(Review) Godwine Kingmaker: Part One of The Last Great Saxon Earls by Mercedes Rochelle

Publication Date: April 24, 2015 (US & UK)
Publisher: Top Hat Books
Formats: Kindle eBook, Paperback
Pages: 351

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Free paperback copy from the Mercedes Rochelle and Top Hat Books in exchange for a review. 
Rating: 4 stars for very good. 
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Harold Godwineson, the Last Anglo-Saxon King, owed everything to his father. Who was this Godwine, first Earl of Wessex and known as the Kingmaker? Was he an unscrupulous schemer, using King and Witan to gain power? Or was he the greatest of all Saxon Earls, protector of the English against the hated Normans? The answer depends on who you ask. He was befriended by the Danes, raised up by Canute the Great, given an Earldom and a wife from the highest Danish ranks. He sired nine children, among them four Earls, a Queen and a future King. Along with his power came a struggle to keep his enemies at bay, and Godwine’s best efforts were brought down by the misdeeds of his eldest son Swegn. Although he became father-in-law to a reluctant Edward the Confessor, his fortunes dwindled as the Normans gained prominence at court. Driven into exile, Godwine regathered his forces and came back even stronger, only to discover that his second son Harold was destined to surpass him in renown and glory.

My Thoughts: 
Before the Norman invaders, principally William the Conqueror, there were the Vikings. Four Danish men were kings of England. Three of them had brief reigns. It was during this period that a transformation of England began. I love this period in history, especially the Godwine family. I am not a fan of Godwine, nor will I argue whether he was guilty of the murder of Alfred (Edward the Confessor's brother.) But I enjoy reading about this historical period. I feel it is the diverse personalities of the kings on the throne, as well as the dramatic twists in history that add to my interest. 
I had wondered before reading Godwine Kingmaker, if the author had a leaning towards a positive or negative portrayal of Godwine?  
Godwine is shown as a man of ambition. He is intelligent and resourceful. He seems to be in the right place and introduced to the right people that lead him to a powerful position. Holding onto the position and passing down a legacy to his children became treacherous. 
I felt Mercedes Rochelle gave flesh and bone to Godwine. He is not overtly good or bad, but a man who loved his family and wanted to protect his position and their future. 
I was shown another perspective of Godwine through the eyes of Edward the Confessor. Edward did not trust Godwine and this is told in the story to perfection. 
Harold II Godwineson is the son of Godwine. He is given a few parts in this book, the final chapter points to his dominant future. 
There is only one point I did not like about the book. Early in the story the first days of Godwine and Gytha's marriage is clumsy. Their marriage at this point is like two bear cubs tumbling over each other, they are not connecting and their love scenes are fickle. This storyline did not work for me. 

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About the Author

Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they built themselves.
For more information please visit Mercedes Rochelle’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Godwine Kingmaker Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 20
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at Genre Queen
Tuesday, April 21
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Unshelfish
Wednesday, April 22
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post and Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, April 23
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Saturday, April 25
Spotlight at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Tuesday, April 28
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, April 29
Review at Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 30
Guest Post and Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Monday, May 4
Review at Impressions in Ink
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, May 5
Guest Post and Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, May 7
Review at Bookramblings
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Friday, May 8
Review at Layered Pages