Shieldwall

Justin Hill

Shieldwall

The year is 1016 and England burns while the Viking armies blockade the great city of London. King Ethelred lies dying and the England he knew dies with him; the warring kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex and Northymbria tremble on the brink of great change. One man lives to bear witness to the upheaval: Godwin, barely out of boyhood and destined to become one of his country's great warriors. When Ethelred's son Edmund takes the throne, determined to succeed where his father failed, he plucks Godwin from domestic peace to be right-hand man in his loyal shield wall. Godwin must traverse the meadows, wintry forests and fogbound marshes of Saxon England, raising armies of monks, ploughmen and shepherds against the Viking invader. With epic courage and ferocity, Godwin and Edmund repel the butchering Danes in three great battles. But an old enemy, the treacherous Earl Eadric, dogs Godwin's footsteps, and as the final battle approaches, around the valiant English the trap begins to close. 2.8 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Shieldwall

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre Historical Fiction
Format Hardback
Pages 416
RRP £17.99
Date of Publication May 2011
ISBN 978-1408702789
Publisher Little, Brown
 

The year is 1016 and England burns while the Viking armies blockade the great city of London. King Ethelred lies dying and the England he knew dies with him; the warring kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex and Northymbria tremble on the brink of great change. One man lives to bear witness to the upheaval: Godwin, barely out of boyhood and destined to become one of his country's great warriors. When Ethelred's son Edmund takes the throne, determined to succeed where his father failed, he plucks Godwin from domestic peace to be right-hand man in his loyal shield wall. Godwin must traverse the meadows, wintry forests and fogbound marshes of Saxon England, raising armies of monks, ploughmen and shepherds against the Viking invader. With epic courage and ferocity, Godwin and Edmund repel the butchering Danes in three great battles. But an old enemy, the treacherous Earl Eadric, dogs Godwin's footsteps, and as the final battle approaches, around the valiant English the trap begins to close.

Reviews

The Times

Kate Saunders

An exciting, imaginative and gripping reminder — refreshingly free from any attempt at “antique” language — that there was life in the old place before the Norman invasion.

14/05/2011

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The Sunday Times

Nick Rennison

Written in supple, intelligent prose, which carries echoes of the wordplay in Anglo-Saxon poetry, Shieldwall is a vivid historical novel. Hill not only succeeds in bringing the distant world of pre-Conquest England to life but, in Godwin, has created a complex character whose struggles to be true to his ideas of faith, duty and friendship are entirely convincing.

03/07/2011

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The Observer

Susan Hitch

Hill's writing is not consistent; it sometimes lapses into dullness, platitude and less successful archaism. I believe in his battles and loyalties; I believe in his emotional geography; I'm not convinced by the women and I'm irritated by the occasional anachronism. But I shall be waiting for the next novel in the trilogy Hill has promised.

10/07/2011

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The Guardian

Ian Mortimer

… the unending tone of military hardship and betrayal would be fine if there were contrasts in the ways in which characters dealt with this psychologically; but only Godwin's inner struggle is treated in any depth … What Hill does very effectively is to ram home the message that life was short and harsh even for the wealthy.

17/06/2011

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The Independent

Roz Kaveney

He has made the intelligent, but wrong-headed, decision to take the Icelandic sagas as his model for representing public life, with the result that his characters stand around being taciturn when not hitting each other with axes. Combining the Hemingwayesque with touches of what EP Thompson called "the massive condecension of posterity" — the presentation of their cultural life as utterly barren — makes, much of the time, for a dull read.

01/07/2011

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