The fate of England hangs in the balance of a fight between brothers
The families of Europe strive for power and supremacy in this epic tale which takes the fight between brothers to a whole new level. Richard II, Duke of Normandy, has long ruled Normandy with a fist of iron; his untimely death in 1026, results in a deadly power struggle between his two sons. The brothers, Richard and Robert, both with an eye for the main chance conduct a campaign of hatred against each other as they each seek to take control of the powerful House of Normandy. What then follows is an intricate and devilishly good account of the fight between two deadly rivals and of their lives both inside and outside of Norman politics. By combining factual evidence with fiction, the shared lust for power between brothers is intertwined with the romantic story of Robert of Normandy’s affair with Herleva, the lowly tanner’s daughter who gave him his illegitimate son, who would , one day, become William the Conqueror.
After an initial slow start, in which much historical background information is shared; the story starts to come alive. The epic nature of the narrative takes in, not just the Norman side of ducal politics, but also goes some way in explaining the complicated relationship between the Normans and the Royal court of England. The book is gritty without being gratuitously violent, and as the power struggles of unscrupulous men starts to come alive, there is always a shadowy edge, which never lets you forget, that this was indeed a dark and dirty age, and the premise of brother fighting against brother, was never going to end well. There are some lighter moments; I particularly enjoyed Robert’s burgeoning relationship with Herleva, whilst never overly sentimental, shows a softer side to Robert’s personality but which also emphasised women’s place in 11th century politics.
There is no doubt that the author is an accomplished writer who clearly knows and understands this era in history and uses his knowledge to great effect. The Leopards of Normandy gets off to promising start and I am excited to see how the trilogy progresses and look forward to making the journey with William the Conqueror as he grows from boy to man.
The Leopards of Normandy will be available from all good book stores and online
in Hardback and eBook from the 26th February 2015
David Churchill is the pseudonym of an award-winning journalist. He has investigated financial scandals on Wall Street, studio intrigues in Hollywood and corrupt sports stars in Britain, and lived in Moscow, Washington DC and Havana. He has edited four magazines, published seventeen books and been translated into some twenty languages. The Leopards of Normandy trilogy reflects his lifelong passion for history and his fascination for the extraordinary men and women of the past who shaped the world we live in today.
With thanks to Caitlin Raynor at Headline for the chance to read
The Leopards of Normandy in advance of its publication