In Peaceweaver, Arnopp has woven a tale of hope and love around the epic Battle of Hastings. Eadgyth, daughter of Ælfgar of Mercia, is forced into marriage with Gruffydd ap Llewelyn of Wales to seal an alliance between the two kingdoms. Her loveless marriage provides her with children and eventually the welcome attentions of her stepson Rhodri. Over time, Wales becomes her home and her longing for fellow Saxons lessens. When battle overtakes their stronghold, she is captured by Earl Harold and taken to England. In the court of Edward the Confessor, she pleads for the safety of her children who are in hiding with Gruffydd. When Gruffydd is overthrown and betrayed by his own men, Harold reunites her with her sons as he promised.
Eadgyth has caught the eye of Earl Harold, the eventual successor to King Edward the Confessor and with Edward’s death, Eadgyth is once again Queen. The tale ends as it begins, with the Battle of Hastings. Eadgyth, widowed and in hiding, resolves to survive and preserve her sons’ survival and legacy by escaping into Wales until the day they can reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
Other than the simple facts that Eadgyth was the daughter of Elfgar of Mercia, wed first to Gruffydd and then to Harold, the historical record is silent. In her author’s notes, Arnopp explains who was real and who was created to support the story. She also makes clear that this is primarily a work of fiction set during a fascinating period in English history and told from a woman’s perspective. I found it an entertaining and pleasant diversion on a long plane flight.