Author: Matthew Willis, J.A. Ironside
Publisher: Penmore Press
Type of book: 1045-1050s, deformed, spying, balance, dukedom, temper, Normandy, England, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror, Harold Godwineson, political prisoners, family, battles, marriage, occupation, learning
Year it was published: 2017
William, the nineteen-year-old duke of Normandy, is enjoying the full fruits of his station. Life is a succession of hunts, feasts, and revels, with little attention paid to the welfare of his vassals. Tired of the young duke’s dissolute behaviour and ashamed of his illegitimate birth, a group of traitorous barons force their way into his castle. While William survives their assassination attempt, his days of leisure are over. He’ll need help from the king of France to secure his dukedom from the rebels.
On the other side of the English Channel lives ten-year-old Ælfgifa, the malformed and unwanted youngest sister to the Anglo-Saxon Jarl, Harold Godwinson. Ælfgifa discovers powerful rivalries in the heart of the state when her sister Ealdgyth is given in a political marriage to King Edward, and she finds herself caught up in intrigues and political manoeuvring as powerful men vie for influence. Her path will collide with William’s, and both must fight to shape the future.
An Argument of Blood is the first of two sweeping historical novels on the life and battles of William the Conqueror.
Main characters include William the Conqueror (or Bastard) who in beginning is extremely spoiled and doesn't understand the balance he has to uphold. He is best described as impetuous, temperamental and impatient. In my view he is drawn realistically and goes from a spoiled brat to perhaps a determined and stubborn conqueror. In other words, he does grow up. Aegilfa far more dominated the book than William the Conqueror and she is far more admirable for she is resourceful, skillful, logical, and understands the games of politics a little too well, although I would guess that her downfall might be the skills that help her stand out against other women. She is also deformed.
Its important to be given choices
The story is in third person narrative from William's and Aegilfa's point of view. I really enjoyed everything about the story, therefore its difficult for me to criticize it. I would probably request that at least years would be given in beginning because I had hard a time figuring out the chronology. I also would have wanted an author's note mentioning whether or not Aegilfa was real. (I've read a few novels that lead up to Battle of Hastings, and I don't ever recall meeting Aegilfa there.) I also should mention that it seems as if events relating to the House of Godwine that deal with Harold are touched upon but they're not the focus of the story, and most seem to happen off-scene so to speak. This story is of William the Conqueror (or Bastard) and Aegilfa, not Harold Godwineson and the political machinations surrounding him.
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About the Authors
J.A. Ironside (Jules) grew up in rural Dorset, surrounded by books – which pretty much set he up for life as a complete bibliophile. She loves speculative fiction of all stripes, especially fantasy and science fiction, although when it comes to the written word, she’s not choosy and will read almost anything. Actually it would be fair to say she starts to go a bit peculiar if she doesn’t get through at least three books a week. She writes across various genres, both adult and YA fiction, and it’s a rare story if there isn’t a fantastical or speculative element in there somewhere.
Jules has had several short stories published in magazines and anthologies, as well as recorded for literature podcasts. Books 1 and 2 of her popular Unveiled series are currently available with the 3rd and 4th books due for release Autumn/ Winter 2017.
She also co-authored the sweeping epic historical Oath and Crown Duology with Matthew Willis, released June 2017 from Penmore Press.
Jules now lives on the edge of the Cotswold way with her boyfriend creature and a small black and white cat, both of whom share a god-complex.
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Matthew Willis is an author of historical fiction, SF, fantasy and non-fiction. In June 2017 An Argument of Blood, the first of two historical novels about the Norman Conquest co-written with J.A. Ironside, was published. In 2015 his story Energy was shortlisted for the Bridport short story award.
Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service.
His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He now has four non fiction books published with a fifth, a biography of test pilot Duncan Menzies, due later in 2017. He currently lives in Southampton and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living.
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Its difficult for me to believe that this is the authors' first foray into historical fiction because its very well written and done. Having read some previous books about the events leading up to Battle of Hastings in 1066, I wasn't really sure what to expect because for one, I've never heard of Aegilfa, and William really reminded me of the current POTUS which put me on guard against his character in beginning and where I was hoping and praying that he would change as the story goes along. I'm really looking forward to the second part of the saga and to getting back to Aegilfa as well as William.
This is for HFVBT
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5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)