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The Last English King

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  573 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
On September 27, 1066, Duke William of Normandy sailed for England with hundreds of ships and over 8,000 men. King Harold of England, weakened by a ferocious Viking invasion from the north, could muster little defense. At the Battle of Hastings of October 14, he was outflanked, quickly defeated, and killed by William's superior troops. The course of English history was alt ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published December 13th 1999 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published December 4th 1997)
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Bryn Hammond
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: imagined-fiction
First: vividly written, feelingly, very high on ‘reality-sense’, atmosphere and peoplehood. With that, creative, unusual, and determined not to be your ordinary histfic. Also, fantastic writing. I didn’t skip once, through boredom with a description or thinking I know what the author’s going to tell me {or not until the idyll near the end. Right, I skipped once}. He knows how to craft a place-description so that even I, a poor visualiser, see. His description of people – and there I’m an aficion ...more
I have been seriously bogged down with this book. It started out so good but then went off the rails and never picked up again.
Quite a few things bothered me with the story. The disjointed current and past stories that didn't really mesh and weren't told in the same styles. The excessive amount of sexual content was often quite creepy and in general not required for the storyline. Having William the Conqueror say "dashing good fellow" was funny but I'm pretty sure not historically accurate and
May 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
What a brilliant mind Julian Rathbone has. Of course I may not always agree with it, or appreciate it, but overall, I don't think it can be denied. The man is a brilliant writer.
The story starts with Walt. A Housecarl for Harold Godwinson. He fought in the Battle of Hastings and lived through it, sans one hand. Disgraced at having not died with his King, he wanders foreign lands aimlessly until he meets Quint, a scholar, an ex monk. They travel together and as they travel, having mild adventures
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great story of the Norman conquest narrated by a servant of the losing king. Makes the Normans look pretty awful...vividly imagined, with lots of references to geographic features that still exist today in Wessex...interesting characters and narrative that sustained my interest until the end, even though I knew the outcome.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very fun, very enjoyable read. The book initially caught my attention because of the snippet from the Bayeux tapestry used on the cover--and I wasn't disappointed. Rathbone is a good writer, who develops character well and who weaves a vivid, gripping narrative. Although my knowledge of the available documentation on the personalities of the historical characters (William the Bastard/Conqueror and Harold, primarily), I greatly enjoyed the characters Rathbone created for them. His knowledge and ...more
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
c1997: FWFTB: Norman, Walt, monk, Quint, 1066. Interestingly, the author counters criticism before it has even been raised in his Author's note at the start of the book. It is an interesting take on the events leading up to the Normal 'conquest' and some historical figures in ways that are quite different to those portrayed by, say, Jean Plaidy et al. It is humorous and the prose is uncluttered with unnecessary hyperbole and the like. I did not know before reading this book tha the author used t ...more
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, historical
If like me your school history classes gave the impression that the Norman Conquest was in some way a Good Thing this books is essential reading.It describes Harold's rise to the top and demonstrates that he was an excellent politician diplomat as well as warrior and king. One is forced to speculate as to what England could have been like had he not fallen at Hastings in what must have been the last throw of the dice for the desperate Normans. The language I'm writing this in would be very diffe ...more
Jul 26, 2011 added it
The idea behind this is great (the story of the Norman Invasion and the Battle of Hastings as told through the eyes of one of King Harold's men), but its execution is actually pretty woeful. The writing and characterisation are uneven and unconvincing and I found Rathbone's style both irritating and and ultimately frustrating. This novel could, with a little care and attention, have been excellent. Sadly, Rathbone's approach is so slap-dash that I didn't end up caring about the characters, and n ...more
I simply love this book.

It is the story of Walt set at the time of King Harold [he of 1066 - arrow in the eye fame]. Walt was a Housecarl, one of the mighty Roayl bodyguards and the book tells the history of England, through his eyes, of the years leading to and including the Battle of Hastings.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Told from the Saxon side,especially as the Bastard(s) generally write history.Exciting,good read. Sad,at times.Better than usual swash,buckle and slash.Also entertaining in parts.Read the intro first and bear in mind the authors'indulgence',which raises a grin when you come across it!
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Julian Christopher Rathbone was born in 1935 in Blackheath, southeast London. His great-uncle was the actor and great Sherlock Holmes interpreter Basil Rathbone, although they never met.

The prolific author Julian Rathbone was a writer of crime stories, mysteries and thrillers who also turned his hand to the historical novel, science fiction and even horror — and much of his writing had strong pol
More about Julian Rathbone...