- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Abacus (26 April 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0349123373
- ISBN-13: 978-0349123370
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Shieldwall Paperback – 26 Apr 2012
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Written in supple, intelligent prose . . . Shieldwall is a vivid historical novel . . . Entirely convincing (Nick Rennison Sunday Times)
Inspired . . . With wonderful, poetic passages, Hill reaches beyond the limits of the genre and . . . harks back to the halls of our Saxon forebears in those dark days (Ian Mortimer Guardian)
Exciting, gripping and imaginative (Kate Saunders The Times)
Truly compelling (Sunday Times)
Hill's sense of place, landscape and home is really good. His particular discovery is how he makes his characters' internal lives. I shall be waiting for the next novel in the trilogy (Observer)
* A superbly evocative novel that was published to critical acclain, which chronicles the momentous events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
I cannot wait for his next historical novel - I do hope he supplies us with one soon!
The main character is somewhat original. Instead of the "usual" novels on the Great Army or King Alfred, on the one hand, and all the stuff on Harold Godwinson, 1066 and all that, this book is about the younger years of his father - Godwin Wulfnothson, under King Ethelread and Edmund "Ironside".
It is also very well researched and well documented with the author "sticking" to historical facts as much as he can and telling a plausible story where there are no facts - such as the role of Wulfnoth and his exile in Dublin, of which we know next to nothing.
One disappointment, however, was that Justin Hill seemed less interested in telling the story of Godwin's service to Knut. A pity because this is itself could have made a good story. Perhaps he is saving it for his second tome which I will most certainly buy.
After reading Julian Rathbone's The Last English King, I became very interested in historical fiction and have enjoyed many fine novels (Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden etc.)
Unfortunately, I have found some diminishing returns in recent years and, all too often, have failed to finish books due to clunky writing, poor story-telling and other perceived faults (maybe I'm just getting fussy in middle-age).
However, Shieldwall has had a similar impact to The Last English King. The writing is beautiful and the characters are entirely believable. I've just got to the first battle scene and it was as exciting (and upsetting) a depiction of combat as I've ever read. Somebody died (I won't say who) and it felt like it hit me as hard as the arrow hit the character.
I understand there will be a sequel. Thank goodness as I don't want this book to end.
There’s a lot on the historic record about Godwin, mostly about his adult life. We know he was an Anglo-Saxon magnate of extraordinary wealth and power, right-hand man in England to King Knut the Great, the Danish King of Denmark, Norway and England. We know he was over-endowed with sons who proved troublesome even by C11th standards. We know he came from relatively humble beginnings, a thegn’s son, and was a pubescent hostage in the court of King Ethelred the Unrede, who exiled Godwin’s father.
History however is written by the winners, and three of Godwin’s sons, including King Harold, were killed at the Battle of Hastings when Duke William of Normandy won his nomenclature William the Conqueror. Understandably, chroniclers in the Anglo-Norman period were not kind to Godwin, damning his and his dynasty’s ambition. About how Godwin rose to such heights in the first instance, gaining Knut’s trust, we know little, although we can surmise he was indeed ambitious. Given the violent and uncertain politics of the period, he was also almost certainly outstandingly able, intelligent, and brave. He very likely demonstrated qualities Anglo-Saxons admired and respected: a war-leader, a man of his word, loyal to his king, a just man (within the understandings of ‘justice’ of the time).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the most enlightening historical novels I've read, packed with adventure, intrigue and insight; all woven against an understanding of this period that for me, is... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mike & Hilary Bradley
This is a well written book, in the style of cornwell. The characters are well formed and the storyline goodPublished 5 months ago by Wendie Emery
"Wordplay": Hill's use of vocabulary throughout this epic narrative is brilliant, the cement that brings this dark and unfamiliar world together. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Bernard H.
I'm only mid-way through the book, but enjoying it enough to leave an early review. I love fast paced historical fiction with detail and grit, this novel offers both aplenty! Read morePublished 6 months ago by Martin Rea
Justin Hill has stayed true to himself and the historical context in the writing of this great account of pre-conquest England. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer