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CompleteMartialArts.com - Rite of Conquest

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Binding: Paperback
Format: Bargain Price
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 375
Publication Date: 2004-09-15

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Editorial Reviews:

For 500 years the Saxons ruled England, crushing the ancient powers. But a wave of change approaches. Across the Channel in Normandy, William is born-the bastard son of a duke and a magical woman of Druid descent.

As he grows to manhood, William's battle skills earn him respect, but his temper and disregard for his innate magical abilities hold him back. He needs a teacher, whether he wants one or not, and finds one in the beautiful French noblewoman Mathilda. But William is resistant to the very idea of magic, and unless he can accept Mathilda's help-and her love-his imperfectly controlled abilities may destroy him. In an epic battle that spans worlds and ages, magical forces and earthbound armies will be drawn together by William as he fights to achieve his destiny-and reign as King of England.

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Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Rite of Conquest
Comment: Judith Tarr is an author I generally like. I've read a number of her books, and they are often quite interesting, even if you have to suspend disbelief. Rite of Conquest is well-written. Unfortunately, I don't think this book is one of her best. In order to make William "the Conqueror" "fit" her "Arthurian" image, she has to do a lot of "playing" with what is historically known, and the result is a tale that doesn't look like any histories I've ever seen of this period. That, in itself, is not bad; it's p ossible in fantasy and science fiction to play with historical "realities" to a certain extent. However, she plays so much with the realities of the time, that the characters simply become unbelievable. Their motivations are not rooted ini any actual context(which I think even a "historical fantasy" writer must accept), but in what she would "like", based on certaiin tropes popular among (some) fantasists: namely "happy pagans" and "magic practitioners". She comes up with some pretty odd practitioners of these arts, e.g. Lanfranc, who was later Archbishop of Canterbury. And she makes William a lot "nicer" than he probably actually was, ignoring the fact that the English probably considered him little more than a thug with a crown on his head. But as I said, she writes well, and if the reader is able to keep a very large grain of salt nearby, it is enjoyable.
Anne G

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Not a Bad Historical Fantasy about William the Conqueror & Matilda
Comment: This is the historical fantasy version of William and Matilda. They are both blessed/cursed with great magic. William is also the reincarnation of King Arthur (which I found extremely difficult to swallow). It follows William and Matilda from 1047-1066 in primarily Normandy & England. The overall story was ok but it was not riveting.

My biggest problem with this novel is the idea that William is actually King Arthur reincarnated. I find it difficult to believe that "William/Arthur" would have been able to justify the slaughter of his own "countrymen" to rightfully rule again.

I enjoyed Judith Tarr's "Pride of Kings" & "Kingdom of the Grail" much more. I guess that's because the stories were more realistic and grounded more in fact rather than so much fantasy/magic such as this one was.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: spellbinding historical fantasy
Comment: Rite of Conquest
Judith Tarr
Roc, Oct 2004, $16.00, 384 pp.
ISBN: 0451460022

In 1047, William the Duke of Normandy tries to ignore the magic that flows through his veins as he battles pretenders and contenders who wish to replace him. The old magic thrives in Normandy with beneficial spirits who want to help mankind. Powerful sorceress Mathilda, daughter of the Count of Flanders, is sent to the French King's court where William has come after winning a decisive battle abetted by King Henry.

When William meets Mathilda, she lectures him on the use of his magic so that he does not inadvertently hurt himself or others. Fearing the magic that is the antithesis of Christianity, William flees to his Normandy, but cannot forget Mathilda. He proposes marriage and she accepts. They may forge a dynasty across the Channel where the Church has thrown out the magic, but William must first defeat King Harold.

The story of William's rise to power, consolidation of that power, and his marriage to Mathilda are part of the history books, but also cleverly interwoven into a spellbinding historical fantasy that once again shows why Judith Tarr is the mistress of the sub-genre. Her unique slant on the events leading to 1066 makes for a fun and fascinating read. The use of magic as a benign tool while the battles provide a more mundane (though interesting) look at William's claiming of the throne with church approval maks for a fascinating juxtaposition. RITE OF CONQUEST is a definite keeper.

Harriet Klausner

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