Set in 11th century England after the Norman conquest, The Forest Dwellers is a fictional account of the death of William the Conqueror's sons, and employs a host of different points of view to tell the story. There is beautiful Alys, willing concubine to men she believes will protect her in difficult times; Aelf, a young archer, who hides an intriguing secret, and openly hates the Normans; Leo, Thurold, Giles and Tyrell, all with fascinating stories to tell which interweave with one another in interesting ways. Almost all of the characters are endearing, and those who aren't are intriguing. There were times in this book when I felt bewildering by events, as I didn't have all the facts at hand, but as I read on, I learned what I needed to know in a much more natural way than is possible in a single-point-of-view novel. As each protagonist's story unfolded, the gaps in another's tale were filled in. I found this approach gave me a multi-dimensional understanding of both the...
I love works of historical fiction and I was eager to read about the time just after William the Conqueror and his Normans invaded England from the Saxon perspective. Judith Arnopp's The Forest Dwellers did not disappoint. There is adventure, sadness, danger, betrayal, and love all leading up to one of English history's most famous mysteries: Who killed William Rufus?
The story is told first person from several characters' perspectives. It begins with a small little put together family of young people who have lost their parents to war and living as a conquered people. They are the Saxons who live in King William I's New Forest and must eek out an existence under the new harsh forest laws. They try to fight to regain the forest home that they have lost, but it fails and they go through many hardships. This is a story of loss, but it is also the story of their survival and that of some of the Norman's closely related to their tale.
Judith Arnopp is a writer I have recently discovered and so far I have enjoyed each one. Arnopp does very fine research and utilizes a blend of both historic and fictional characters as in this tale of the post Norman Conquest and The New Forest. Walter Tyrell and his brother- in- laws the de Clares had been part of the hunting party where King William Rufus lost his life butneither had any reason to wish him dead.Conventional wisdom today is that his brother, who became King Henry I, had the most to gain.The brothers were not at all close and their father William had divided his property in a way that invited quarrels.William Rufus had made many enemies both in the Forest that he cleared to make his hunting preserve and in the kingdom that his father had won.
Aelf and Alys who were the main characters as well as being fictional served the authors purposes very well by removing the need to change historical facts.A delightful book and quite well done
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