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The Bastard King (Norman Trilogy #1)

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  532 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews


This glorious novel chronicles the life of William the Conqueror, the bastard son of the Duke of Normandy, from childhood until his death in 1087.

He is destined to succeed his father as the Duke of Normandy but questions about his legitimacy mean he consistently faces challenges from potential usurpers in the Du
Paperback, 333 pages
Published May 13th 1977 by Macmillan (first published December 31st 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,217)
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A former girlfriend introduced me to the author, who goes by several other pen names.

Her books are quite short but tend to be well-paced. Additionally, she is very accurate Historically, so, unlike GLADIATOR or BRAVEHEART, movies which I love but which are not accurate, you are getting a good coverage of what you missed in school.

Story follows the life of William the Conqueror, starting with his father's rise to power, William's birth and then an internal struggle. We then follow his path as h
Feb 14, 2014 Ruth rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
c1974: FWFTB: Matilda, ambitious, crown, Harold, title. I am 99% convinced that this is actually a re-read. I used to devour Ms Plaidy's books and there was a time where I read nothing but historical novels. It certainly helped with O Level history! I did find the story a little irritating at times. I know that the author was trying to fill in the gaps of historical fact (remember, though, that history is written by the victor) but some of the interactions with the cast of characters were just a ...more
Phil Syphe
Apr 17, 2015 Phil Syphe rated it it was amazing
This novel based on King William I of England, aka William the Bastard, aka William Duke of Normandy, aka William the Conqueror, had me hooked from start to finish.

Ms Plaidy opens the tale before William’s birth, showing how his parents met and why he was destined to be baseborn. I’m glad the author did this, as I knew nothing of these earlier events.

I love the way we get to see William grow up, evolve into one of the all-time great generals, and see him right through to his death. Despite some
Jan 03, 2010 Deb rated it liked it
This book flamed my fascination for William the Conqueror. Several years after I read it, I visited Bayeux in France and got to see the Bayeux tapestry. Very exciting.
May 06, 2013 Marie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
4.5 stars
Read the review here:
Stephanie Burkhart
Jun 15, 2011 Stephanie Burkhart rated it really liked it
William is the bastard son of Robert the Magnificent and Arlette, the tanner's daughter. Can William find peace and love with such tempestuous beginnings?

Plaidy is at her historical finest with "The Bastard King." Set in the 11th Century, Robert, an heir to the Duke of Normandy, falls in love with a common woman. Arlette gives him a son, William. Robert intends for William to become the Duke of Normandy after his death. Robert's tenure as Duke is filled with passionate highs and sorrowful low po
Nov 23, 2009 Tania rated it it was amazing
This is the story of William the Conqueror – Duke of Normandy and King of England, son of Robert the Magnificent and a long line of Dukes of Normandy. Such a wonderful foundation was set by first telling part of the story of Robert the Magnificent and his love story with Arlette, daughter or a tanner who might not have been a suitable match on paper but was the perfect match in heart.

