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The King's Shadow

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  584 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
Evyn, a young Welsh serf, has dreamed all his life of becoming a storyteller. But in a cruel twist of fate, Evyn and his father suffer a brutal attack by a group of murderous ruffians. Evyn's tongue is cut off and his father is killed. Orphaned and unable to speak, Evyn assumes he is destined to a life of slavery. But Evyn is resilient and teaches himself to read and write ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 7th 1997 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1995)
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Jun 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This is one of those books where the more you know about history--specifically, the era around William the Conqueror--the more is spoiled. Having a passing knowledge of the era, I read with an idea of what was to come.'s quite good. All the basics are in place. Developed characters, good pacing and plotting, and a researched world. Which leads into The King's Shadow's greatest merit, in my eyes: it understands how people actually THOUGHT in this time.
A lot of historical fiction will st
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was almost worthy of Rosemary Sutcliff, in both story and writing. The Author's style does a wonderful job in capturing the love of the Briton countryside and heritage, as well as weaving historical fact and fiction together superbly. Her battle scene was well written, unlike so many modern stories. She did not focus on the fighting as individual scenes, like a movie does, but as a whole, and yet she does not neglect relating certain events through Evyn's eyes. Her storm-at-sea, too, was re ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book back in 2010. So my review is dated. But 7 years later I can't stop thinking about the book. I thought it was really enjoyable. A historical fiction, that covers the reign of Harold Godwinson via a mute page.

I thought it followed the history book pretty well. While taking the time to shapshot surfdom life.

Any book that keeps me thinking back to it 7 years later deserves high praise. I'm putting this on the re-read shelf.
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It is excellent historical fiction. It deals with the period of 1063 to 1066 in England when some extraordinary noble, ethical and kind leaders ruled as well as some extremely ruthless and barbaric rulers existed. It is a very interesting time in history. You can't help but be rooting for Earl Harold and Evyn throughout the book.
Nov 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who liked that battle of hastings
good read for those who like history action and bloody scorne and betrayle
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago and loved it. Not sure if I'd enjoy it as much as an adult, but I remember it fondly.
Theresa Clauson
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I honestly think this book is amazing. Like, there's no other way for me to describe it. Going into this, I knew practically nothing on the historical context, so everything was a surprise to me. If you're thinking about reading up on the time before you read--DON'T. Trust me, I strongly recommend that you read to find out.
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This one is a begrudging like. I love so very many things about this book... but the depths of sorrow are almost overwhelming. Since it is often recommended for Middle Schoolers... especially as a Living Book, I just say beware the sensitive reader. It is amazing for immersing the reader in the era and the trials... but it is very sad.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
Evyn, a young Welsh serf, dreams of becoming a travelling storyteller - until an encounter with murderous ruffians leaves him mute and orphaned. When his Uncle Morgan sells him into slavery to Lady Ealdgyth, Evyn is unable to communicate with the others in the household where he works. But Lady Ealdgyth takes mercy on Evyn after he breaks his arm and sends him to a monastery, where Lewys, an unusual monk, teaches Evyn to read and write and also teaches him about duty and honor. Eventually, he se ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Was I hormonal?? It made me cry.
Jacob  Pippin
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Read this with my 7/8th grade students for Literature class.
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I've read it at least four times now. Even though Evyn, the main character, can't talk past the first chapter, I found him very easy to connect to. He finds other ways of expressing himself to you, mostly through his thoughts. Within a few paragraphs, I felt I knew him well, and I enjoyed growing with him. With him being in the situation he is, it could be very hard to avoid confining the reader to his head, making the story narrow and absorbed in the character, but Elizabeth A ...more
Talia Smart
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn Reeder
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
o jh
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I started reading this to my nine-year-old, but it was a little intense for his sensibilities (a murder and a mutilation occur in the first chapter); I found it interesting enough to continue reading on my own. Being unfamiliar with the specifics of much of English history, (view spoiler)

The main character is primarily a conceit to recount the brief reign of Harold
Jori Richardson
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Jori by: Mrs. Shirlene Jones, "the lady with the magical library" of my childhood
"The King's Shadow" is the medieval story of Evyn, a mute boy who serves Earl Harold of Wessex as his scribe and personal companion. As his father-son like closeness with the Earl grows, Evyn finds himself caught up in the events leading up to a horrific Battle of Hastings, where he and everything he knows will be forever changed.
This is a powerful, well written story, and was always one of my favorites of childhod. The writing style is as poetically eloquent as the bard's songs that Evyn loves
May 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read this with my son because it was required for school. It was pretty tortuous to drag through. One reason I like historical fiction is you learn history without even knowing it because you're having so much fun. This book had it's fictional storyline about Evyn, then the author would take a page or two as an aside to explain the history, then return to the fictional character. If it is going to be written that way, might as well read a textbook.

