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How a nobody won a Kingdom,
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This review is from: The Conqueror (Paperback)
Heyer is of course best known for her Regency romances such as Frederica, Cotillion, The Grand Sophy and more. However, as well as writing several detective stories set in the early 20th century she also wrote some historicals away from the Regency and Georgian periods that she made her own. 'The Conqueror' is one of these, the story of William the Conqueror who became the King of England after the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
It's interesting reading the story with a positive view of the Norman Conquest when most latent English opinion is possibly rather more on the side of King Harold who was defeated at Hastings. It's part of Heyer's writing skill that enables her to paint a picture of an honourable and fearless man who was able to raise himself up from being an illegitimate nobody to a man worthy of the hand of Matilda, a high-born noblewoman. Heyer adds a fictional character, Raoul de Harcourt, to narrate to us much of the action, which does leave the reader somewhat distanced from William at times. However her mastery of battle scenes, the fact that she usually stays close to historical events in this story, add a great deal to the reader's enjoyment.
Heyer's research into the periods in which she sets her books is well-known and in 'The Conqueror', alongside her other books, it shows. The eleventh century was of course a long time ago and certain aspects of the book, for example its language, mean it's not always an easy read. The pacing is good, however, and although the romance is a relatively minor part of the overall story, it is still well-handled, showing how two fiery and strong people can produce a genuine and deep affection.
'The Conqueror', along with the other historicals such as 'My Lord John', 'Royal Escape', 'Simon The Coldheart' and others, are harder work for the reader than the lighter more popular romances. However their insight into life in some of the dangerous and fierce times in history are well worth experiencing.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008