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King of the Wood [Hardcover]

Valerie Anand
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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From Publishers Weekly

The death of King William II in a hunting accident serves as the convergence point for several satisfying plot lines in Anand's ( To a Native Shore ) fifth historical novel. After William Rufus, eldest of William the Conqueror's three sons, succeeds his father in 1087, royal siblings Henry and Robert (called Curthose) shift through various turbulent alliances as each conspires to wrest the throne for himself. The King ignores entreaties to marry Edith of Scotland and produce a successor; instead, he takes as a lover the skilled Norman rider and huntsman, Ralph des Aix. Although reluctant to enter into the relationship, Ralph nonetheless learns to care deeply for the King while he counts the days until he gains his promised knighthood and manor, and the freedom to establish his own family. When he becomes head of the manor at Chenna's Tun and weds beautiful, rebellious Sybil of Fallowdene, Ralph is drawn to the ancient pagan woodland rites and relishes his role as King of the Wood during Beltane's (May Day) carnal revelries in his woodland--where the fated regicide occurs. Betrayal, violation and eventual acquiescence to circumstance overlap imaginatively in this complex novel in which two kinds of kingship, each shadowed by compelling but proscribed practices, provide an effective dual theme.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In A.D. 1000 King William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, was killed during a hunt. Although no one knows who shot the fatal arrow, Anand provides an intriguing story of what might have been. William Rufus faced opposition from his two brothers and numerous lords under his dominion in England and France. He drew the condemnation of Church authorities for his homosexual liaisons. He ignored the grievances of his impoverished subjects, many of whom continued to practice ancient fertility rituals in the hope of improving their economic lot. Anand pulls seemingly unrelated subplots tighter and tighter as the novel progresses, drawing the principal characters together to the fateful day of the king's death. In the process she masterfully re-creates the chaos and passion of a turbulent time.
- Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Who did kill William Rufus of England? Oct. 21 2007
By Misfit TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Ralph de Aix is a younger son who strikes out from Normandy to England with hopes of better advancement in his talents as a huntsman and horseman. Eventually Ralph attracts the attention of William Rufus, King of England, and Ralph is willing to use that attraction to advance his prospects as a courtier. I do give the author credit for tactfully handling Rufus' unusual "activities" in the bedroom, and Ralph's mixed feelings about his relationship with Rufus and his relief when he is freed from it and able to return to more normal relationships with women.

Eventually William gives Ralph some land at Chenna's Tun in the New Forest, and he brings his young bride Sybil to live with him there. Ralph is quickly drawn in to his Saxon tenant's ancient worship in the forest, and William's ambitious younger brother uses his knowledge of Ralph's activities to force him into committing a heinous deed.

This is top rate, well written historical fiction. The author does take her time in building her characters, and things really didn't start cooking until about page 300 or so as Ralph realizes that Herne, the ancient God of the Wood has chosen the ultimate sacrifice to The King of The Wood. Some readers who need action packed excitement on every page might find some of this book a bit dull, but I loved every minute of it, especially involving "The King of the Wood" in the still mysterious death of William Rufus. Five stars.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fealty vs. Honor in Medieval England! Sept. 19 2002
By Kimberly Gelderman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is the tale of Ralph de Aix of Normandy and of William Rufus-King of England. Ralph is a huntsman who desires knighthood and eventually lands of his own. He finds he cannot achieve his goal anytime soon in Normandy with his present lord and decides to look elsewhere for advancement. Advancement comes in the shape and guise of William Rufus, son of William the Bastard of Normandy. Ralph really cares about Rufus, on a genuine level of friendship, but is willing to do what it takes to succeed at court. Rufus, not known for normal "appetites" is attracted to Ralph and their strange relationship begins. Ralph endures Rufus in the hope of being granted lands after knighthood.
A run down Chenna's Tun is his "reward" for "services rendered." However, he tries to make a go of it and with current knowledge of the god Herne, becomes involved in the Saxon cult where he becomes a "lord" in his own right. There is much action and mystery involved in his life but not much money. He wants a wife and in time finds one who is, in the beginning, reluctant to leave her childhood home. As time goes on, things do not improve. Weather and health disasters are a never ending concern and many people hunt the "royal deer" in order not to starve. This brings about the most important role Ralph will ever play in his life, starring Rufus and Rufus' younger brother Count Henry, soon to become King Henry I of England.
Medieval life is brought realistically back to life as is a lessor known religious cult. Anand's style of writing keeps the reader emeshed in a life of intrigue, mystery, danger, and scandal, in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. Many of her novels are out-of-print but are well worth the search! They transport the reader back into time.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who did kill William Rufus of England? Oct. 21 2007
By Misfit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ralph de Aix is a younger son who strikes out from Normandy to England with hopes of better advancement in his talents as a huntsman and horseman. Eventually Ralph attracts the attention of William Rufus, King of England, and Ralph is willing to use that attraction to advance his prospects as a courtier. I do give the author credit for tactfully handling Rufus' unusual "activities" in the bedroom, and Ralph's mixed feelings about his relationship with Rufus and his relief when he is freed from it and able to return to more normal relationships with women.

Eventually William gives Ralph some land at Chenna's Tun in the New Forest, and he brings his young bride Sybil to live with him there. Ralph is quickly drawn in to his Saxon tenant's ancient worship in the forest, and William's ambitious younger brother uses his knowledge of Ralph's activities to force him into committing a heinous deed.

This is top rate, well written historical fiction. The author does take her time in building her characters, and things really didn't start cooking until about page 300 or so as Ralph realizes that Herne, the ancient God of the Wood has chosen the ultimate sacrifice to The King of The Wood. Some readers who need action packed excitement on every page might find some of this book a bit dull, but I loved every minute of it, especially involving "The King of the Wood" in the still mysterious death of William Rufus. Five stars.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Tale of an Interesting Time April 5 2008
By Miranda Good - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This very readable novel offers an inventive answer to the old mystery of Who Killed William II? None of the previous works of historical fiction I have encounted dealt with this particular time in English history, namely the reign of William Rufus, homosexual son of William the Conqueror, who assumed the crown on his father's death. The author has deftly interwoven story lines of numerous persons, fictional and historical, who had motive to do in Rufus. Her solution to this historical whodunit is quite original as well as feasible. Anand's investigation of the ancient pagan rites of Beltane and the "King of the Wood" is fascinating and meshes seamlessly with the factual part of her narrative. Rich in historical and cultural detail, this is a quick read which gets better and better as the tale unfolds. The multitude of personalities in play is initially a bit confusing, but who's who becomes clearer as the story progresses. Well written, original and fast-paced, this is a great choice for lovers of historical fiction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 12 2014
By paulette babich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
great condition
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