Enthusiastic prequel to Godwin’s Sherwood (1991) and Robin and the King (1993), which drastically revised the Robin Hood story. Focusing on the Norman invasion of England, this one tells of quietly contented Harold and his common-law wife, Edith, whom the Church has forbidden him to marry. The two avoid court politics until Harold has to fight to defend the throne. Following the exile and return to power of his father, Godwine, he inherits two earldoms; after the deaths of his older brother and Edward, King of the English, he becomes king himself in 1066. Edward, who was half Norman and yet fully Norman in character, hadn—t understood that his people longed for their own nation and laws--something that Harold has learned well from his father. Harold finds, also, that he must marry Lady Aldyth, whose husband’s death he caused, and make her queen as an act of political alliance, even though he loves only Edith. He turns back a Danish invasion at Stamford Bridge, but on the fateful day of the Battle of Hastings, when William defeats him, Edith is with Harold. Despite Godwin’s high heart for this material, the style of his 16th novel remains a steady plod with a satisfied smile.