William the Conqueror vs King Harold, by Jesse Lee Vint, according to the blurb is “The story that has never been told!”
In 1066, Halley’s Comet made an appearance. The same year, in England, three undefeated warrior kings who believed they had a legitimate claim to the crown clashed. Quitting wasn’t in their vocabulary so when events sent them on a collision course it made the perfect scenario for exciting history. Even though Normandy’s William and England’s Harold Godwinson, crowned King Harold II in January of 1066, were friends before the fateful events, the lure of being crowned king took precedence over friendship. Princess Adelize, William’s daughter and the fiancée of King Harold II, was caught in the middle.
The author crafted this novel in the style of an Arthurian adventure story and he focuses on three key ingredients: humor, heart, and history, saying:
I have boundless admiration for these historical figures whose feats and sacrifices were second to none in world history, and aspired for all I am worth and stand for in this life to bring to the reader their timeless story in a manner that the reader would find both informative and entertaining. That is why I wrote this book.
The tone of this novel is set in the beginning in the “Word from the Author” section. Not only does he state his reasons for penning this story, but then he includes what could be interpreted as a death threat to anyone who steals this idea. This is in reference to his claim that the original idea for “Back to the Future” was stolen from him. This may be the first time I’ve read an historical fiction novel with a death threat in the foreword. As a fan of the genre, even if it was meant to be humorous, I was leery after this.
However, right from the start, Jesse Lee Vint’s simple writing is bold, humorous, and hypnotic. Yes, I was hooked by the historical events. This is a wonderful story for families to read together (minus the creepy, albeit funny, threat). It’s obvious that the author is well-versed in the events of 1066, including the historical record, myths, and theories surrounding the most unusual events. It’s nearly impossible to know what actually transpired so many centuries ago, which gives Vint some leeway. His account seems plausible. More importantly, it’s fun. Historical fiction should be entertaining. That’s the allure of the genre and William the Conqueror vs. King Harold wholeheartedly delivers.
The reader is fed known historical nuggets about this epic conflict between three historic and fascinating leaders in such a way that it leaves a lasting impression. Vint confesses that he admires all three of warriors and his goal is to educate people about them since he believes they have been forgotten. And to a certain extent, this is true, at least in my case. Years ago I’d completed several English history courses while in college and grad school and I had entirely forgotten the names of King Harold’s and Norway’s Haarald Hardrada. After reading this exciting Arthurian adventure novel I’m hoping their names, achievements, and losses will stick in my mind.
William the Conqueror vs. King Harold is a unique twist about one of the most exciting chapters in English history.