Fortune's Knave: The Making of William the Conqueror: A Novel

Mary Lide, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (269p) ISBN 978-0-312-09293-1
The perilous youth of a leading historical figure yields an absorbing narrative in Lomer's ( The Seascape ) vivid portrayal of 11th-century European life for both the high- and low-born. Seven-year-old William, bastard and only son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, is heir to his father's lands and titles. After Duke Robert's death on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, however, ambitious relatives try to cast William's claim aside on the grounds of his illegitimacy. The boy and his mother take brief refuge with France's weak king, Henry I, who wavers in support of William, torn by gratitude for Robert's loyalty and suspicion of the boy, who is prophesied to be a conqueror, possibly of France itself. When William returns to Normandy, his cousin Ralph de Gace, arranges the assassination of most of his protectors. Escaping with his mother's brother, William lives among peasants for a year before beginning to gather his supporters, who are drawn by the generous and charismatic young man. Entwined is the story of his awkward but successful wooing of the prickly and intelligent Matilda of Flanders. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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