THREE KINGS - ONE THRONE by MICHAEL WILLS.
In a panoramic novel against a backdrop of violence and political turbulence in the eleventh century, Ivar, a Danish orphan is enslaved to the most successful and experienced soldier of the age. He eventually becomes one of the elite bodyguard of the Emperor of Turkey. Meanwhile his distant relative, Torkil, the grandson of an Anglo Norse thayne, advances his military career in the service of Harold Godwinsson.
History dictates that one day the two warriors, caught up in the maelstrom of treachery, carnage, greed, lust and loyalty, will meet. When they do, there are devastating results for one of them, his king and his country.
The crown of England was the most contested in all Europe; on the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold Goodwinsson took possession of it. In 1066 two other claimants to the throne, a Norwegian and a Norman tried to wrest it from him. This is the story of Ivar, Torkil and the three kings they served.
....... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1: Trial by Ordeal): The rider coaxed his horse to slowly push its head through the tall reads.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 117): Ivar asked the swordsmith to inlay the claw in the pommel of his sword. The legend in his family was that the claw would protect the bearer from death at the hands of a stranger. What better place to put it than on the sword which would accompany Ivar when he faced the dangers of battle.
MY THOUGHTS: Set in a turbulent 11th century England, Three Kings - One Throne will undoubtedly be enjoyed by historical fiction fans of all ages (I know I liked it) but I'd especially recommend it for teenagers/young adults as whilst the story is never 'dumbed down' for this audience I do think it is written in such a detailed and yet simplistic enough way as to make it particularly accessible to them.
Narrated by not one but two characters, something that doesn't always work well and can be confusing. In this instance however an admirable job is done in telling the story from the perspective of two such seemingly different characters. And yet are they?
Though occasionally almost verging on text book territory, I admire that the author combined passages from actual texts of the era whilst going to such lengths to bring to life the events, the politics, the places, the people both real and, in particular, fictionalised, of the time. No mean feat when covering such a colourful period in history in just over 250 pages.
A satisfying and highly interesting read, my only real concerns being the minute print and the footnotes which, loved by some and loathed by others, I personally prefer in the form of a glossary that I can consult as and when.
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