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The Sons of Godwine: Part Two of The Last Great Saxon Earls

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Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King's most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor's death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of E Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King's most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor's death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn't particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame. This is a story of Godwine's family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OF GODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers. This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor's reign. Unfortunately, Godwine's misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha's disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold's career was just beginning as his father's journey was coming to an end. Harold's siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig's case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective. Harold was his mother's favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig's vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig's love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY.


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Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King's most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor's death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of E Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King's most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor's death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn't particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame. This is a story of Godwine's family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OF GODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers. This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor's reign. Unfortunately, Godwine's misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha's disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold's career was just beginning as his father's journey was coming to an end. Harold's siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig's case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective. Harold was his mother's favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig's vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig's love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY.

30 review for The Sons of Godwine: Part Two of The Last Great Saxon Earls

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Lambert

    I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of The Sons of Godwine by Mercedes Rochelle. This is the second part of The Last Great Saxon Earls triology covering the time period of the waning years of Earl Godwine and the rising stars of his sons. The author chose to write this novel in the first person with each of Godwine's sons describing their memories of childhood and the events leading up to the Norman Conquest. The sons are Swegn, Harold, Tostig, Leofwine, Gyrth, and Wulfnoth. Queen Editha, Godwi I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of The Sons of Godwine by Mercedes Rochelle. This is the second part of The Last Great Saxon Earls triology covering the time period of the waning years of Earl Godwine and the rising stars of his sons. The author chose to write this novel in the first person with each of Godwine's sons describing their memories of childhood and the events leading up to the Norman Conquest. The sons are Swegn, Harold, Tostig, Leofwine, Gyrth, and Wulfnoth. Queen Editha, Godwine's daughter also brings her prospective to events. The narrative being written in the first person really draws the reader into the story and one gets a first hand feel of the events and emotions of the person that is being highlighted. Harold, being the most widely known, is prominent in the story but the author does not neglect to give the reader impressions and memories from each of Godwine's sons and Editha. I really enjoyed the interpretations the author brings to the various individuals and situations in the novel. I have read widely on the pre-Conquest and Conquest era and have to say that this book was a fresh approach to the tried and true historical fiction accounts. I am greatly anticipating part three of this series and highly recommend this book and series to anyone who likes this time period.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Boxell

    I am always cautious about reading books to do with the Godwinsons as I get upset with the historical outcome: I am an admirer of Harold. This book is interesting as it tells the story prior to the Norman invasion by William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, and does so by having each of the sons talk to you. This is a valid way of getting the story across as the complexity of the brothers' relationships was very complex. Others have given outlines of the plot and Rochelle sticks very must to the rec I am always cautious about reading books to do with the Godwinsons as I get upset with the historical outcome: I am an admirer of Harold. This book is interesting as it tells the story prior to the Norman invasion by William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, and does so by having each of the sons talk to you. This is a valid way of getting the story across as the complexity of the brothers' relationships was very complex. Others have given outlines of the plot and Rochelle sticks very must to the recorded historical records, albeit some of them written by Norman propagandist. I was quite taken by the author's take on the character and motives of Tostig, but not comfortable with her portrayal of Harold, but, of course, we all hold differing views. Whilst I enjoyed the read I could not give it 5 stars as there are many niggling errors: Castles - err, only in the marcherlands, and those built by the Normans Edward brought in Siward: animal skin clothing? Oh come on Public House" not til 1658, before that Inn or tavern surely Aethelstan of Hereford, Bishop, not Archbishop (only Canterbury & York had Archbishops) Liveried retainers? 14thC onwards I think An axe cutting off 14 pairs of hands on a boulder? The edge would not last more than one hand before it lost its edge - a log of tree stump would have been used. Longbows being used for back shots whilst on the run? I am an archer and can assure you that you cannot do it with anything over about 30lb draw-weight and the ones the author is talking about would have to be at least 60-80lb draw-weight to be a war bow. Yes, you can do backshots with a longbow, but you have to be standing still and any bow over 60lb would not be full drawn when to do it. Sokemen: no, not in Wessex, where the author uses it - that term is from the Danelaw, especially East Anglia. Language, little is made of the fact that English and Normans spoke different languages, something O made much of in my own novel, Woden's Wolf. https://www.amazon.com/Wodens-Wolf-Ge...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    Ay, the Sons of Godwine! We get a good inside scoop into the family through various viewpoints of Godwine. Harold, Tostig, Sweyn, Leofwine, and Wulfnoth. Each point of view adds a depth to a dynamic story. The narrator Kevin E. Green again does a fantastic job of voicing each, character, male and female. Very fascinating!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anne Secher

