Title: The Conqueror: A Novel of William the Conqueror, the Bastard Son Who Overpowered a Kingdom and the Woman Who Melted His Heart
Author: Georgette Heyer
Release Date: September 1, 2008
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
From the back cover:
Known for her exhaustive research and ability to bring past eras to life, bestselling author Georgette Heyer tells the story William the Conqueror, who became King of England in 1066, and his queen Matilda, the high-born noblewoman who at first scornfully spurned him.
The story of William the Conqueror is a fascinating one – the story of a bastard son of Normandy who managed to become the king of England. Unfortunately it hasn’t gotten the royal treatment that more popular eras in English history have; The Conqueror is the first historical fiction novel I’ve read about the famous king.
The novel itself is a hefty one. At almost 500 pages, The Conqueror is definitely a commitment. Heyer gives the period very detailed historical treatment, full of nuances and particularities that create great atmosphere for the novel. It is clear that she did very meticulous research in order to learn about the various battles and political intrigue required for William’s eventual conquering of England to take place. She also weaves more personal storylines throughout the book in order to put faces on the people she is writing about, but mostly the book is a biography of William.
The problem is that the book almost reads like a textbook; it is slow going and often plods along. There are rich historical details, true, but this is a book that is much more for people who enjoy strategy and battles than for fans of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances.
The best part of The Conqueror is the relationship between William and Matilda. These two characters are passionate, tempestuous, and very much in love with one another. Heyer’s real strength at writing wonderful romances really shines through in this part of the novel. Unfortunately, despite the subtitle, Matilda is very much relegated to the background of the book, as it focuses much more on William and his fights and battles.
Still, Heyer’s descriptions and historical details make this book worth reading. Others might enjoy this book more than I did, especially if you are really interested in William the Conqueror. If you are, I very much encourage you to give The Conqueror a try!
Thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending me this book to review!