Review: Hereward – James Wilde

Series: Hereward 1

My version: Hardback
Genre: Historical Fiction, Hereward, 1066, the Norman conquest
Transworld Publishers
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9780553825169
Pages: 480

From the cover:
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 brilliant warrior, to others a devil in human form, Hereward is as adept in the art of slaughter as the enemies that gather to claim England’s throne. But in his country’s hour of greatest need, he has been declared an 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 mis-matched allies: Hereward the man of war, and Alric, a monk and a man of peace. One will risk everything to save the land he loves, the other to save his friend’s soul…

Superb. Nothing less.

Hereward gripped me and held me at sword-point from page one.

(That was my attempt at writing something they might want to use on a future Hereward book jacket).

I can’t remember being so impressed by a historical novel for a long, long time. It really is that good.

Set in an interesting and – for me, at least – under discovered period; the years just before and just after the Norman invasion of 1066. We’re in the death-throws of the Viking period, the old, ‘real’ England is struggling to come through and (re-) establish itself and (in this novel) the Normans are a dark and brooding presence who everyone knows are just waiting to strike.

Hereward is caught up in the maelstrom of Viking mercenaries, shifting alliances, half-truths and general jostling for position at what passes for the English Court. After being in the wrong place at the wrong time and hearing something he definitely shouldn’t, is forced to flee north where he might find some safety and sanctuary. From there, he goes on to meet old adversaries, confront old ghosts, make new enemies and make progress towards finding out about his past. He returns to The Fens and begins to form and lead the English resistance to the Normans’ seemingly un-stoppable dominance.

This has everything you could want in a historical novel; fighting, tension, fighting, suspense, fighting, love, fighting, intrigue – and fighting. I’ve seen that there is a number two ready for me to get to grips with, and I will be doing so as soon as possible.

Oh, and he’s man of Mercia, like me.

You can buy Hereward from The Book Depository

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

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