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The King's Shadow

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  628 ratings  ·  84 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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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  628 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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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
Zane Jones
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had tears in my eyes two separate times at the end. (view spoiler) But overall, I loved it.
I wanted to enjoy this book, and I really thought I'd love it. I liked it very much when I read it twice as a preteen, even though I disliked Anglo-Saxon history. I thought I would love it upon rereading it ten years later, since now I'm someone who loves books that feature the Anglo-Saxon period along with Wales in the Dark Ages. I often enjoy books even more as an adult when I liked them, but didn't fully appreciate them, when I was younger. So my hopes for this book were high, since it seemed ...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.
Nevaeh Millar
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Loyalty, loyalty is something that's really important to me and in this book, the author paints a beautiful picture of it. The main character Evyn of Carmarthen is very loyal to his king Harold and along this very long and devastating journey, he learns how to be faithful and fearless. I really enjoyed this book.
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
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
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
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.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Taylor Lara
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don't you love it when a book surprises you? I read this one as a part of my goal to read every book in my library's Jr fiction section and I was wholly prepared for it to be mediocre. It was not. I finished it days ago and yet my mind is still with the characters in the story, wondering about their future. It is made all the more magical to learn that nearly every character in the book was a real person who lived this story in real life in 11th century England, as Britain went from Saxon to Nor ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
In a world that values Oral History, Storyteller Evyn tragically gets his tongue cut out. His freedom is taken, but then even that becomes a blessing as he is able to serve The Lady and His King. He learns the healing arts, to read and write, to be a warrior. I love the comments about courage and fear.
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.
Liz F.
This was a great book, I really enjoyed it! The characters were really cool, but this book was different than a lot I've read because of the time period it was in. (1062-1066) All the history was really interesting too. I would recommend to readers of 12+ (content: war, lots of injuries, etc.) 4 stars! :)
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.
Matthew Hickmott
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this when I was a boy! This book stuck with me through the years! So much I had went out and searched for it! Incredible book! It is a Young Adult book.. but worth a read if you are looking for something that is just an all around decent book
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story just throws you right into the thick of things. I got mad at the ending, then realized 'this is history... school would have been the ultimate spoiler... if I had cared enough to pay attention.'
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
Jordan Lombard
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
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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
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