Also, Evyn was such an improbable character. O
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Still in an Arthurian mood, I found this young adult novel on my shelves to read. But where I had just read about Merlin and King Arthur trying to keep the Saxons out of England, this book moves forward in time and we see the Saxons trying to keep William of Normandy and the Vikings out of England. Young Evyn from Wales dreams of being a storyteller, but then his tongue is cut out by some bad-tempered aristocrats and he is sold as a thrall. Luckily for him, his new owner is perceptive and sees h ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This was a read-aloud that my husband read to our family as a part of the history that we were studying last year and it was a great book! It is a wonderful work of historical fiction, set during the years just preceding and leading up to the famous Battle of Hastings. It weaves a fictional character, Evyn, into the real-life intrigues and complexities of life in Britain toward the end of the Anglo-Saxon rule. This book does an admirable job of chronicling the events that led up to the Battle of ...more
Claudine Sazelleb
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the book for the young adults and adventurers at heart!
The book talks about English history and the main character in this story is Evyn; who wish to become a bard or somewhat a storyteller. He was mutilated (his tongue was cut off!) one rainy night when he pissed off some noblemen in a tavern. But he was then saved by his uncle and sold him to slavery. Evyn, tried to find a way to commute with people. My heart felt like it was in pain about Evyn's condition but i felt relief after when
Jordan Lombard
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read2012
I'm not sure why I kept reading this story. I was interested in it mainly because the main character was both mute (from having his tongue cut out) and illiterate. But his learning to read and write was glossed over where I would have liked to read more on that. I felt like a lot of this novel was a summary of events, but even so, I continued to read it. The ending... not sure how I feel about it. It's definitely not a happy one. I would have preferred that. It almost seems like "what's the poin ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Though I do not care for the portrayal of Duke William as an immature monster or for the fact that the story does not seem to be written from a Christian worldview, I have to say that The King's Shadow is one of my favorite books. Evyn is a compelling character, deeply passionate and easy to relate to, and the story as seen through his eyes carries the same traits. All of the historical characters seem like real people and I could sympathize with almost all of them. The morals are very good, and ...more
Cameron CLC
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The King's Shadow is about a serf named Evyn who wants to be a storyteller. He is stuck on his land like his father and his father's father. However, a storyteller can move around because everyone will give food and shelter for a night in return for a good story. But, when his tongue gets chopped off and his father killed, in an attack from some ruffians Evyn looks destined for a life as a slave. But, Evyn is resilient and works hard. He learns to read and write in a monastery.With this rare abi ...more
KarinaB CLC
This book was slightly boring in my opinion, but got very surprising at time. I also cried at one point because there was a part in the story that was just so flabbergastingly sad. This book would've been much better to me if I was a fan of adventure and all that, but I am more into fantasy and romance so I didn't enjoy it as much. If you are an action and adventure reader, I highly suggest this book. Although I am not a fan of adventure, I still enjoyed this book because it was just so engaging ...more
Sebastian CLC
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
The King's Shadow was an enjoyable read. It was great at times and slow at others. One of the main issues for me was the climax was about halfway through the book, though it seemed later at the Battle of Hastings was when the climax was intended to be, while it was really falling action. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, especially understanding the scenarios of individuals.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
The King's Shadow is about a young man in the Medieval times named Evyn who gets his tongue chopped off and gets sold into slavery. He then learns to read and right and saves Earl Harold life. For doing this he gets freed from slavery and becomes Harold's squire. He travels around with Harold, each taking turns to save each others life. Evyn goes to war in the Battle of Hastings with Harold where he stays with Harold until the end of Harold's life and comes near death himself doing it.
NicoleD CLC
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
In my opinion the "The Kings Shadow" was a good book. I thought the ending was very bitter sweet, but I really liked it. I connected with The main character Evyn throughout some of the things he was experiencing. For example, when he lost someone he loved he was very distraught. I have also lost someone I loved and I was very distraught as well. Overall I thought the Kings Shadow was a good book. If you like historical fiction this is definitely the book for you.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting kids/YA story of a mute Welsh boy who's taught to read and write and become King Harold's "shadow" in the years leading up to the battle of 1066. A few liberties were taken with the history, but then it is fiction, and a few passages were somewhat reminiscent of Shakespeare's Henry V speeches prior to Agincourt. Overall a good read, though.
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just love everything about this book. I like the characters and the loving/understanding nature of Harold toward Evan. I'm glad that Evan finally learned that life can go on and be good even though bad things happen that you can't really control. I like the historical nature of it and after reading it I looked up the history to learn more. Very good.
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookswatch
I have read lots of historical fiction, but not much of it takes place in this particular time period, the time of Harold, the last Saxon king who is defeated by William the Conqueror. I thought it was very interesting, and Alder does a good job of keeping the story humanized. Because that's what history is about - people.
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“There is no magic herb that makes a brave man. Courage is knowing that what you do is necessary. Don't doubt yourself, Shadow. There is more valor in your heart than you realize.” 8 likes
“The King once said to me, 'Harold, you stand above all other men.' I said, 'No, Sire. I want nothing more than to stand shoulder to shoulder with my men. I am nothing without them.” 8 likes
More quotes…