I Am The Chosen King

Written by Helen Hollick
Review by Tamela McCann

There are many historical fiction authors I admire: writers who can tell a good story, keep my interest, and whisk me away to times and places far away. There are, however, very few of whom I am in awe; ones whose writing skill and depth are so encompassing that I am no longer an observer of events, but a participant. Helen Hollick is that sort of author, and I Am the Chosen King is arguably her best writing.

The story begins after Hollick’s The Forever Queen; Edward the Confessor is now king, though his mother Queen Emma is still making her presence known. Edward is a weak king, often finding himself at odds with the powerful Godwin family which holds many of the earldoms of the kingdom. Among Earl Godwine’s formidable sons is Harold (later Harold II), seen here as a noble man whose heart is held by his hand-fast wife, Edyth. Though the Godwine family’s power is far-reaching, in Normandy another young man is eyeing the English throne; Duke William is a driven ruler who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. All of these strong personalities are brought vividly to life through multiple viewpoints over a twenty-year period that culminates with the Battle of Hastings.

My knowledge of Saxon England is murky, but Helen Hollick’s writing is so rich and vibrant that it was not difficult to lose myself within the world she recreated. Especially to her credit is her ability to help the reader distinguish among the shared names, and there is a most welcome Author’s Note at the end. The depth of character is outstanding; the home and battle scenes equally captivating. This is an exquisite saga that will envelop you wholly. (Revised version of the author’s Harold the King. – ed.)