The Coming of the Wolf
This book comes heralded as “The prequel to the bestselling and beloved novel The Wild Hunt” for which the author won a Betty Trask Award, and which I have also read, and totally agree with the sentiment. It begins on the Welsh Marches in August 1069, almost three years after the Battle of Hastings, and goes on to relate the lives of the Norman conquerors, the English lords and the Welsh who then populated this area of Britain. In the opening chapter, Lyulph, an English thegn, lives with his wife Christen at Ashdyke Manor. Christen’s brother, Osric, runs with the Welsh borderers. Suddenly the keep is overrun by a band of Normans, Lyulph is killed and Osric taken prisoner by the Norman leader Miles le Gallois, who is half-Norman and half-Welsh himself, his father being a Norman who had settled in the area and married a Welsh girl. Thus we have links with all three factions.
As always, Elizabeth Chadwick’s research of both the actual history of the period and the social habits and expectations is immaculate. Her attention to detail serves to add all the colour needed to bring it all to life, and her characters leap off the pages, which keep turning relentlessly until the reader reaches the final words. The glossary of who’s who at the beginning – and there are many of them – and the author’s notes at the end both help to set the scene so that the reader is totally involved from beginning to end. I think I have read all of Elizabeth Chadwick’s historical novels and have yet to be disappointed. I look forward to the next one. Highly recommended.