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At 11, Juliana witnesses the first wave of the Norman's invasion in 1066. With her home destroyed, her father dead in battle, and her mother probably headed for sanctuary with a Norman relative, Juliana earns a meager living as a scullery maid. Months later, she finds her younger brother Wulfric, and the two make the perilous journey to Canterbury. There, Wulfric enters a monastery, as he has always planned to do; after several menial jobs that barely sustain her, Juliana becomes (by a series of believable circumstances) one of the workers on the Bayeux tapestry, commissioned by King William's brother Odo. In an epilogue, Juliana reflects that ""one dealt as one was able with a conqueror's heel,"" enumerating the contrasting experiences of her near and dear: one brother has become an outlaw Saxon rebel; a former bondswoman has found a way to ""climb to freedom""; her mother has married an English-born Norman noble, who unexpectedly turns out to be a gentle old man; she herself has declared her independence from their rank and authority and will continue to make her own way. A generous quantity of historical detail enriches the story, but the focus stays on Juliana, a fiercely loyal and conscientious Saxon, and on her harrowing, eventful quest for a modus vivendi under the Norman yoke. Solid, entertaining historical fiction that will appeal to Sutcliff's readers and that also has many interesting parallels with books about WW II.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1991
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/Macmillan