Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sometimes Rugged and Raw but You Won't Be Able to Put it Down!

It’s 1069 and William I has conquered England and is handing out land to his knights while still fighting the Danes and the Saxon rebels. Rolfe the Relentless claims Castle Aelfgar and weds the Lady Alice, a bitter woman who comes with the land, but the woman he wants is her illegitimate sister, Ceidre, who he would have preferred to marry.

Ceidre is a fiery lass, a healer and a loyal Saxon who, in league with her brothers Edwin and Morcar, risks all to restore Aelfgar to its rightful heirs--her family. She seeks to thwart Rolf at every turn, while irresistibly attracted to the Norman. He treats her very badly most of the time but he’s still obsessed with her. Having caught her in treason and flogged her till she bled (the usual punishment for a woman), he decides to get rid of her by marrying her to one of his knights. But then he finds he cannot give her up entirely and will exercise his rights as liege lord to have her.

Joyce serves up a suspenseful tale full of history and with wonderful characters. I loved the heroine for her courage and her defiance of the Norman overlord. To be Saxon in the days of William the Conqueror was to know hardship and humiliation. Ceidre tried to do her part to fight against it even at the cost of her personal integrity. Rolfe was a strong leader who was clearly a favored knight of the king, yet he would risk much to protect the Saxon maid he wanted. Though Ceidre and Rolfe are fictional, her two brothers, Edwin and Morcar were real historic figures who rebelled against Norman rule till their deaths.

I thought the book very well written and it held my interest though at times the characters acted in a despicable manner. Perhaps it was understandable for the times and Joyce is to be commended for her realism. I recommend it.

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