St. Martin's, Apr 2003, 6.99, 512 pp.
In 1067, William the Conqueror has become the King of England and Normandy. To secure his hard-earned throne, he holds hostage many local nobles including the Earl Waltheof Siwardsson of Huntingdon, who remains a noble because he did not fight at Hastings. Shockingly, Waltheof finds he desires William's Norman niece, Judith and even more surprisingly they make a match of it even while treachery lurks behind every niche and cranny.
Two decades later, loyalty has become even more complex as William recently died and his two kingdoms divided between his older sons. Many of the Conqueror's followers believe that the middle son should have received nothing instead of sitting on the Normandy throne. Waltheof's oldest daughter, Matilda marries her father's former squire Simon de Senlis. Matilda and Simon want to live and love in peace, but once again treachery and shifting alliances make life as dangerous if not more so than when her father was an English hostage in a Norman court.
Though the story of William and his sons have been told numerous times few efforts match the thrilling saga provided by Elizabeth Chadwick. The story line focuses on people wanting peace and love yet caught up in an age of immense chaos and turmoil fostered by treachery, hatred and betrayal. Real people and recorded information of the period provide fans with an exciting historical novel that is probably as much factual as fictional, all elements interwoven into a cohesive delightful tale that William readers will cherish.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner