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.
Autumn 1066: When Anglo-Saxon dominance ended by Jack Eason
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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.