    This book made history even more enjoyable than it is to me, and much more enjoyable for those who find it somehow boring. Told in first person from the perspective of each Godwine brothers, it engages the reader not only because of the way the story is told, but also thanks to a great narrator, who brought this part of history into reality. I'd certainly recommend this audiobook. This book made history even more enjoyable than it is to me, and much more enjoyable for those who find it somehow boring. Told in first person from the perspective of each Godwine brothers, it engages the reader not only because of the way the story is told, but also thanks to a great narrator, who brought this part of history into reality. I'd certainly recommend this audiobook.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Summary: Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King’s most trusted adviser, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor’s death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person asp Summary: Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King’s most trusted adviser, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor’s death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn’t particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame. This is a story of Godwine’s family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OF GODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers. This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor’s reign. Unfortunately, Godwine’s misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha’s disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold’s career was just beginning as his father’s journey was coming to an end. Harold’s siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig’s case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective. Harold was his mother’s favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig’s vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig’s love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY. My Thoughts: After a prologue narrated by Queen Editha, the wife of Edward the Confessor, the story alternates narration between her brothers: Harold, Tostig, Leofwine, Wulfnoth, and Gyrth. Each of the Godwine brothers tell the story of the events from their point of view: the history surrounding them and their personal stories. A strength of The Sons of Godwine is in telling the dynamics of the Godwine family: the brothers disagreements and rivalry. A weakness of The Sons of Godwine is I felt all the brothers voices sounded similar. I did not perceive a distinct crisp voice for each brother. A strength of The Sons of Godwine is the unfolding of historical events in the years before William the Conqueror became England's king. A weakness of The Sons of Godwine is the story is strong on narration and less on a scene or descriptive style. Many of the sentences begin with "I", "I said" and "I was." For me, I prefer a story that is a strong blend of narration and scene. A story where I can perceive and understand the internal goings on of a person (their thoughts and feelings) and also see the person and their surroundings through a descriptive scene. I want to be swallowed up in the story. I want to feel what the characters feel and see what they see. There is some reflection from the characters minds, but I did not feel it was deep enough. Over-all the book is an easy read and entertaining. I feel it is a good beginning point for a person who is interested in reading a historical fiction story of the Godwine family. Source: Free paperback copy from Mercedes Rochelle in exchange for a review. Rating: 3 stars for good

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    At first, I was disappointed with the book. Ms. Rochelle changed her style of writing from 'telling a story' to having the characters tell the story from their point of view. We do not hear much about the children of Godwine--Harold and Tostig are the ones most mentioned. Ms. Rochelle allows us to see each of the older male children and the daughter who married King Edward. At times, I found myself arguing with Ms. Rochelle about a matter, but I realized I was comparing her research with other r At first, I was disappointed with the book. Ms. Rochelle changed her style of writing from 'telling a story' to having the characters tell the story from their point of view. We do not hear much about the children of Godwine--Harold and Tostig are the ones most mentioned. Ms. Rochelle allows us to see each of the older male children and the daughter who married King Edward. At times, I found myself arguing with Ms. Rochelle about a matter, but I realized I was comparing her research with other researchers. Everyone has their opinion about events that happened in the past. Very interesting format; I enjoyed the book. As a disclaimer: I received my copy of "The Sons of Godwine: Part Two of the Last Great Saxon Earls" from the author, but I would have purchased the book--I enjoy reading Mercedes Rochelle.

