|Set just after the Battle of Hastings when William the Conqueror took over England, this is the start of a series about three bastards who fought bravely and were rewarded for their service with land and a bride, generally the widow or daughter of the conquered Saxon lord. The Conqueror’s Lady sets the stage and introduces two of the three knights.
Giles Fitzhenry is the son of a noble and a seamstress. He grew up hating his place, always the servant or lowborn knight and never the noble. But he learned to fight and he had a great mentor in another noble who took the three bastards, Giles, Brice and Soren, under his wing. He taught them how to fight and how to act like men. He taught them compassion while building up their strength and their tolerance. Now Giles has overtaken the lands of the Baron of Taerford and is expecting to wed his daughter Fayth. He first meets her as she is attempting to marry her childhood friend Edmund, who is actually a relative of the old English King. Giles releases him after Fayth begs for his life. He now has an enemy who is determined to gather an army and return to recapture Fayth and her lands for himself.
Meanwhile, Giles has a ton of complications. He has to deal with the Saxon people who are intimidated and yet depend on the manor for the livelihood. He must gain their trust and yet do so while showing his compassion and his strength. He has to deal with his wife, who is afraid of him and fearful of his power over her. He is determined to ensure she is not already with child, so despite his lust, he vows to refrain from bedding her until he is certain she carries no English bastard child. He also has to hold the land from those who would fight him for it and that includes overseeing a great deal of work to restore the walls and strengthen their defenses.
Fayth, too, has struggles.First she is angered that Giles thinks she is not a virgin. She is angry that he may or may not have had something to do with her father’s death during the battle. She is fearful of the warriors and fears they may harm her people. She is bored because she is used to serving as her father’s steward and the idleness is irksome. And finally, she feels guilty because of her lust and growing appreciation for this invader, despite her anger and her fears.
The story does a great job of mixing the anxiety of the times with the realities. But there are many familiar things about this tale. There is little to set this one apart, although the two characters are well written. Giles has more depth and is intriguing. He is truly a mix of a proud stubborn warrior and a compassionate man looking for someplace he can build into a home. Fayth holds her fears a tad too long, leading to the climax. She is a bit to blame for the whole debacle and I found myself wishing she would act differently so I could like her more.
Brice, who is at the keep serving as his friend’s right hand man, and who spends much time guarding Fayth, shows a lot of interesting character traits. He too is compassionate, but appears a little more hot-headed that Giles, running off to act rather than thinking things through. He is quick to laugh at Giles but dislikes being reminded that he will have to deal with many of the same issues when he is given his own keep to transform and protect. I look forward to his story just based on his character here.
The Conqueror’s Lady is a good story, but it breaks no new ground. It is better at times than at others and the heroine is often uneven in her actions, making her a bit of a “dumb blonde” character. She pales in comparison to her hero, Giles, and luckily for the reader he is portrayed with both favorable and unfavorable traits. Generally, The Conqueror’s Lady is a solid story with much to enjoy.