Shieldwall – Justin Hill

Readable historical fiction set in 11th century ‘England’ under the rule of Æthelred the Unready and his son Edmund Ironside and the almost annual depredations of the Danish Army, told through the eyes of Godwin Wulfnothson – later the powerful Earl of Wessex.

Three main frustrations for me: formulaic and inconsistently characterised female characters (Kendra in particular), concepts that felt out of place (eg revolution) and details I found hard to believe (eg riding boots with heels). Actually, there’s a fourth: the use of till instead of ’til or until – a junior school correction that has stuck in my memory.

Bernard Cornwell does Anglo-Saxon England better – although his The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories focus on the earlier era of Alfred the Great.

That said, Justin Hill does do one thing that Bernard Cornwell does not – and that’s include snippets of the type of Scandinavian poetry that would have been heard in the great halls at the time.

And Shieldwall did prompt me to find out a little more on the topic of people’s names, and about the main character, Godwin: Aelfraed and Haranfot: Anglo-Saxon Personal Names and Cnut and the Rise of Earl Godwin.

Author’s page: Shieldwall – Justin Hill