Prince John Comnenus seeks out the Old Man of the Mountains in the western Peloponnese, determined to acquire the wisdom he will need to rule theByzantine Empireon the death of his father. Godwin of Ely tells him the story of the warrior Hereward of Bourne. Impetuous and unruly, Hereward is outlawed by King Edward and begins his journey towards knowledge. Entrusted with a powerful Talisman and guided by Torfida, his beloved wife, Hereward journeys round Europe acting as a mercenary to King Macbeth and William of Normandy amongst others.
With England’s future under threat, Hereward returns to his homeland with Harold Godwinsson and, when Harold is proclaimed King, Hereward fights with him on Senlac Ridge. He survives the battle and escapes to lead the resistance against William I’s oppressive rule. Hereward will be remembered through the generations and why he will become known as Hereward the Wake – Last of the English. Through his experiences Hereward has become a wise man and passes his final years as Godwin of Ely, living far from home, and willingly passes his wisdom to Prince John, who will himself become a wise and honest ruler.
This is a fabulous adventure story, gritty, gory and unflinching. It takes the real historical character of Hereward and spins a mesmerising story around his exploits in the 11th Century. Like Robin Hood, Hereward is part man/part myth and the fables around his life were just ripe for re-imagining.
Although not strictly necessary, the Epilogue and Prologue do bookend the story suitably and the inclusion of the Talisman also added an extra, mystical, dimension. Conquest is a very visual and visceral novel that would also work well as a screenplay. If you like plenty of action and adventure then this is definitely worth getting.