Housecarl is an extraordinary first novel from a man with a passion for language. Laurence J Brown is a Lincolnshire solicitor in his forties who sold out the entire run within six months when it came out last year - and who has attracted serious interest from the Castle Rock film company in Hollywood and from Mel Gibson's company, Icon.
The book is about the year 1066, a turning point in British history. Across the Channel the ruthless, ambitious Duke William prepares his great invasion fleet for the conquest and crown of England. In the north, Harold Hardraada, the warrior King of Norway, another claimant to the crown makes his own preparations for battle. And caught between them is Harold Godwineson, the embattled English King, who orders his personal champion, Ranulf Redbeard, to recruit men for his elite Housecarl regiment.
Within the space of a month three great battles change the course of
history as the land runs with blood. Brown's chilling descriptions of
slaughter and carnage put the reader right at the heart of the savage
conflict. Sensibly, he has chosen a modern literary style rather than
the tortured, archaic phrasing used by some writers of historical
fiction, which means that you can race through the book at the speed
of the fast-moving events it describes.
Essentially, Ranulf is the hero of the story, and he is the sole Saxon survivor of the Battle of Hastings. Already Brown is working on a sequel in which Ranulf continues his fight against the invaders from Normandy.