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Rite of Conquest (William the Conqueror, #1)
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Rite of Conquest

(William the Conqueror #1)

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  23 reviews
For 500 years the Saxons ruled England, crushing the ancient powers. But a wave of change approaches. Across the Channel in Normandy, William is born-the bastard son of a duke and a magical woman of Druid descent. As he grows to manhood, William's battle skills earn him respect, but his temper and disregard for his innate magical abilities hold him back. He needs a teacher ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 5th 2004 by Roc
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3.44  · 
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 ·  169 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Rite of Conquest is a new a new edition to my list of favorite books. I loved the mix of history, magic, and incredible character development.
[3 and 1/2 stars]
A solid but flawed outing from Tarr, with a satisfyingly different take on the Norman-Saxon dynamic, sympathetic characters and a couple of rip-roaring battle scenes. In addition to this, the courtship between William and Mathilda was rather delightful; I hadn't realised that they were one of the "great love matches of the Middle Ages", and Tarr certainly did them justice here (without it ever becoming epically overwrought as such romances tend to). However, the plot frequently
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The 4 star rating is really significant because usually I dislike the 'woo woo' mystical magical type of book. I don't buy it so it takes a really good writer to sell me. But once I am sold, I enjoy it and this book, with its historical background and excellent characterizations and settings, was great. Totally looking into the rest of the series.
Like Guy Gavriel Kay, Tarr takes history and makes it fantastical. But unlike Kay her fantasy world is clearly the same one in which we live, and that creates problems. By taking historical characters as her heroes, Tarr makes it hard for the reader to suspend their disbelief; memories of the 'real history' constantly challenge her story-telling.

The Normans invaded England. The Saxons may have invaded before them, but that doesn't make the Norman conquest any less of an invasion. Tarr gets round
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this novel up in a bargain bin and I kinda wish I left it there and not wasted five dollars. It's relatively a short book at three hundred and forty odd pages, but it took me way too long to read.

The novel is loosely ( and I mean, VERY loosely ) based on William the Conqueror. It's of course, fantasy driven with many confusing ideas and beliefs of the pagan religion that was so long dead, it does not make any sense that anyone would even put Pagan and William together other than this bo
Mar 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: speculative
I got this book at Shopko on sale, 2 for $5.99. That should tell you something. Genre all the way. I was mentally toast, a crispy critter, and needed pure escapism. It worked pretty well. I'm guessing that the author likes those ancient churches all over Britain as much as I do. The exact construction dates of lots of those churches are lost in time, but many of them can say with certainty that they were there when William the Conqueror did his inventory.

This book was a fanciful retelling of Wil
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: france
This book is a fascinating read about who Guillaume le Conquérant really was and what his purpose in that life was -- the true mystical meaning of his life. I suppose that most will label it "pure fantasy," due to the sad fact that our so-called "modern" society has lost touch with the unseen spiritual causes and purposes behind everything that is. However, there are legends from my ancestral lands of Normandie and Bretagne in France, about what is written in this book. And legends are based on ...more
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Judith Tarr's William the Conqueror was born of magical blood; and his wife-to-be Mathilda of Flanders was ordered to teach William how to control his magic before it destroys him. England is his destiny. The magical Old Things are slowly dying in the iron prison of the Saxon version of Christianity, but William and Mathilda can heal them once William is bonded with the land. The Saxon Christian church reminds me of the one in Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE MISTS OF AVALON.

At first it was disconcer
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a rambling story that focuses less on the historical people, relationships, and events and more on the war waged between those who would reinstate the old magic, and the powers of the Otherworld, into Britain. Tarr's depiction of crowds of spirits and otherworldly creatures is an interesting take on the relationship of magic to the mundane world. She is ambiguous about the relationship between magic and the Church. She hints at a vast struggle between two forces, but from the perspective ...more
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I guess the book was nice and fun to read, and for a bargain bin of $2 I have no right to complain.

However, as someone who has read history and knows the consequences of the Norman conquest of England, this book is just too far fetched. William was not a nice man; he was a brutal despot who killed countless Saxons and in fact died burning an innocent French village in 1087. I guess I shouldn't complain about non-realism in a fantasy novel, but I found it hard to root for the Normans, who histor
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like historical fiction
Recommended to Stephy by: My librarian's daughter
When I label this book Mental health, it means I desperately needed something not terrifyingly serious to read. This is a fun read about the life of William the Conquerer, with an imaginary love interest that gives answers to many questions better left unasked. It's a step up from Romance novels, which is saying a lot. It held my interest. I didn't much care that it had ended, though. In truth, William's personality, as pictured throughout history, makes a picture of a man really unlikely to hav ...more
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Astrid Tallaksen
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As always, Judith Tarr paints an amazingly complex story that somehow merges history and magic seamlessly. William the Conqueror, Henry Godwine, King Edward (of England) - the story of the Norman invasion of Britain is so interesting to begin with, but when you add magic and intrigue to spice it all up, with characters that seem so real (and they were!), it's just hard to put down.
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This isn't Judith Tarr at her best, but Judith Tarr at less than her best is still better than a lot of others. It's fairly classic for her, mixing magic and Druidism with the Christian Church, using historical figures about whom historical fact never gives us quite enough information. I'd recommend it as a light read.
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting blend of historical fact with magic and fantasy! I did appreciate Ms. Tarr's accuracy in the historical realm. As a former secondary school history teacher, this book might just get some students excited about history!
Jei Lamkin
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Was pretty good. Enjoyed the descriptive flow that just barely slowed the reading down but not enough to distract you. Greatly enjoyed the druidness. Not into historicals so I can't speak about that part of it all. Good read overall.
Aug 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: wrote-review
This was a very good book, but the timing was off for me. Tarr doesn't write so much "in" the character's head, which is what I've been enjoying lately. However, it was a very interesting twist on a fascinating period of history.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wm. Brings magic back to England, yet a bit dull
The book was building a world that seemed quite interesting, but I kept falling asleep.
Sep 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Not her best but still a good read
Dec 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: from-library, gave-up
Mathilda of Flanders is a sparkly witch? I could not get into this world at all. Gave up after 50 pages.
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the story but didn't find it enthralling.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's been some time since I first read this, but I remember I was consumed with this re-telling of the Norman Invasion. Judging from other reviews, I may need to read it again to refresh my memory...
Kelli Meyer
rated it liked it
Aug 04, 2008
rated it liked it
Feb 10, 2013
rated it really liked it
Sep 19, 2011
rated it did not like it
Sep 05, 2011
Elisa Clawson
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Feb 27, 2008
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Apr 01, 2012
Mary Regan
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Jul 22, 2014
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AKA Caitlin Brennan, Kathleen Bryan.

Judith Tarr (born 1955) is an American author, best known for her fantasy books. She received her B.A. in Latin and English from Mount Holyoke College in 1976, and has an M.A. in Classics from Cambridge University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University. She taught Latin and writing at Wesleyan University from 1988-1992, and taught at the

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