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Harold : the Last of the Saxon Kings   By: (1803-1873)

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In "Harold: The Last of the Saxon Kings", Edward George Bulwer-Lytton takes readers on a captivating journey through English history, delving into the tumultuous period of the 11th century. Set against the backdrop of political intrigue and power struggles, this historical novel offers a rich tapestry of storytelling that keeps readers enthralled from beginning to end.

One of the standout aspects of Bulwer-Lytton's writing is his meticulous attention to detail. From the first page, it becomes evident that the author has thoroughly researched the historical framework, ensuring an accurate and immersive reading experience. The level of detail he brings to the depiction of settings, customs, and fashion of the time truly transports readers to this bygone era. Whether it is the lavish descriptions of the royal court or the vivid portrayal of landscape and architecture, the author's expertise shines through, adding depth and authenticity to the narrative.

What makes "Harold: The Last of the Saxon Kings" truly shine, however, is the way Bulwer-Lytton breathes life into his characters. The eponymous Harold takes center stage as a noble and heroic figure, providing readers with a relatable and sympathetic protagonist. Bulwer-Lytton masterfully brings out Harold's virtues, strengths, and inner struggles, creating a multidimensional character that readers can genuinely root for. Moreover, the author cleverly contrasts Harold's noble qualities with the complex and intriguing characters that surround him, including the ambitious and conniving William the Conqueror. This skillful interplay of characters enhances the story's dramatic tension and provides a deeper understanding of the political and personal dynamics at play.

Another notable element in Bulwer-Lytton's novel is the seamless blending of history and fiction. While the story is rooted in historical events, the author brings a touch of creative license that adds a layer of excitement and unpredictability. By incorporating fictional subplots and relationships, he adds a human touch to historical figures often seen only in textbooks. This balance between fact and fiction creates a compelling narrative that is both educational and engaging.

However, one aspect that may need consideration is the prose style employed by Bulwer-Lytton. Though beautifully written, the archaic language and syntax occasionally present a challenge for modern readers. Some may find the text's ornate style a bit dense, making it a slower read at times. However, with perseverance, readers will find themselves deeply immersed in the story, captivated by its rich historical tapestry.

In conclusion, "Harold: The Last of the Saxon Kings" is an exceptional historical novel that weaves together fact and fiction seamlessly. Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's meticulous attention to detail, compelling characterizations, and skillful storytelling combine to create an enthralling reading experience. Fans of historical fiction and those interested in English history will find this book an absolute delight.

First Page:


by Edward Bulwer Lytton


I dedicate to you, my dear friend, a work, principally composed under your hospitable roof; and to the materials of which your library, rich in the authorities I most needed, largely contributed.

The idea of founding an historical romance on an event so important and so national as the Norman Invasion, I had long entertained, and the chronicles of that time had long been familiar to me. But it is an old habit of mine, to linger over the plan and subject of a work, for years, perhaps, before the work has, in truth, advanced a sentence; "busying myself," as old Burton saith, "with this playing labour otiosaque diligentia ut vitarem torporen feriendi."

The main consideration which long withheld me from the task, was in my sense of the unfamiliarity of the ordinary reader with the characters, events, and, so to speak, with the very physiognomy of a period ante Agamemnona; before the brilliant age of matured chivalry, which has given to song and romance the deeds of the later knighthood, and the glorious frenzy of the Crusades. The Norman Conquest was our Trojan War; an epoch beyond which our learning seldom induces our imagination to ascend.

In venturing on ground so new to fiction, I saw before me the option of apparent pedantry, in the obtrusion of such research as might carry the reader along with the Author, fairly and truly into the real records of the time; or of throwing aside pretensions to accuracy altogether; and so rest contented to turn history into flagrant romance, rather than pursue my own conception of extracting its natural romance from the actual history... Continue reading book >>

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