I am delighted to share my review of In the Shadows of Castles by G.K. Holloway. I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series in 2017, the book was 1066: What Fates Impose and it was a fabulous story so I was absolutely delighted when Glyn got in touch to see if I wanted to read the next one.
It’s the 1060s, and William of Normandy is establishing a new and brutal regime in England, but there are those who would defy him. As Norman soldiers spread like a plague across the land, resistance builds, but will it be enough to topple William and restore the rightful king to his throne? The English have the courage to fight, but the Normans, already victorious at Hastings, now build castles seeking to secure their tenuous foothold in these lands.
And what of the people caught up in these catastrophic events? Dispossessed but not defeated, their lives ripped apart, the English struggle for freedom from tyranny; amongst them, caught up in the turmoil, are a soldier, a thane and two sisters. As events unfold, their destinies become intertwined, bringing drastic changes that alter their lives forever.
Firmly embedded in the history of the Conquest, ‘In the Shadows of Castles’ is ultimately a story of love, hope and survival in a time of war.
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This book continues on from 1066: What Fates Impose. I read and adored that book so I was absolutely thrilled to the author had continued the story. With William on the throne, the Normans are brutally and savagely destroying all the English that they come across. Rebels and uprisings are quickly quashed by Williams’s army and the countryside is left like scorched earth. Any food is taken, livestock destroyed, houses burned and people murdered no matter their age.
Having a Frenchman wearing an English crown doesn’t sit well with many. There are obviously some who have lands, estates and money that want to retain their possessions and so they do show some support. William doesn’t only have to deal with the English, he also has to stop the grumbling from within his own ranks, as his people want to go back home to their families.
With the rebels of England, and with the support of the Welsh, Scots and Danes there is bloodshed around most of England. Nowhere is safe, churches do not provide a safe sanctuary anymore as they are destroyed as quickly as they come across. Villages, towns and cities are filled with bloodshed and William is gradually building castles and fortifications where he can to maintain his hold.
With the first book, I adored how the author brought his obvious knowledge of this period of English history to life. I am delighted to see that this still runs true with his latest book. Being able to read a fictionalised story really does bring the past to life, it makes it easier to absorb and remember. No list of dates and people who lived and died, but instead a proper action-packed read from start to finish.
Having a fictionalised account gives the reader a chance to get to know a character, but it does come down to the research and this is where the author really does know his subject. There will be obvious things that may be added or altered, but for me as a general reader, it means I can immerse myself directly into the story.
And what a story this one is!
With England at the start of a new era under the reign of William, the Battle of Hastings is still fresh in the memory. There was a successor named but he was obviously not crowned as William was instead. The country is in turmoil, it is under siege and communication is slow or misunderstood, sometimes deliberately. The author uses four main characters to give a more personal look at lifestyles and what could have happened. Two friends and two sisters are drawn together as they battle their way out of skirmishes, and are hunted, are followed and lied to. There are obviously more characters than this, but while there is a lot the author keeps the action flowing wonderfully as it goes from one group to another, crisis crossing the county.
The whole feel of the book has a wonderful pace to it. It is an action-adventure story, one also of life, death, loyalty and of the future. It is a brilliant read from start to finish and it is one I would definitely recommend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
G. K. Holloway did several jobs after leaving school before taking A Levels at his local college and later a degree in History and Politics at Coventry University. Once he had graduated, he spent the next twenty years working in education in and around Bristol. After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he studied the late Anglo-Saxon era in detail and discovered a time of papal plots, court intrigues, family feuds, loyalties, betrayals, assassinations and a few battles. When he had enough material to weave together fact and fiction, he produced his award-winning novel, ‘1066: What Fates Impose’, the first in a series about the Norman Conquest. G. K. Holloway lives in Bristol with his wife and two children.
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