Release Date: 23/06/11
1062, a time many fear is the End of Days. With the English King Edward heirless and ailing, across the grey seas in Normandy the brutal William the Bastard waits for the moment when he can drown England in a tide of blood. The ravens of war are gathering. But as the king's closest advisors scheme and squabble amongst themselves, hopes of resisting the naked ambition of the Norman duke come to rest with just one man: Hereward...To some a ruthless warrior and master tactician, to others a devil in human form, Hereward is as adept in the art of slaughter as the foes that gather to claim England's throne. But in his country's hour of greatest need, his enemies at Court have made him outlaw. To stay alive - and a freeman - he must carve a bloody swathe from the frozen hills of Northumbria to Flanders' fields and the fenlands of East Anglia. The tale of a man whose deeds will become the stuff of legend, this is also the story of two mismatched allies: Hereward the man of war, and Alric, a man of peace, a monk. One will risk everything to save the land he loves, the other to save his friend's soul...James Wilde's thrilling, action-packed debut rescues a great English hero from the darkest of times and brings him to brutal and bloody life.
With a huge amount of historical fiction titles currently being set around the 1066 mark, an author has to find something new to bring to the mix in order to generate memorable characters as well giving the reader a plot to keep them not only engrossed but thrilled and entertained throughout. Such is the volume of these titles to date that it’s a wonder that none of the characters have charged headlong into each other on the battlefield.
Currently in this muddied and historically rich period James Wilde strides with his debut title which takes the reader onto the battlefield with Hereward which, is a tale for the modern audience with a tip of the hat and homage to the 1963 Victor Comic (Hereward the Wake, Saxon Chief) as well as Charles Kingsley’s Hereward the Wake published in 1865. Whilst the title is all of the authors devising it’s one that will thrill the modern audience from its hard-line bloodthirsty opening that sets the tone of the story (which incidentally has a very Gemmellesque feeling due to its Waylander type opening.)
All in the story moves at a wonderful pace, the combat is clearly thought out and with Howardesque touches, great swathes of bloodletting and overall kickass arc; it’s a title that for a debut will make one hell of an impact to the Historical Fiction audience which makes Wilde an author to keep an eye on and one to pick up now prior to the hype and for me would have been ideal holiday reading and if you happy to be in Hereward country one that would generate an exploration of the surrounding area in closer detail. Great stuff.