Author: Mercedes Rochelle
Publisher: Sergeant Press
Part of a Series: The Last Great Saxon Earls
Type of book: 1064-1080s, William the Duke of Normandy, the Battle of Stamford Bridge, brotherhood, loyalty, kingdoms, Battle of Hastings, deaths, friendship, family, England, France, fealty, siblings
Year it was published: 2017
In 1066, the rivalry between two brothers brought England to its knees. When Duke William of Normandy landed at Pevensey on September 28, 1066, no one was there to resist him. King Harold Godwineson was in the north, fighting his brother Tostig and a fierce Viking invasion. How could this have happened? Why would Tostig turn traitor to wreak revenge on his brother?
The Sons of Godwine were not always enemies. It took a massive Northumbrian uprising to tear them apart, making Tostig an exile and Harold his sworn enemy. And when 1066 came to an end, all the Godwinesons were dead except one: Wulfnoth, hostage in Normandy who took on the task to preserve the history of his famous siblings.
While the story is populated by a lot of characters, those of interest are Harold, Toastig, Edward the Confessor and William Duke of Normandy. Women do not play a big role in the story, but the world belongs to Godwine's sons. Also for fans who read Heirs to a Prophecy, a certain king of Scotland also makes a cameo appearance. In my opinion, in the book, Harold seemed charismatic, pompous and extremely resourceful. As much as I want to say he is loyal to family, in a lot of instances he puts England first even at the risk of alienating his brother. In the story, Toastig is portrayed as someone who deeply resents Harold and who desires to outmatch him. He also was put into a lot of difficult situations and feels he cannot count on his family but instead counts on his followers and friends. Edward the Confessor is probably one of the few people who cannot get along with Harold for one reason or another, and prefers Toastig to Harold. He is deeply pious, religious and a bit like Harold places England above his own personal feelings with great reluctance. William the Duke of Normandy sees himself as the wronged and betrayed party by both Harold and Edward the Confessor thus he has to make things right. Strangely enough he is also described as a man of honor and someone who doesn't mistreat hostages. Unfortunately the other brothers and Queen Editha aren't explored as much as Harold and Toastig are.
Sometimes the best intentions can turn to disastrous consequences
The story is in first person narrative from Harold's, Toastig's, Gyrth's, Wulfnoth's and Leofwine's points of view. Although in the book their sister Queen Editha is the instigator of the collection of memories, and Wulfnoth the compiler, the reader sees very little of them throughout the novel. Most of the book is Toastig and Harold. The story, from what I recall, picks up from the previous novel and the main focus is up until 1066, the Battle of Hastings. I do appreciate that upon reading the book, the story cleared up Stamford Bridge and what Toastig felt and experienced and why he had done what he did. I do have to wonder at what is fictional and what is real in the story because I had a difficult time telling those two apart.
(From the book)
Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercdes Rochelle received a degree in English literature from University of Missouri. She learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
Just like other three books that I read and reviewed, I enjoyed this one a lot, especially how it seemed to be straightforward when it came to history. I think that not enough attention was paid to other siblings, in particular to Gyrth, Leofwine nor Wulfnoth. Although their points of view do make it into the book, I admire that ultimately the story becomes Harold vs Toastig and how they saw events. While I love books with details and that focus a great deal on life back then, once in a while it's nice to find a book that is focused on history and on filling out the blanks. I think if a reader is looking to gain more insight into 1060s and into Godwine's family, then this is a right book to start out with. I also feel that reading the prequels, in particular Godwine the Kingmaker and The Sons of Godwine is necessary because it sets up England of the time and introduces the readers to the rivalries and characters that play a huge role in Fatal Rivalry.
I was given this book for an honest review
4 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.)