Friday, December 05, 2008

The Conqueror


Heyer, Georgette. 1931. The Conqueror.

File this one under as being an almost-review. An almost-review of a book that seemed to have no end. Maybe the original audience--British folks in the 1930s--would have been so well-educated or schooled in the history of the era--William the Conqueror--that The Conqueror would not have seemed so daunting. Perhaps their textbooks gave it more than a sentence or two in passing. Still, for a novel--not a nonfiction text--this one is quite heavy. This is the first time that I wished there were cliff's notes for a Georgette Heyer novel.

Let's take the glass half-full approach, The Conqueror is rich and abounding in details. It was obviously meticulously researched and reads more like an epic chronicle of a long-gone era. Is that a positive enough spin?

What would make The Conqueror a better book? I've got several suggestions. How about an introduction with at least five paragraphs on the birth, life, and death of William the Conqueror. Perhaps explaining the context for the novel. How about a time line? Something that organizes both facts from William's life and facts from the countries involved. How about a list of characters? I'm assuming that at least half of these characters are grounded (loosely or not so loosely) in history. I'd expect at least a few to be fictional--maybe more. But fictional or historical, a list of characters would have proven invaluable.

I suppose Heyer had a sink or swim approach with her writing. None of the characters--none--are introduced slowly; none merit a description or explanation. At least history books are written in such a way as to guide readers gently but surely into knowledge. They assume you need all the help you can get. I kept reading and reading thinking surely this is the chapter where suddenly everything will click, will begin to make sense. It's not that I'm a lazy reader. It's not that I'm completely hopeless when it comes to history. But I think there is a gap between what readers should reasonably be expected to know and what this book expects.

I wanted to like this one. I haven't given up completely on it. I may do some research and go back to it at some point. But not until I've read up on William the Conqueror.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Anonymous,  3:25 AM  

"The Conqueror" isn't my favourite Georgette Heyer (my favourite is "Devil's Cub"), but I liked it well enough, and I wasn't over-burdened with a knowledge of William the Conqueror at the time of reading it. (I'm not British)

But if you'd like to know more about him and his times, I'd recommend Simon Schama's BBC-series "A History of Britain". Part 2 Conquest in particular. L.

Here's a clip:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UDOplkVTdXo

Marisa 11:20 PM  

I found your review as I searched for cliff notes, because I felt the exact same way. I might just have to set this book down.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

My Blog List

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP