Cold Heart, Cruel Hand

Author - Laurence J Brown

Exhilarating account of the 1070 fen rebellion - 5 stars

I was looking forward to the sequel having enjoyed the exiting visceral battle scenes of Housecarl, Brown's first historical novel. I was not disappointed.

We move forward 4 years from the Battle of Hastings to 1070 when William the Conqueror is ruthlessly tightening his grip on the Saxon people, strangling any resistance. The novel kicks off at blistering pace with the fall of the uprising in York. The hero, Ranulf Redbeard, last of Harold's Housecarls and his young family escape the horror and the flames and make their way to the Isle of Ely where a group of insurgents led by the charismatic dispossessed Saxon lord, Hereward the Wake, are planning a large scale rebellion.

William ruthlessly, and on several occasions unsuccessfully attempts to crush the rebels camp. Tense battle scenes ensue, as the Normans build their now infamous bridge-like causeway across the flooded swamps whilst being picked off by Hereward's brave warriors.

The action is interspersed with a duel between Ranulf and the evil "Le Couteau", one of William's best knife fighters, in a quest to rescue Ranulf's young son who has been kidnapped by Le Couteau. Troubles in Hereward's own personal life and an infatuation with Ranulf's wife bring a new depth to Brown's writing as the book races to an unforgettable conclusion.

I thoroughly recommend this book both to readers wanting to learn about the English history of the time and those just wanting an enjoyable read.

P.S. Do not start this book unless you have 48 hours to set aside. You will not be able to put it down.

An Amazon customer from the United Kingdom