In the Shadows of Castles by G. K. Holloway – Book Review

In the Shadows of Castles by G. K. Holloway – Book Review

In The Shadows of Castles by G.K. Holloway

In the Shadows of Castles

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It’s the 1060s, and William of Normandy is establishing a new and brutal regime in England, but there are those who would defy him. As Norman soldiers spread like a plague across the land, resistance builds, but will it be enough to topple William and restore the rightful king to his throne? The English have the courage to fight, but the Normans, already victorious at Hastings, now build castles seeking to secure their tenuous foothold in these lands.

And what of the people caught up in these catastrophic events? Dispossessed but not defeated, their lives ripped apart, the English struggle for freedom from tyranny; amongst them, caught up in the turmoil, are a soldier, a thane and two sisters. As events unfold, their destinies become intertwined, bringing drastic changes that alter their lives forever.

Firmly embedded in the history of the Conquest, ‘In the Shadows of Castles’ is ultimately a story of love, hope and survival in a time of war.

Review by Clive

Back in 2016 I enjoyed reading and reviewing G K Holloway’s historic novel What Fates Impose which covered the events leading up to the Norman Invasion including the battle of Hastings in 1066. In the Shadows of Castles is the long awaited sequel, covering the following four years during which time there were attempts to rebel against William the Conqueror and restore the throne to an Englishman.

William’s response to the plans to depose him were met with dreadful violence, particularly in the northern counties of England where vast areas were laid waste. Towns, farms and villages were burned down, livestock slaughtered, food stocks eaten or destroyed. Many people were massacred and if they were not they starved to death as there was little food or shelter. This is often referred to as The Harrowing of the North during which the northern counties of England lost 75% of their population. Interestingly, the results of this devastation is even recorded in William’s commissioned survey of England in the 1080’s which is now known as the Doomsday Book.

Holloway again appears accurate in his portrayal of historical events and he includes many interesting small facts and details. My favourite, which was chronicled at the time, was that people voluntarily gave themselves up to slavery as the only alternative to starving.

As far as I can remember, What Fates Impose only included real historical characters but this time the author has included some fictional characters to help tell his story. This enables him to give some close detail and a little bit of cheesy romance. Thus we follow Bondi, Whitgar, Morwenna and Elfwyn through various adventures adding some excitement to what could otherwise be a grim tale.

I found In the Shadows of Castles informative and exciting. The mix of fact and fiction helped to understand the times. In 2016 I gave What Fates Impose five stars and I am now delighted to do the same for In the Shadows of Castles.

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G. K. Holloway


G. K. Holloway did several jobs after leaving school before taking A Levels at his local college and later a degree in History and Politics at Coventry University. Once he had graduated, he spent the next twenty years working in education in and around Bristol. After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he studied the late Anglo-Saxon era in detail and discovered a time of papal plots, court intrigues, family feuds, loyalties, betrayals, assassinations and a few battles. When he had enough material to weave together fact and fiction, he produced his award-winning novel, ‘1066: What Fates Impose’, the first in a series about the Norman Conquest. G. K. Holloway lives in Bristol with his wife and two children.

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