I reviewed this book once some time back but amazon apparently cleared it off in one of their software retooling fits so the original text is now lost. Still, Hope Muntz' tale of Harold and William and their epic tug-of-war for the throne of England which ended in the bloody Battle of Hastings in 1066 is worth writing about again (though I haven't the patience or energy to attempt to recap the full text of that now lost review).
I'm a lover of historical fiction and have never found any book in that vein better than this one. Written in a terse saga-style which evokes the original time and place of the events recounted, THE GOLDEN WARRIOR offers a time-warp experience which puts us directly in the medieval world on the eve of the final fall of the last of the English kings. Some have found the style of the text a bit off-putting and distant in its early stage but I have never found anyone who, once reading beyond the cool, objective saga like beginning, has failed to admire the book at the end. If there are failings, and there are, they revolve around Muntz' portrayal of Harold, Earl of Wessex and later King of the English, as a man who is almost too good, too perfect to be believed. And yet he is vividly brought to life here along with an entire cast of brilliantly rendered folk including his beloved common-law wife, Edith Swan Neck, and his relentless rival and, finally, foe, William of Normandy. In fact it is William who seems more fully shaped, though Harold, in the end, is the one we cry for. And we do, or at least I did, finding tears on my cheeks when I came to the final battle . . . and this more than once. There are not many books, I think, which can do this but here is one which does it over and over again.
For those who love historical fiction, especially set in medieval England, and for those who admire the old sagas or tales of vikings and such, this book is to be sought and treasured. But it is less an adventure than a tale of real people in serious times. The tale of the fall of Harold has never been better told in my opinion than in this veritable English Iliad and I cannot urge it strongly enough.
But if you've already read it or if you have no luck in finding it, you might try another which, while not quite as good (I regret to admit) may also be of interest to readers of this one. It's THE KING OF VINLAND'S SAGA, also available on-line and currently in print. Since I wrote it, I wouldn't mind if readers of this "page" wanted to take a look at it as well!
Stuart W. Mirsky author of The King of Vinland's Saga
P.S. Here are some other good ones in a similar (historical) vein but in no particular order:
Hope Muntz has done an amazing job with this novel. Studentsof history will appreciate it as it is almost (but not quite) likereading from the source documents, and it gives the characters really strong identities without romanticising them the way so many authors are tempted to. Although it is out of print it is worth seeking a pre-loved copy. You won't regret it.
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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