I reviewed Senlac Book One here in Readers Club. It covered the political machinations leading up to the invasion of England in 1066. Book Two deals with the invasions of England themselves. Whilst William is attending to his invasion fleet in northern France, and awaiting the right winds, the Norwegians, with King Harold’s treacherous brother Tostig, land in Scotland.
The story of Harold’s march to Stamford Bridge, near York, his defeat of the Norwegians, and his march back to Hastings is well known. What I found most fascinating was to learn why Harold lost, because he shouldn’t have. If only he’d rested his army in London, equipped it properly, and waited for the troops from across his realm to assemble before marching to Hastings, he would almost certainly have had an overwhelming force. His navy would prevent William bringing any more troops across from France.
His impetuosity was in part because William was ravaging his own lands and his own people. William had seen this in his nature when he was holding Harold to ransom in Normandy. He knew that he wouldn’t have to wait long. He also had faith in his archers and his Norman knights on their magnificent warhorses.
Harold’s logistical failures and his impetuous character were his downfall. In my opinion, this book should be required reading at Sandhurst and West Point.
The battle scenes are frighteningly graphic and realistic. I may have nightmares tonight, but it was worth it. It’s a magnificently thoughtful book, and shockingly violent too. Thankfully the failures of editing I found in book one were few and far between in book two. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
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