Book Review: In the Shadows of Castles (Book 2 of the 1066 Saga) by G K Holloway

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Silverwood Books
Pub date: 15 June 2022

It’s the 1060s, and William of Normandy is establishing a new and brutal regime in England, but there are those who would defy him. As Norman soldiers spread like a plague across the land, resistance builds, but will it be enough to topple William and restore the rightful king to his throne? The English have the courage to fight, but the Normans, already victorious at Hastings, now build castles seeking to secure their tenuous foothold in these lands.

And what of the people caught up in these catastrophic events? Dispossessed but not defeated, their lives ripped apart, the English struggle for freedom from tyranny; amongst them, caught up in the turmoil, are a soldier, a thane and two sisters. As events unfold, their destinies become intertwined, bringing drastic changes that alter their lives forever.

Firmly embedded in the history of the Conquest, ‘In the Shadows of Castles’ is ultimately a story of love, hope and survival in a time of war.

Having read the first in the series 1066: What Fates Impose I was really looking forward to the next instalment.

The sequel begins in the aftermath of 1066; William the Conqueror is about to be crowned.
Bondi, a housecarl had fought on the side of Harold Godwinson at Hastings and is too ashamed to spend time with his fellow housecarls.
He decides to travel to Ireland but doesn’t make it far before his life takes another path.
He meets sisters Morwenna and Elfwyn who are wonderful characters. This trio of housecarl and two shieldmaidens make for an incredible journey of loss, triumph and loyalty.

Holloway has created a page turning story of the hardships faced by the English after the Conquest. No detail is spared. There are some gruesome scenes of death and destruction as well as detailed descriptives of the battles and landscapes along the way.

I didn’t much like William in the first book of the series 1066: What Fates Impose and I disliked him even more in this. He comes across as arrogant, boastful and merciless.
I adored the characters of the sisters and became invested in their storyline as well as that of Bondi and his friend Whitgar.
As this instalment ends I can’t wait to read the next and read more about the fate of those characters I’ve come to really like.

Holloway provides a map and a list of names which is extremely helpful to those like myself who aren’t as knowledgeable about this era as others. I thought I’d need the list of names more than I actually did. Holloway writes in a way that makes it clear who is who without repeatedly referring back to the list but I found it a great aspect, particularly at the beginning.

Reading about the various battles and events of the time has definitely given me more of an interest in the era, particularly how William came to build the castles he was so famous for. Holloway has implemented his knowledge of the time, bringing it to life in a fantastic story of events and fates of the English.

If you’re looking for something historical with lots of battles and featuring great characters then I definitely recommend In the Shadows of Castles. You don’t need to have read the first but this is an excellent sequel and I’d highly recommend reading both!

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