1066 and all that it means to those living during the Conquest, in a story that handles history with imagination and integrity. Turold, son of Saxon Engelric and twin of Cerdic, is a gifted minstrel entreated by Harold (who claims his fealty to William was forced) to spy at William's court. He's bilingual so he pulls it off, relaying information back to his lord while look alike Cerdic sporadically takes his place at court. But as Harold predicts, the young man develops an allegiance to William, so the Saxon monarch releases his spy from his loyalty oath. Turold chooses not to fight for either, but he does ride with William's banner and he is one of the first to benefit from the change of lands when the Conqueror takes over. Turold is too weighted for some tastes (he is credited with composing the finest ""Song of Rollant,"" Taillefer turns up as a long lost -- and somewhat schizoid -- cousin) but the Saxon and Frankish scenes are filled with vigorous 11th century ""bodes"": a Pig-Boy released from serfdom, enjoying freedom, then privilege and status; a gold-hungry soldier preferring elderly rich widows; a matriarchal grandam sizing up every situation with a keen eye. Background information is introduced with ease, and the reader will apprehend the appeal of both lords, also detect the influence of Danish infiltration in both lands and more than minor traces of supersition co-existing with Christian worship. It's not haphazard Hastings -- the scope is large and highly concentrated.