We are walked through William’s life and delighted at the turn it takes when he finds his own true love in Matild
Mary Collin
Jul 14, 2015 Mary Collin rated it it was amazing
What a joy! I first read this back in the 70s and loved it. It got me fascinated with the Normans and the Plantagenets. That fascination has stayed with me ever since. I was concerned I'd be disappointed (re-reading) as I had such a high opinion of it. I couldn't have been happier to reconnect with these amazing books. It's great to rediscover the wonderful Jean Plaidy. I'm hooked all over again almost 40 years on.
William was the bastard son of a nobleman, Robert the Magnificent and a common woman. Matilda was a Princess of Flanders. Together they ruled the Duchy of Normandy with their eyes on the kingdom of England. In 1066 this came to be along with the start of a monarchy that has lasted almost 1000 years.
Donna Jones
May 03, 2016 Donna Jones rated it liked it
love anything about William and his family. I believe I would have loved it more had I read it when I was younger and knew less about William and Matilda so could learn through the book.
I knew next to nothing about William the Conqueror and his family, besides 1066 and all that jazz, before reading this novel. It prompted me to do my research and I read about the real Bayeaux Tapestry, Doomsday Book and Battle of Hastings, among other things. As always, Plaidy introduces unforgettable characters and it will take me quite awhile to forget them. Matilda is a tough woman, but her and William's relationship makes sense. Their relationships with their children are complicated and, e ...more
Aug 26, 2009 Kristen rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! My friend saw the title and said "WHAT are you reading?" It is a historical fiction novel based on the Duke of Normandy/ King of England known as William the Conqueror (he was born out of wedlock, hence the title of the book). It was a very clean book, no bad language or crude parts, and I loved learning the history of this very early time period of European rulers. I will definitely read the next book in the series.
Mar 08, 2012 Lois rated it it was ok
This is the first book in the Norman Trilogy. Jean Plaidy writes fiction about the kings and queens of England. This one is about William the Conqueror. I didn't like the title, just saying. The author does a pretty good job developing her characters, and this one was full of people with plenty of selfish ambition, desiring revenge, a refusing to forgive. This book lacked a good hero, however, which is why I rated it two stars.
Sep 30, 2010 Joy rated it liked it
William the Bastard fights his way to a new name, William the Conqueror. The author's Victoria Holt style puts her simplified Jean Plaidy writing style to shame, but I was interested in her interpretations of William and his wife Matilda. I was even willing to follow William's career with sympathy for the length of this book.
Mar 23, 2013 Kathleen rated it it was ok
When I was younger I read all of Victoria Holt's books. Victoria Holt was another pen name that Jean Plaidy wrote under. I was expecting the same standard of writing (perhaps now I'm older my expectations of what a good writer is, has increased). I felt the characters were under developed and the whole book lacked sparkle.
May 19, 2008 Kathee rated it liked it
It was okay - got a bit long, despite being only a couple hundred pages. It is the first in a series of three about this particular family. If you are enjoying the stories about the Tudors, this might be good to add to your list. Jean Plaidy has several to read - most are really awesome.
Kayla Tornello
Aug 21, 2013 Kayla Tornello rated it really liked it
William the Conqueror was born a bastard, but managed to become both the Duke of Normandy and the King of England. This is a novel about his life. The author does a good job of bringing the central characters to life. Even so, there is nothing truly memorable about this book.
James Burns
This is the first book of Jean PlaiDy's I Ever read, And I Was Hooked. Her Story Telling and Historical accuracy Makes for a Great Read. The fist time I Read This Book Was in 1987 before I kept A log. I have reread This Book and Many others. I Highly Recommend Her
Rayna  (Poindextrix)
Aug 19, 2011 Rayna (Poindextrix) rated it really liked it
A great piece of historical fiction, Plaidy takes readers through the childhood and rise to power of William the Conqueror. This book is a masterful mix of history and characterization of one of England's great rulers.
May 11, 2013 Helen rated it really liked it
I first started reading Jean Plaidy books as a young teenager when my grandmother introduced me to them. This is one I had never read. Fast paced story with great history. really brings the period alive for me.
May 21, 2009 Denerick rated it it was ok
Read it when I was much younger. Interesting little read; Plaidy is a decent historical fiction writer. But a little outside of my area of interest I must say...
May 02, 2013 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
My first Jean Plaidy. I got a stack of her books at a library sale. I enjoyed the history and writing in this one, so look forward to reading more.
Angela Joyce
Jun 04, 2010 Angela Joyce rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Donal
What fun! William the Conqueror and his folks are at LEAST as exciting as the Tudors! Have they had their own show yet?
Mar 05, 2014 Khrisered rated it really liked it
Thought it was a worthwhile introduction to 1066 and all that!
Feb 02, 2010 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Great novel of William the Conqueror, brings his time to life.
Sonya Wanvig
Sep 18, 2011 Sonya Wanvig rated it it was amazing
Great. Fascinating man. Fascinating woman. And all true
May 09, 2013 Michele rated it really liked it
4 solid formulating in my head now...
Sara W
Jul 18, 2007 Sara W rated it really liked it
William the Conqueror
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Oct 12, 2015 07:31AM  
Victoria Holt, J...: Part 3: The King 26 10 May 14, 2013 08:04AM  
Victoria Holt, J...: The Traitor thru Adelisa in Love 27 12 May 13, 2013 04:58AM  
Victoria Holt, J...: * The Birth of the Bastard thru The Seed is Sown 15 13 May 06, 2013 02:47PM  
Victoria Holt, J...: Group Read: The Bastard King 11 11 Apr 05, 2013 09:19AM  
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Eleanor Alice Burford, Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy which had sold 14 million copies by the time of her death. She chose to use various names because of the differences in subject matter between her books; the best-known, apart from Plaidy, are Victoria Holt (56 million) and Philippa Carr (3 million). ...more
More about Jean Plaidy...

Other Books in the Series

Norman Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Lion of Justice (Norman Trilogy, #2)
  • The Passionate Enemies (Norman Trilogy, #3)

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