It’s been nigh on 90 years since the Normans came to stay and to rule, and it was a tough time to grow up a Saxon. Wimer, though is made of stern stuff and survives the second class treatment meted out by the Norman elite. His intelligence and adaptability such that he can rub shoulders with and become friends with the future Henry II.
Once again, I found myself immersed in a period of time that I’m not that familiar with. A time of Sheriffs and the fiduciary demands of the King and the Church. Ahh, the Church, a subject that at once fascinates and infuriates me. Wimer is caught up in the fervor of reaching heaven, not only for himself as a priest but for those he cares for in that capacity. An unfortunate set of circumstances and a bitter feud between Henry and his Archbishop Thomas a’Becket has dire results for Wimer and culminates in a decades long search for peace of mind and soul.
The author has crafted an intriguing tale based on the scant historical evidence of Wimer’s life, and has with meticulous care provided a believable picture of 12th century England. Well researched and shot through with creative story telling, the reader can feel the weight of emotions and the pulse of the countryside; the absolute hold of the church on every facet of life and the cruel backlash of falling afoul of either secular or spiritual rulers. I am certainly looking forward to the sequel. 4.3 stars