Jackals In Iron
Merlin Douglas Larsen
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“The history of our house has been greatly affected by the presence of the Normans. If I am honest, I will admit this right from the start: Ponthieu has been eclipsed by William Bastard and his brood...”
Thus begins the dictated history of Count Guy of Ponthieu, in the last year of his life, as he meets with monk historians at the abbey of Saint-Evroult. They have asked the aged Count of Ponthieu to commit his memories and observations to writing, for a great compiled history of the Norman dukes and kings of England. The year is 1100 A D. The Norman Conquest of England is the accomplished fact of the previous generation. Count Guy’s generation.
He grew up, the younger son of Count Hugh, in a world being taken over by the aggressive Normans, the children of Viking invaders. Guy saw his brothers slain in battle against them. After he became Count of Ponthieu himself, Guy tried to avoid Norman entanglements. But the inescapable presence of William Bastard’s meteoric rise to power and fame swept Ponthieu into his plans. Serving the ends of the Duke of Normandy cost Count Guy even more blood and sacrifices from his own family before he finally said “enough.” But his decision was harder to live with than he had thought. Late in life, his own house is pulled irrevocably into the Anglo-Norman realm through marriage with the notorious house of Bellesme.
This is a tale of sweeping scope, passing through more than a century of intrigue, battles and alliances. Here Guy meets Edward the Confessor, King of England, and his dashing successor Harold Godwinson. Guy joins Normandy’s war against Harold to seek a morbid vengeance. He admires and loathes William Bastard, Duke of Normandy, destined to become King of England, and known to history as the Conqueror. Guy says he is William’s enemy, and yet, at the end, no one else stands by him save he alone.
Jackals in Iron is a novel. But much more than this, it is good history, succinctly told with depth and authentic detail.