  7. 4 out of 5

    M.

    Great historical fiction story. I won this in a contest and I am looking forward to reading other books in the series.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark Schultz

    What a wonderful retelling of a long-lost story! The author has pulled off an exciting reconstruction of a tale filled with intrigue and danger to so many of the participants. Mercedes uses the first person point of view of many different characters, one chapter each, for showing the action and details of these events from over a thousand years ago. I love first person POV, it provides an intimate reading experience, that isn’t found in other point of views. Mercedes is quite expert at bringing What a wonderful retelling of a long-lost story! The author has pulled off an exciting reconstruction of a tale filled with intrigue and danger to so many of the participants. Mercedes uses the first person point of view of many different characters, one chapter each, for showing the action and details of these events from over a thousand years ago. I love first person POV, it provides an intimate reading experience, that isn’t found in other point of views. Mercedes is quite expert at bringing the culture and daily life of people born so long ago to life. The scene setting leaves nothing to be desired, dialogue is wonderful and the characters seem so real and alive. You are going to love this book, there is action, intrigue, international politics, romance and horses. Something for almost everyone. I give “The Sons of Godwine” a score of 4.9 stars! The score would have been higher except for the handful of spelling errors I found. The author has told me the errors are fixed and your reading experience will be improved.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Review coming soon!

  10. 4 out of 5

    S. Nomakeo

    I loved this book. A wonderful retelling of the famous family from their own perspective. A harsh time inBritain's history about the last king of England before the normandy invasion. I loved this book. A wonderful retelling of the famous family from their own perspective. A harsh time inBritain's history about the last king of England before the normandy invasion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    gj indieBRAG

    We are proud to announce that THE SONS OF GODWINE by Mercedes Rochelle is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells a reader that this book is well worth their time and money!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Iciek

    The unsteady years prior to 1066 are what led to William the Conqueror's success at Hastings. Edward the Confessor was a weak king who survived by playing off the stronger earls and bishops and assorted other climbers against each other, including the family of Earl Godwine, the strongest of them. Harold and Tostig Godwineson were the strongest of the great earl's sons and were shown in this novel to have more than a little sibling rivalry between them. The author's imagining of the family dynam The unsteady years prior to 1066 are what led to William the Conqueror's success at Hastings. Edward the Confessor was a weak king who survived by playing off the stronger earls and bishops and assorted other climbers against each other, including the family of Earl Godwine, the strongest of them. Harold and Tostig Godwineson were the strongest of the great earl's sons and were shown in this novel to have more than a little sibling rivalry between them. The author's imagining of the family dynamics of the Godwinesons shines a welcome light on this time before the Anglo-Saxon kings of England were extinguished. The story is told in various 1st persons - the voices of the sons of Godwine (Swegn, Harold, Tostig, Gyrth, Leofwine, and Wulfnoth) and his daughter, Edith (wife of Edward the Confessor) each recount their side of the events in the 15 or so years prior to 1064. This provides a relatively balanced explanation of the events of those years that a story from only one point of view would not . To my mind, the story began slowly at first, but by the end becomes compelling as we approach the better recorded episodes that led up to the Conquest of 1066. Recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Sefton

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dona Garrettson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Krista C

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anna Romanov

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nealy Emmerling

  19. 4 out of 5

    Traci Westlund

  20. 4 out of 5

    Helen Hollick

    This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review: " Mercedes Rochelle uses separate segments for each brother to tell his view-point, and as the reader we can never be certain whether they are telling the truth or not" Helen Hollick founder #DDRevs This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review: " Mercedes Rochelle uses separate segments for each brother to tell his view-point, and as the reader we can never be certain whether they are telling the truth or not" Helen Hollick founder #DDRevs

  21. 5 out of 5

    edward c coakley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Debbi DuBose

  23. 5 out of 5

    sally d cunningham

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nola Sim

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roger Bradford

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter B

  27. 4 out of 5

    anthonysabino

  28. 4 out of 5

    Keri Brooke

  29. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sweetpea

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