Autumn 1066 by Jack Eason: A Review

Posted January 19, 2018 by Denzil in History, Reviews / 14 Comments

Autumn 1066 Jack Eason

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Autumn 1066: When Anglo-Saxon dominance ended by Jack Eason
Genres: History
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Autumn 1066 gives a fictional account of the weeks preceding the Battle of Hastings on the south coast of England in October 1066. It’s a novella that takes about an hour to read. It recounts the story of King Harold’s army. Firstly as it heads north to successfully repel the invading King of Norway. And then as it turns round and hastily marches south to face Duke William of Normandy at Hastings. Much is told through the eyes of two foot soldiers, Aldred and Cynric.

Fact and fiction fight side by side

The author – Jack Eason – certainly seems to know his history, and has crafted an interesting story that cleverly although not uniquely meshes fact with fiction. He builds up the tension excellently between the different factions, and conveys the drama of the battle scenes well. I found it interesting to learn the Anglo-Saxon names of common weapons and the battle formations employed by the protagonists.

Interestingly, he chooses to follow the traditional death of Harold as portrayed in the Bayeux Tapestry – an arrow in the eye – rather than the more contemporary account of him being hacked to death by four knights. Eason does however introduce a neat sting in the tail. Or should I say the eye?

Author falls on his sword

However, Autumn 1066 is let down by major shortcomings.

Overall the novella lacks both tightness and clarity. The opening pages in particular are difficult to follow, when names, facts and events are introduced rapidly and rather confusingly. There are many characters to keep track of; some of whom seem to have little significance to the story itself but are concerned with events in the distant past. And some sentences and scenes don’t seem to make sense or are ambiguous.

For a short text, there are a surprising number of punctuation and grammatical errors. Commas, full stops and semi-colons are missing or misused. The possessive apostrophe (the apostrophe s) makes a couple of “unusual” appearances, while the over-use of the personal pronoun “him” leads to confusion. A spelling mistake in the final sentence of the book is surely inexcusable.

In addition, the book does not have a cover illustration; it’s just plain text on a black background. This, coupled with the errors mentioned above, conveys the impression that the focus of the editing and production process was on speed rather than quality. This is unfortunate.

(For an article on how to review Indie books – particularly the less good ones – check out this post, which raised some interesting discussion points).

Victory is still possible

However, maybe the text could be strictly edited, and a designer employed to produce an attractive and enticing cover? If so, we might well see Autumn 1066 coming out of the Winter of my Discontent and into a Glorious Spring.

 

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14 responses to “Autumn 1066 by Jack Eason: A Review

  1. Denzil, I was excited to read about this book as it’s an era that interests me, I’ve lived in Hastings and visited Battle. However, from the beginning I had my reservations with the cover…or rather lack of one! I couldn’t believe it was a novella as there is so much to the battle and is seems to suffer from including too much in such a short space. Finally, you pick up on one of my pet hates…grammar errors, typos etc. One can be forgiven, maybe two…but numerous and in the last sentence – No!! With renewed effort and corrections and cover this is one I would be interested in reading! Have a great weekend! Happy reading! 😀

    • Denzil

      Thanks for your comment Annika. Yes it was disappointing, but as I mentioned, and you point out, corrections can surely be made, or even extended to a full-length novel.

    • Denzil

      OK Carol, will do. So far the author has not mentioned editing this version and making a second edition.

  2. It is too bad that such an interesting topic would be marred by mistakes that an editor or proofreader would catch. It sounds like a first draft that could easily be lengthened with some help. Oh well, you are certainly a trooper for seeing beyond these mistakes to the end.

  3. paulandruss

    Denzil.. Your last post was about being honest in your reviews. And you were. You pointed out both strengths and shortcomings OBJECTIVELY. If my books were reviewed by someone this is exactly what I would hope for. And you can’t say fairer than that!

  4. It sounds almost like creative nonfiction. That long ago, it’s hard to tell what’s real history and what’s myth. Despite it all, it does sound interesting.

    • Denzil

      Yes it’s an interesting story Jacqui. There seem to be multiple accounts of Harold’s death

  5. Sounds like the author published a work in progress rather than make a finished product. Too bad as it sounds like an interesting idea. I’m happy to read indie books but not ones that are inexcusably sloppy.

    You are a fast reader, Denzil – I envy your skill. Me, my reading plods at porridge speed.

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