This is the second book in the Hereward series and in this book we see the English desperately trying to resist King William and his ruthless Norman nobles. Hereward and his small army have retreated to the Fens of Ely. Here they can strike out against William’s agents and still be hidden by the waterways and marshes of the Fens. As more and more people join the rebellion Hereward must deal with the multiple problems of feeding and housing them and also keeping the disgruntled inhabitants of Ely happy.
As Hereward tries to assemble an army that can challenge William’s grip on the country, he must deal with treachery from within his own camp, the hatred of his own father and the ever present threat of a Norman attack. With the help and advice from Alric and his brother Redwald he must come up with a plan of attack that will drive William from the throne of England.
I really enjoyed this book, it is a cracking story with a some very interesting threads though it. We see Hereward move from just being a war leader to a man weighed down by the responsibility of civilian leadership. Another separate thread is the story of the English nobles who have thrown their lot in with William and their struggle with their conscience and the desire to maintain their position.
It has a great cast of characters and Wilde has written two very interesting main characters. Hereward is the ‘hero’ but is struggling to be that hero the English want and need. The inner demon that drives his anger and bloodlust is constantly trying to get out and as Hereward realizes that to defeat William he has to be like him even the priest Alric struggles to control him. The second character is the Viking Harard Redteeth. He is the ‘enemy’ who fights for William and has sworn to kill Hereward but is a man of honour who abhors the Norman way of fighting. It is a strange combination because at times you dislike the ‘hero’ and really like the ‘enemy’
This is a cracking story and is set in an interesting period of time. It is a time were we are taught that the English accepted the rule of the new rulers and William brought law and order to the country. As James Wilde’s books show, The English fought the Normans for many years after the Conquest and I eagerly await the next book in the saga.