Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Emma Reviews: 1066: What Fates Impose

1066: What Fates Impose by G.K. Holloway
Review by Emma Powell

Please see below for information about the freebies!

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown.

I don’t know why but for some reason I had made my mind up that I was about to embark on yet another version of Earl Harold getting the English crown, nasty Norman William comes over and takes it by force and subsequent battle scenes. I have no idea why I thought that if I’m honest. And was so very pleased to be proved wrong.

The first part of the book dedicates itself to giving a background of Godwin, Harold’s father and the players at King Edward’s court. I’m ashamed to say I began to feel like I was reading an Anglo-Saxon biopic and was worried about becoming a tad disillusioned. However, what dawned on me was I had felt exactly the same when I read my first Sharon K. Penman novel-- lots of background players and lots of political games. Ironically, in both instances, the pages kept being turned because they are exactly that-- page-turners. The characters were superbly fleshed out and the ending of each chapter just left the reader needing to know what happened next. We all know how successful Penman is with her novels thanks to her meticulous research and her gift for weaving the fictitious with the non-fictitious.  G. K. Holloway shows the same talent with 1066: What Fates Impose.

Of course we need to know the background players! Politics was royalty and this tale is a fabulous, enthralling yellow-brick-road of insight, story-telling and research. I was pleased to learn of events-- such as Harold rescuing Norman soldiers from quicksand-- that I had never come across before. There are mini tales within bigger tales in this book. When I researched situations I had never heard of, such as that previously mentioned and when Harold visited the pope in Rome, I was so pleased to see they had indeed taken place. It makes that part of our colourful history all the more real and shows the level of research that went into this story.

The book also reiterates how hard and dangerous life was. The jealousy, tempers, conniving, double-crossing all come alive. The love, hate, kinship, loyalty also all leap of the page at you and makes Harold come alive as a person, not just a heroic leader but as a man who was undoubtedly brave but who had faults, warts an’ all. It also portrayed Edward the Confessor as the king he was but one who seemed to prefer sitting on the fence. My personal opinion of Edward is an effeminate, pale, weak-willed king who could have a dark side and this book fitted in with my preconceptions.

This is not just another book about Harold and 1066. This version takes episodes from when Harold was a young boy and plays them out against the backdrop of Anglo-Saxon England. Earlier on in the book we have periods of storytelling of William and his Norman territories, and these gradually develop until you suddenly start another chapter and bang, William is there, no longer viewed from a distance but a real threat. And this is what I liked about this book-- it makes the reader think more about, for example, why William was so hell bent on getting the English throne. It makes you question the rationales of the main players, seeing them not as figures from a far-off distant past but real no-holds-barred personas that shaped our futures. 

So whilst I may deem the book ‘slow to get going’, there is most definitely a reason for this and as things gather pace, it all makes sense.  You can see why things were done the way they were and it all comes together as one big jigsaw. The book definitely gathers momentum but it is exquisitely timed and helped someone like me, who likes explanations in layman’s terms, understand the politics of it all. 

1066: What Fates Impose weaves a deep, rich tale of such an important era of England. It lays a foundation, builds the players and lets us watch it all tumble down. It is told by linking real episodes in a timely manner giving a more over-arching tale than just a story. It really feels like the Bayeux Tapestry  in book format and really has set a high standard of story telling with this most important era of English history. Very well written, good use of the English language  and marvellously researched but not to be rushed. A fabulous read if you like your facts woven into a glorious tale. Soak up every chapter and you will have a most satisfying and informative read.

G.K. Holloway is also so graciously offering TWO FREE COPIES of 1066: What Fates Impose to two lucky winners. To claim your chance to win, simply comment below OR at the Facebook thread for this review, located here

You can follow Glyn on Twitter and Facebook.

G. K. Holloway left university in 1980 with a degree in history and politics. After spending a year in Canada he relocated to England's West Country and began work in secondary education. Later he moved firstly into adult ededucation and then into further education before finally working in higher education.

After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson he became fascinated by the fall of Anglo Saxon England and spent several years studying events leading up to and beyond the Battle of Hastings. Eventually he decided he had enough material to make an engrossing novel using characters from the Bayeux Tapestry, the Norse sagas, the Domesday Book and other sources. He feels that he has brought the period and its characters to life in his own particular way. Following the major protagonists, as well as political, religious and personal themes, the downfall of Anglo-Saxon England is portrayed by a strong cast. 

Nowadays he lives in Bristol with his wife and two children. When he's not writing he works with his wife in their company.

1066 is his debut novel and was originally published as an e-book. It has received very positive reviews and this has encouraged him to publish it in paperback. Currently he is working on a sequel. One day he hopes to write full time.

1066: What Fates Impose can also be purchased at Amazon and Amazon UK. 


Emma Powell has been reviewing for us since The Review started. She has now joined the admins team and you can find more of Emma's scribblings on her blog here.

Edit: This entry has been updated to reflect the dual freebie status.


  1. Totally on my TBR now! Ever since I got that first glimmer of 1066 HF a couple of years ago, and was persuaded to test the waters out of my WoR comfort zone, I've been looking for more to whet my appetite---this is one of them, and I must read it! Splendid review, Miss Emma, thank you!

  2. I have always been fascinated by the Bayeux tapestry. One day I would like to see it in person. To read about the characters portrayed on it, would bring the story to life.Thank you for the giveaway.

  3. This sounds really good and in my favourite historical period too! Definitely one to add to my TBR list.

  4. An endlessly fascinating period for me and this sounds like one I'd like to read.

  5. Sounds so good. Would love to win a copy of this

  6. I've not really read much about the period of 1066, this sounds a fascinating read I'd love to win a copy, thanks for the opportunity to enter.

  7. This sounds wonderful as I have always felt like the Godwin backstory is overshadowed by That of William, Norman politics and Edward in other books covering this period. Look forward to reading 1066: What Fates Impose.

  8. Wow, there's a lot of competition here so its lucky that there are two copies to be given away, an ebook and a paperback! Double the chance!

    good luck everyone!

  9. Wow, there's a lot of competition here so its lucky that there are two copies to be given away, an ebook and a paperback! Double the chance!

    good luck everyone!

  10. I was lucky enough to read this book last year and I totally agree with Emma, this is an amazing read. The characters are built slowly and you are drawn into the politics and the people more and more with each chapter. I hadn't read anything about this era before this book so went on to search out others, none of which have been anywhere near as good. I'm looking forward to Mr Holloway's second novel. Karenb

  11. This sounds fascinating - definitely to be added to my TBR list! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  12. Added (high up) on the TBR list! Being Norwegian means I have a vested interest in the subject ;)

  13. The review (above) and the 'evening of chat with the author' has made me long to read this book so much. The author GK Holloway's enthusiasm shines through his words when he is talking about it and I feel gripped with the same passion to discover more about this era, starting right here with this book.