Wolves in Armour

Written by Iain Campbell
Review by Richard Denning

This is the first book of the author’s Norman Conquest trilogy. It tells the story of a young Norman noble, Sir Alan Gauville, who joins William the Conqueror’s army just before the crossing to England. At Hastings he intervenes to help the Duke, and is later rewarded by being granted a manor and associated “Hundred”, a collection of villages in the area of Colchester. Once there he settles to the task of fortifying the manor, building an army and dealing with Viking invaders, local bandits, and a romantic thread in the form of his wooing and eventual marriage to a local Saxon noblewomen.

Campbell clearly enjoys his historical detail and he has spent a lot of time researching life, traditions, customs and legal affairs of the 11th century, with much of his gleaned information forming the narrative background. Which, from a historical view is highly interesting, but perhaps at the cost of slowing the pace of the plot down.

The author has created a detailed, well developed world of early Norman England, but attention to more characterization would have enhanced the storyline. Wolves In Armour could benefit from some of the in-depth details being trimmed down to allow the underlying over-shadowed story to come to the fore.

There is a story here – a very good one. Campbell has a deep interest for this period; to bring his characters to life and expand their portrayal he needs to liberate that passion into the fictional element as well as the historical.  However, for readers who prefer to learn something from the fiction they read, this is an ideal exploration of England during the early years of the Norman Conquest.