The Conqueror, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (4 ratings)


William the Bastard, base-born son of the Duke of Normandy, must fight the King of France to regain his Duchy. Spurned in love by the lovely Princess Matilda, the fighting Duke dares to take a whip to her in her own father's palace, before making her his bride. Thwarted by the Saxon Earl Harold of a promise of the throne of England, William the Conqueror sails to Hastings to claim the King's crown and sceptre for his own.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9780099490920

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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

This novel is Georgette Heyer's take on William the Conquerer. While I have previously found it difficult to read her non-Romance novels, being too accustomed to the fun and frolic, I did get caught up in this one by the time I was several chapters into it. The details of the political history overwhelmed the personal, although this became somewhat less true as the novel progressed. To some extent, the focus was apparently a function of William himself, an ambitious, driven, loner of a warrior. I came away from the book with a strong appreciation that this was an unpleasant time to be alive in Europe. I was interested to read about the first use of bows and "rabble" soldiery as local guerillas in western European warfare. I think Heyer did a good job here but I am unlikely to reread it as I was not fond of the subject matter. I wish she had included an author's note to give me a sense of her sources.

Review by

I should actually put it on a shelf of half-read book. Could not finish it, since it turned out to be only a maze of conspiracies and wars, presented in very complex language of the era that made the reading weary.<br/><br/>This book is story of William the bastard, the Duke of Normandy (who used to sign as Bastardus' who became King of England after winning the battle of Hastings. Book features Raoul as his favorite and trusted man servant - I believe this was as much Raoul's story as it was William's. For my part, most interesting or rather shocking part of the book was where Matilda, a widow when presented with William's marriage offer refuses him in public court saying, 'she can not marry a base born'. William rides to her father's house in rage and whips her in her own father's house. Second time he proposes (he dares), Matilda marries him! I searched, Matilda and William are said to have a very productive marriage with about 10 kids who dd carry legacy. It is also said Matilda added a reason and reined in his cruelties, as is evident in increased cruelty under William the bastard's rule after death of his wife. <br/><br/>But God, after 10 days too, I had not finished the book. Do not regret it.

Review by

Georgette Heyer’s “The Conqueror” is a lengthy work of fiction based on the real life of England’s William I, following his rise to fame in Normandy, through to his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, culminating in his being crowned.This novel is divided into five parts with a short prologue and an epilogue. Overall it proved a little too exhaustive for my tastes. The first three parts have the occasional interesting or even entertaining moment, but mostly I felt bored by the mundane tone, or by sections that were over-detailed with little happening.Come Part Four, however, the narrative picks up a gear with the Saxon Harold’s arrival in Normandy. Ms Heyer does a fine job of depicting this great warrior who became King Harold II of England. It’s hard to visualise or get to know most of the characters, though, as there are so many, making it difficult to remember who was who and such like.Part Five is also of better quality, featuring the Battle of Hastings itself, which is well described. I feel that if the first three parts been heavily edited, while including more dialogue to help make the mainly lacklustre characters come to life, then this would’ve been a much more engaging piece of work. By the end I was glad I resisted the temptation to give up reading, as it turned out better than I thought following the halfway stage, but I was equally glad to finish the book.I rate this 3 stars – but only just!

Review by

Georgette Heyer’s classic 1931 novel tells the story of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and his rise to power alongside his wife Matilda. The story begins in 1028 with William's birth and continues to his coronation Christmas Day 1066, though most of the book is taken up with the battles for and around Normandy.<br/><br/>The Conqueror also tells the story of fictional Raoul de Harcourt, an idealistic young nobleman who believes William will bring stability and social justice to Normandy. As Raoul faithfully accompanies William in a series of adventures that leads ever-closer to a climactic account of the Battle of Hastings, we observe ambition, deliberate cruelty, and political blackmail. Alongside the myth, however, Heyer presents a William who owes much of his success to practical military innovations, including quick troop mobilization and trained archers. <br/><br/>If you hear the name, Georgette Heyer, you may think romance but there's actually very little here about the relationship between William and Matilda. The author does a great job with the historic detail of the battles, the clothes and the politics of the time. The portrayal of the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England is evenhanded and factual. The attention to detail is amazing and the sense of place and time is very atmospheric. On the downside, the old fashioned language makes it difficult for me to say there's any sort of flowing narrative. Nevertheless, The Conqueror delivers an enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone interested in know more about the Conquest.

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