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Rite of Conquest
by Judith Tarr

Category: Fiction / Fantasy
0 pages; ISBN: 0451460022

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


Rite of Conquest
Judith Tarr
Roc, Oct 2004, $16.00, 384 pp.
ISBN: 0451460022

In 1047, William the Duke of Normandy tries to ignore the magic that flows through his veins as he battles pretenders and contenders who wish to replace him. The old magic thrives in Normandy with beneficial spirits who want to help mankind. Powerful sorceress Mathilda, daughter of the Count of Flanders, is sent to the French King’s court where William has come after winning a decisive battle abetted by King Henry.

When William meets Mathilda, she lectures him on the use of his magic so that he does not inadvertently hurt himself or others. Fearing the magic that is the antithesis of Christianity, William flees to his Normandy, but cannot forget Mathilda. He proposes marriage and she accepts. They may forge a dynasty across the Channel where the Church has thrown out the magic, but William must first defeat King Harold.

The story of William’s rise to power, consolidation of that power, and his marriage to Mathilda are part of the history books, but also cleverly interwoven into a spellbinding historical fantasy that once again shows why Judith Tarr is the mistress of the sub-genre. Her unique slant on the events leading to 1066 makes for a fun and fascinating read. The use of magic as a benign tool while the battles provide a more mundane (though interesting) look at William’s claiming of the throne with church approval maks for a fascinating juxtaposition. RITE OF CONQUEST is a definite keeper.

Harriet Klausner


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