Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Splintered Kingdom-James Aitcheson

The Splintered Kingdom
James Aitcheson
Sourcebooks Landmark, Aug 5 2014, $24.99
ISBN: 9781402286193

Tancred the Dinan Breton knight loyally fought for William of Normandy when he defeated Harold Godwineson at Hastings.  In spite of the victory, rebellion continued and in 1069 Tancred barely survived an ambush that left his Lord Robert de Commines dead.  Not long afterward his heroics earned him a title and land on the tumultuous Welsh border, and knights reporting to him (see Sworn Sword).

One year later, the land remains dangerous as English, Welsh and Viking foes of William forge an uneasy alliance to rid the land of the Normans.  Like his monarch, Tancred faces problems defending his recent gains especially from the marauding border Welsh.  Unlike the Conqueror, Tancred also has Norman “allies” who consider him an ambitious upstart needing to be destroyed before they fear he amasses more power including usurping theirs.  Thus he is sent to lead a suicide mission across the in Wales ostensive to put down Welsh raids and Saxon rebellion while conflicts explode in other parts of the kingdom.

The second terrific Tancred Conqueror era historical is a great thriller that brings to life the eleventh century bitter hostilities that remain heated several years after Hastings; war continues seemingly everywhere and the Normans were not undefeated in these battles.  Unlike most portrayals of the Conqueror’s knights being chivalrous and caring, the protagonist and his equally ambitious competitor for the same promotions Berengar seem genuine as their respective BHAGs realistically lead them to disregard second order effects especially innocent collateral damage. 

Harriet Klausner

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