Friday, April 22, 2016

Excerpt & #Giveaway for The Sons of Godwine by Mercedes Rochelle

The Sons of Godwine
by Mercedes Rochelle
Part Two of The Last Great Saxon Earls 

Publisher: Sergeant Press
Publication Date: March 7, 2016

Format: eBook & Print

Length: 306 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Available at Amazon

About the book:

Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King’s most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor’s death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn’t particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame.

This is a story of Godwine’s family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OFGODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirsof her tragic brothers.

This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE 
KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor’s reign. Unfortunately, Godwine’s misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha’s disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold’s career was just beginning as his father’s journey was coming to an end.

Harold’s siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig’s case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective.

Harold was his mother’s favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig’s vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig’s love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY.



King Edward had called a Witenagemot in Gloucester to announce my new appointment as Earl of Northumbria. As we were gathering in the hall, everything started pretty quiet. I had collected a group of retainers around me and we were waiting for the king to appear. Suddenly, we heard shouting from the back of the hall. Of course, we all turned to see what it was, and there was Aelfgar striding forward, pushing people out of the way.

Aelfgar was like a badger when he was angry. His father Leofric was short-legged and stout, and, although Aelfgar was taller than his sire, his body was long and his legs were still short. His blond beard bristled about his red face, making him look rather ugly. I think he had been drinking.

He stopped far behind me and shouted from a distance.

"Don't think this is going to be so easy. We don't need another Godwineson telling us what to do!"

The other earls, great and small, were so startled they fell silent. Then they all started arguing with each other.

Aelfgar wasn't finished. "They will rule over us all, I tell you! Why reward the man who went into exile? Why HIM instead of me?"

He was attacking me personally! I had nothing to do with my family's exile. It was quite unfair and I was trying to think of something fitting to say when Harold stepped out from behind the king's throne. He was shouting to be overheard, but at first no one listened. I wanted to go after Aelfgar but Harold put a hand on my arm. He strode forward instead, shouldering his way through the crowd. He stepped on a bench, towering over Aelfgar.

"How dare you disturb the king's court?" my brother bellowed.

That stopped Aelfgar for a moment, but he was too blinded by his rage.

"And YOU!" the badger shouted. "You think that just because you are the Earl of Wessex, you can step into your father's shoes? I spit on you!"

And he did. Harold made a fist but restrained himself.

"I spit on your whole family," Aelfgar continued, fighting off the hands trying to restrain him. "You made the king your thrall."

He jumped forward and tried to pull Harold off the bench. From all sides men were dragging them apart. Earl Leofric was shoving his way through the crowd but could not reach his son. I watched a couple of men run toward the door. The King's door.
There was a lot of scuffling and then Harold and Aelfgar stood breathing heavily, straining toward each other. The place was in an uproar.

Suddenly the king's door flew open and Edward stepped through, in a righteous rage. It was obvious someone told him what Aelfgar said. The hall fell silent as we all bowed. Edward sat on his throne, gripping the arm.

"Earl Aelfgar, come forward."

Aelfgar had to straighten his tunic first. He looked a fright. I never saw a man so pale. Taking a deep breath, he advanced to the throne and went down on one knee.

"Sire," he breathed. "I misspoke myself. I was not in control."

No matter what he said, I don't think it would have made a difference.

"Aelfgar Leofricson I declare you a traitor!" Edward growled, pointing at the fool. I almost felt sorry for him. "You have shamed your father and your earldom! I give you four days to leave this country!"

Aelfgar stood up, hanging his head. Everybody backed away as his father pushed through and grabbed him by the arm.

"Go. Now." The King seemed suddenly tired.

Leofric led his submissive son away. Well, submissive isn't the right word. Stunned is more like it. Aelfgar would never submit to anyone. Men turned and watched as they made their way to the back of the hall, then out. Neither father nor son looked back.

Edward sat for a few minutes and no one dared speak. Finally, he held out his hand to Harold, who gave him the chain of office he had been carrying. The king took the chain and beckoned me forward. I knelt as he leaned toward me.

"I'm sorry, Tostig," he said quietly. "It wasn't supposed to happen this way."

I really didn't care. I was never one for a big display.

The king put a hand on my shoulder then stood. "It is my wish that Tostig Godwineson rule as Earl of Northumbria. Are you with me?"

"Aye. Aye. Aye." I don't think they were unanimous, but I also don't think anyone dared object. Perhaps Aelfgar did me a favor after all.

About the Author

Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

For more information visit Mercedes Rochelle’s website and blog. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 18
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, April 20
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Friday, April 22
Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Sunday, April 24
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, April 25
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 4
Excerpt at Layered Pages

Thursday, May 5
Review at Impressions In Ink

Friday, May 13
Interview at Passages to the Past


  1. This historical sounds fascinating. The author has captured an era which interests me and the story is enthralling. Thanks.

  2. Previously I had a chance to read 1066 which is also about Harold, thus I am curious on the author's take of Harold in this book.

  3. I have not read any books about Harold. I wonder how England would be different today, if he had won at Hastings?

  4. I have not had the opportunity to enjoy your books, yet, I hope your tour goes well. And I would love to win.