The Splintered Kingdom
After distinguishing himself at the battles of Hæstings and Eoferwic (York), Tancred a Dinant, who doesn’t know too well whether to call himself a Norman or a Breton, is rewarded with lands of his own, not far from the Dyke, the troublesome Welsh border. But if he thought to settle into the life of a minor lord, with the occasional Welsh raiding party for all trouble, Tancred was very much mistaken. King Guillaume’s hold on his new island is dreadfully precarious, and dispossessed English, Welsh and Danes are ready to join forces to see that it remains so – at the very least. When barons and knights are summoned to take up arms, it won’t be long before Tancred’s ambition and bluntness place him in the midst of events – at the head of a dangerous raid into Wales, and in a morass of rivalries and distrust.
This is a vigorously written, well researched tale of post-conquest England told through Norman eyes, with a rich, detailed setting, plenty of exciting battles, and a protagonist/narrator who is a real pleasure to read. Honourable, brave, and conscientious, Tancred often finds his good intentions ruined by his own headstrong rashness, and a talent in making dangerous enemies. I found it impossible not to root for him as he fought his way through all sorts of hazards – and the fact that this book is the sequel to a previous novel, Sworn Sword, didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it. Recommended.