This book transports you back in time. You smell the stink of the rushes on the floors, see how the rich tapestries are moulding because the walls are so damp and you realise a knight was just a farmer who owned a manor and could wield a sword unlike his Saxons fieldworkers and who was a soldier his overlord could trust to come when needed. To your surprise the castles are not the French stone keeps you remember but just a kind of hill forts with a wooden palisade and a few thatched roofed buildings inside. It also surprised me how the Saxon era was forgotten in two generations. I can understand that people had no clue what prehistoric burial mounds were but something so recent!
The book is set during the Anarchy.
In the book we meet William and his two brothers and one sister who live on a Norman farm in the south of England. Their father just died fighting for the king as a knight and their mother suffers from depression due to loosing her husband. The siblings are all between 14 and I guess 18 as none is yet married. Although they are descendants from the Norman invaders who came to England two generations ago and they belong to minor nobility they suffer severe hunger during the winters and have to fear for bandits.
Two visitors arrive at the farm. An old uncle returning from the Crusades with stories to tell and guidance for the children and a young man from France who is waiting, he says, for a book the nuns are copying for his family who will train William. Life gets a bit less gloomy.
But then all of a sudden William finds himself in the middle of the civil war.
I can certainly recommend the book to everyone from 14 and up. A young person will enjoy the adventure of a group of people his own age and we the older ones will be enthralled by this tale of the past.
A 10 star out of 5!!!!