harold, The Last Saxon King with a Conscience, 29 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Harold the King (Hardcover)
This title covers the life of Harold, Earl of East Anglia, Earl of Wessex, King of England, and above all a nobleman with a conscience. He meets Edyth Swannhaels and falls in love with the young women. Not prominent enough in status, Edyth becomes Harold's "common wife or handfasted wife" which is not recognized by the church as a legal, binding marriage. Throughout their lives their love and loyalty remain strong even though Edyth knows that someday he must take a "formal wife."
In addition, Harold must deal with a weak King Edward, and obnoxious, traitorous, treacherous siblings: Swein, Edith and Tostig. Their exploits against their brother are of unbelievable, but true, proportions. Harold must also contend with a brutal, manipulative Duke William of Normandy who tries to bend Harold to his will and ambition for the throne of England. When this backfires in his face, William declares war on Harold "The Usuper" and England at any and all costs.
This book shows a compassionate, caring man who inherits titles from his father and from Edward King of England. Diplomatic and charismatic but without the "win at all costs" personality of William of Normandy. His extremely human treatment of all of those around his proves his worth to have been chosen the last Saxon King in England.
The maps and genealogical information were also a great plus to this substantial but page turning historical!
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turner which chronicles the events from 1040 -1066., 27 Feb 2001
This review is from: Harold the King (Hardcover)
1066. We know how it ends. And despite what we know, as we read this book, Harold the King, we hope that somehow, this time, the ending will change and England's date with destiny will be averted. Helen Hollick has produced a book that draws the reader into the lives of each of the major players in this drama. We see Edward I, Harold, Tostig and Duke William as they maneuver around the coveted throne. Their wives and families come alive for us so that we begin to understand what motivates the men who lead other men into battle for the sake of a crown . I liked the portrayal of Edward I as a confused man who should never have been given a crown and Harold, as the symbol of the Anglo-Saxon way of life which was already being blown about by the storms from the east. Duke William was no surprise as the man consumed with lust for power and Tostig flirting on the sidelines paves the way for William's conquest.
Five stars to Ms Hollick for creating a great read that kept me turning pages - while not wanting to get to the end I knew was there....
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting novel needed better editing, 11 Mar 2002
This review is from: Harold the King (Paperback)
Helen Hollick weaves an interesting and enjoyable tale around the few facts we know from this decisive moment in our history. However, the book is just too long. I also found the characterisation rather one-dimensional.. rather like those movies where all the good guys are American and all the baddies are Brits, except in this case it's the dastardly Normans who are all bad. I can't help thinking that better (more critical) editing would have made for an even stronger book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but huge anticlimax, 14 Jun 2012
This review is from: Harold the King (Paperback)
This is pretty much the first historical novel about this time period I've read and with only a basic knowledge of what took place in this era I was looking forward to getting a story-board-style lesson. Whilst this book was enjoyable and generally well written, the last part of the story is a huge anti-climax. A novel that is essentially about 1066 should build up to the Battle of Hastings and treat that as a the focal point, where all the characters that have been created and built up come to a head and are fulfilled. Unfortunately, the final confrontation is dealt with in roughly 8 pages, with the death of Harold barely covered by half a paragraph. Whilst the book attempts to make Harold to be a great hero, the writer fails to give him a hero's exit.

This is true of all the battle descriptions in the book - large build up, lots about the horses, great detail in small, barely significant encounters between characters, and oh yeah there was this battle, but there was another incident in a church.....
Overall, a good read for the most of it, but needed a better balance between the human characters and the battles which history is built around.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, 14 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Harold the King (Paperback)
Harold II has been much maligned by Norman propaganda that lingers to this day; and so this novel is a refreshing change. Yes I know it's a novel, but the characters and events are true enough. So when you have finished this book, go out and read the formal histories of the time with a new image of England's last English king.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brings the Anglo Saxons to life, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Harold the King (Kindle Edition)
I have really enjoyed this book.
After reading lots of historical crime - Shardlake etc - I was looking for something historical but not necessarily crime. This is a good read. It really brings to life the heroic and dashing Harold (Godwinne) and the conniving and selfish Edward (the Confessor). I would recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing history to life., 28 Sep 2013
This review is from: Harold the King (Kindle Edition)
Helen's books cover vast swathes of emotions. Raw, breathtaking, vivid pictures of things we all touched on in school. If history teachers could breathe life into their lessons like this, we would all be historians.
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Harold the King by Helen Hollick
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