The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My mother got me this book from one of the monthly Scholastic mailers I brought home from school when I was in sixth grade. I remember enjoying it immensely, as I was keenly interested in English and Welsh history at the time. Reading it as a young adult, however, is a slightly different experience.
The story centers on a Welsh boy, Evyn of Carmarthen, who is a peasant but has a beautiful voice and is destined to become a storiawr. However, his tongue gets cut out and he is sold into slavery. Through a long series of circumstances, he becomes a right hand man to King Harold during his brief reign before William conquered England in 1066.
Alder blends romanticism with authenticity, and it's rather odd. While she paints a bleak portrait of peasant life and the harsh reality of the wars, she describes Lady Ealdgyth's manor and Harold himself in glowing terms. She also has a very formal writing style, which carries through to the dialogue- serfs and royals speak alike.
However, it's an absorbing, quick read, that delves just deep enough into a historical event that usually doesn't get remembered.
Read June 1, 2010 in about an hour
One book down, 999 to go.