Review | The Leopards of Normandy: Devil – David Churchill


  • Hardcover (Headline, 480 pages)
  • To be published February 2015
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars
  • (Review copy courtesy of the lovely people at Bookbridgr.)

The fate of England hangs in the balance of a fight between brothers 

The noble families of Europe are tearing themselves apart in their lust for power and wealth.

Emma, Queen of England, is in agony over the succession to her husband Canute’s throne … while the sons of her brother, the Duke of Normandy, battle in the wake of his death.

Robert, the younger son, has been cheated of Normandy’s mightiest castle and sets out to take it by force. He emerges from a bloody siege victorious and in love with a beautiful – and pregnant – peasant girl.

Robert’s child will be mocked as William the bastard. But we have another name for him

… Conqueror .”

Oh wow. Oh wow.

This is an earthy, gritty, brutal piece of historical fiction – and I love it.

Characters – realistic. They are so brilliant in their grey morality, and Churchill shows that you can write women well without them having to be strong. The struggles these characters faced broke my heart – I was hoping that certain conflicts would be resolved and happiness gained but I knew it was unlikely to happen. Churchill managed to more than tug on the heartstrings; the first time that happened, I knew I’d started something good. These characters are more than just engaging – they are so very human, and the novel is all the more wonderful for it.

I should point out that this novel is not for the faint hearted. Devil is set in a bloody period of history, and so of course there was going to be violence. And we get it in spades. I have to admit, I quite like gritty violence in literature, so this discovery was excellent. Churchill brings a fairly obscure tale behind William the Conqueror to the table, and manages to make it into something compulsively readable – and easy to read, at that. I flew through this; I will definitely be looking out for the sequel (this is a planned trilogy).

Despite being a medieval history student, I know very little about William the Conqueror and his familial history; Devil has made me more inclined to research more about this, and if you’re a lover of historical fiction, pick this up. It’s great. You’ll love it. Now go read it. It comes out two days (26th February) after I post this review. Plenty of time for you to get excited.


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