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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review and ARC Giveaway: I Am the Chosen King by Helen Hollick

A wonderfully rich tapestry of royal struggles.
    I Am the Chosen King
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140224066X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402240669
     Genre:  Historical Fiction
     My Rating: 5.0
The year is 1066.  Earl Harold Godwineson of Wessex is lawfully chosen and crowned by the English Lords as King of England - for there is no-one else with the ability to defend the land against the threat of conquest by Duke William of Normandy.
Power and Passion, Love; Loyalty and lust for a throne - One Kingdom, Two Men, One Crown
Review: I have to say that I was a bit overwhelmed as I finished this book because I found it to be so  emotionally gripping.

The book blurb and the video stress the year 1066 but that is actually the very last part of this book. This wonderful story and covers the years from 1043 leading up to 1066 where it culminates with the brutal and devastating Battle of Hastings where the English Army under King Harold II battles the Duke of Normandy who had invaded England intent on taking the crown.

There were times I had a hard time putting the book down as I was so absorbed in the lives of the characters.  Earl Harold is a warm, loving husband (although lovely wife of 20 years is a handfasted wife) and loving father. He is also a strong warrior and intelligent diplomatic leader.  The book portrays his growth from a sensitive young man to a a respected leader who is chosen as King, not so much by his ambition but by his dedication to duty and love of country.

Duke William is also portrayed as he matures. His childhood is effected by his illegitimacy which leads to his becoming a cold and harsh leader. He ruthlessly claims and controls Normandy and then sets his sights on the English Crown. He is a man who would rather wipe out a town than offer terms of surrender.  Most of his lords are loyal out of fear and intimidation.  Although he develops a special relationship with his wife, Mathilda, who is a remarkably strong and astute woman, William has little time or affection to spare anyone else, even his children.

The story is full of men (and women) fighting for power with jealousies, unreasonable expectations and betrayals. King Edward is a loved king but a weak ruler.  He has an acrimonious relationship with his very strong mother, Emma, (The Forever Queen) and a cold relationship with his wife, Edith who is Harold’s sister. Edith eventually learns how to insinuate her counsel on Edward but, in concert with another brother, Tostig, she is greedy, cruel and overly ambitious without considering the consequences for those around them.

The family dynamics are quite interesting and the constant jostling and battling for favor and position gives one pause to think how difficult it would be to live under such conditions.  The writing is rich and descriptive of the countryside, the buildings, the weather and the people. Most importantly the author does an absolutely fabulous job of weaving the lives, loves, ambitions and personalities of the characters so they become alive to the reader. I was surprised that this read faster than I expected. I did however dread reading the last 50 or so pages as I was so caught up in Harold’s life that I did not want to face the ending I knew was coming: that fateful 1066 Battle of Hastings. If you love a truly rich historical that you can become immersed in I highly recommend this series.
If you missed it - here is the link to my review of The Forever Queen.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for the book to read and review.

This giveaway is limited to US entries because of the weight of the book. 

1.Visit the author's website and tell me something of interest you find there.
Please leave your e-mail!

2. For two extra entries comment on the Author's Interview.

3. For and extra entry answer the Question posed by the Author at Q.14.

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5. For two extra entries, blog, facebook, tweet (any of those networks!) about this giveaway and tell me where you did.

(Seven total entries possible.)
It isn't necessary to use separate entries unless you want them in different chronological order.

* This contest is open to US only.
* No P.O. Boxes Please - for shipping reasons.
* This contest will close 10:00 PM (Central) on April 8, 2011. The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.

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