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The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer - Fiction
The true story of the bastard son who made himself a king and the woman who melted his heart.
The stirring history of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, who invaded England and became the King. His victory, concluded at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, is known as the Norman Conquest.
Known for her exhaustive research and ability to bring past eras to life, bestselling author Georgette Heyer tells the story of William the Conqueror, who became King of England in 1066, and his queen Matilda, the high-born noblewoman who at first scornfully spurned him. William was an illegitimate child of a nobleman, who won his dukedom through force of will, and went on to bring European feudalism to England, along with a program of building and fortification that included the building of the Tower of London.
The historical novel includes Heyer's brilliant period language and her perfect grasp of the details of the day - clothing, armor, weapons, and food - making for a fascinating and blood-stirring read.
Bonus reading group guide available inside.
"From the moment when the infant grasped his father's sword with a strength unusual in one so young, William showed himself a leader among men.
The Conqueror grew out of an incredible amount of historical research into the way of life, the way of speech, the way of thought, and feeling, and praying in the Eleventh Century. Without sacrificing the flow of her plot, Miss Heyer conveys an understanding of this period, more authentic as well as more colorful than many historical tomes. It is obvious in reading this novel that Georgette Heyer is indeed a mistress of her craft."- Best Sellers
"Perfect craftsmanship." - The New York Times Book Review
"Georgette Heyer achieves what the rest of us only aspire to." - Katie Fforde
"My favourite historical novelist." - Margaret Drabble
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Excerpt:Excerpt from Part II:
The Rough Wooing
‘He must be a man of great courage and high daring who could venture to come and beat me in my own father’s palace.’
Saying of Matilda of Flanders
As the long ship heaved on the waves one of the hostages gave a whimper, and curled his body closer, with his knees drawn up. Raoul was standing by the bulwarks, looking out over the sea. A pale moonlight turned the water coldly silver, shimmering under a night-blue sky; now and again flecks of foam glistened as though a star had dropped into the sea. From the masthead lanterns hung as beacons to show the other vessels where the Duke’s ship rode. A small cabin built in the stern had a leathern curtain across the opening, and where this fell away from the doorpost a crack of yellow light shone. Amidships an awning sheltered the hostages. A lantern was secured to one of the supports; its glow illumined the faces of the three who crouched there on fur skins. Overhead a fitful wind bellied the sails, and from time to time the canvas slapped in the breeze, and the ropes creaked and whined.
Again the youngest of the hostages whimpered, and buried his face in the mantle of the man who held him. Raoul looked over his shoulder with a faint smile. The boy was so young and so unhappy. As he looked, the man holding the child raised his head, and his eyes, which were of a cold northern blue, encountered Raoul’s. After a moment of grave regard he lowered them again to the fair head upon his knee.
Raoul hesitated for a while, but presently picked his way over the men who lay sleeping in their cloaks, and came into the light of the lantern under the awning. The blue-eyed man looked up at him, but his expression did not change.
Raoul, who had been charged with the comfort of the hostages, tried in a few halting Saxon words to speak to him. The hostage interrupted with a slight smile, and said in Norman: ‘I can speak your tongue. My mother was a Norman out of Caux. What is it that you want of me?’
‘I am glad,’ Raoul said. ‘I have wished to be able to speak to you, but you see how ill I am learned in your Saxon tongue.’ He looked down at the youngest hostage. ‘The boy is sick, isn’t he? Shall I bring some wine for him? Would he drink it?’
‘It would be kind,’ Edgar replied, with an aloof courtesy that was rather chilling. He bent over the boy, and spoke to him in Saxon. The child – Hakon, son of Swegn, grandson of Godwine – only moaned, and lifted a pallid woebegone face.
‘My lord has not before been upon the sea,’ Edgar said in stiff explanation of Hakon’s tears.
The third hostage, Godwine’s youngest-born, Wlnoth, a boy hardly older than Hakon, woke from an uneasy sleep, and sat up, rubbing his eyes. Edgar said something to him; he looked curiously at Raoul, and smiled with a semi-royal graciousness.
When Raoul came back with the wine Hakon seemed to be exhausted from yet another spasm of sickness. When the drinking-horn was put to his lips he sipped a little between sobs, and raised a pair of tear-drowned eyes to Raoul’s face. Raoul smiled at him, but he drew further back into Edgar’s hold, as though he were shy, or perhaps hostile. But he seemed better after the wine, and inclined to sleep. Edgar drew the furs more closely round him, and said curtly: ‘My thanks, Norman.’
‘My name is Raoul de Harcourt,’ Raoul said, determined to persevere in his friendly advances. He glanced down at Hakon. ‘The boy is over-young to leave his home. He will be happier in a day or two.’
The ConquerorBy: Georgette Heyer