The Leopards of Normandy: Duke: Leopards of Normandy 2 by David Churchill

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The Leopards of Normandy: Duke: Leopards of Normandy 2 by David Churchill

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: This second in the mysterious David Churchill's hist fict trilogy centering on William the Conqueror is again rich in intrigue, wonderful historical moments and a bloody fight or two. Again, I loved every syllable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: April 2016
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472219220

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Normandy 1037: Duke William at 9 years old is surrounded by guardians and advisors but not all of them have his interests at heart. In fact whether he lives or dies will have more to do with William's resilience than the custodial duty of those around him. Meanwhile the fight for the English throne across the channel seems remote and none of his business as the sons of Queen Emma jostle for Canute's old crown. It's getting closer though; one day William Duke of Normandy will be William the Conqueror.

No one knows who mysterious author, journalist and historian David Churchill is… apart from the man himself, his family, publisher, publicist… ok… not many people know who David Churchill is but he continues to write amazing historical fiction.

A case in point is this, the amazing second book in the William the Conqueror trilogy. It's so amazing it's a book reviewer's nightmare – the sort of book you want to savour slowly and don't want to finish in a pastime where reading fast is considered an attribute.

This volume takes us from 9 year old William the Bastard, nominal Duke, to the Duke of Normandy in his early 20s. He may not be the Conqueror when we leave him this time but no one dares call him the Bastard anymore (at least not to his face).

David's notes at the end of the book (which should be read at the end to avoid spoilers) again iterate his problems fossicking true history from an era of gossip, dissemblers and gaping holes. However, the factual moments he reveals couldn't be made up. A Norman hit man called Odo the Fat for instance and, yes, looking at his daily menu and the wear and tear on his steeds, we're talking morbidly obese in today's parlance.

We soon learn that good mediaeval killers of any build were never out of a job on either side of the channel. By joining some documentary dots, the author proves to us that we needn't wait for the Borgias to appear on a historical timeline if we want to witness some fatal power struggles. Certain noblemen (and indeed noblewomen) in Normandy and England seem to be going through the opposition like a sharp knife through…well… through arteries and veins.

If you're squeamish none of the blood comes out of the blue so it's easy to look away and then re-join the rest of us as we discover people like Queen Emma. Widow of both Kings Canute and Ethelred, I drifted between being wary and feeling really sorry for her as she's managed to raise two sons who'll make her life a total misery.

Indeed, a warning for any royalists reading: Edward the Confessor doesn't come out of this smelling of roses. We also realise that the succession plan for the English monarchy was in a total mess long before Harold received his new eye-augmenting facial feature.

Talking of nests of vipers, our favourite poisoner The Viper is back and finding herself much in demand as a pawn of the powerful.

By the time we reach the last page William has become a brilliant strategist who knows his own mind. We leave him as a man fit to be a conqueror which is just as well considering what happens next. Book 3 whenever you're ready please Mr C?

(A massive thank you to the folk at Headline for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: Please do read David's The Leopards of Normandy: Devil, the first in the series, else you'll be doing yourself a massive disservice. If you've read it, we also highly recommend Master of War by David Gilman and/or The War at the Edge of the World: Twilight of Empire: Book One (Rome Reborn) by Ian Ross, both being first books in exemplary series.

Buy The Leopards of Normandy: Duke: Leopards of Normandy 2 by David Churchill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Leopards of Normandy: Duke: Leopards of Normandy 2 by David Churchill at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Leopards of Normandy: Duke: Leopards of Normandy 2 by David Churchill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Leopards of Normandy: Duke: Leopards of Normandy 2 by David Churchill at Amazon.com.


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