cover image Lord of Sunset

Lord of Sunset

Parke Godwin. Eos, $13 (466pp) ISBN 978-0-380-72675-2

Prolific Godwin (Return to Nottingham) tells the tragic story of Harold of Wessex, the earl who overcame his scruples to succeed Edward the Confessor as king but reigned for only a year before he was cut down at the Battle of Hastings. Threatened by civil strife and Norman invasion, the English court of the mid-11th century is a treacherous place where loyalties are tested and trusts routinely betrayed. Harold's noble family mirrors England's fractiousness: Harold sends one beloved brother into exile and kills another. Yet the most poignant relationship in the novel is between Harold and his common-law wife, Edith, whom he loves deeply and, according to church law, can never marry. Godwin skillfully uses multiple voices to tell his story--Edward, William and Harold's brothers, father and sister all get a chance to speak. Most engaging among them is that of sharp-witted, resilient Edith. Some readers may wish that Godwin continued to place Edith at the center of the story. Instead, she fades into the background as the novel focuses increasingly on military and political entanglements and Harold's difficult choices between love and country, happiness and power. (July)