Shine Cycle Précis: Godwinson’s Heir

Godwinson’s Heir is the tentative title of the ninth planned novel in the “Alternate Universes” sub-series of the Shine Cycle, and is set in a world where the Norman Conquest failed. Today’s post is a brief introduction to this planned work.

In the alternate history envisioned by Godwinson’s Heir, Harold Godwinson and his allies defeated Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson decisively at Fulford if not before, leaving them far better prepared for the invasion of William of Normandy, whom he similarly-decisively defeated. However, like his predecessor on the English throne, Harold has no son either, so in not quite thirty years his successor must again fight off other would-be claimants.

The Quester arrives in perhaps about 1080, and over the course of some years—more than he usually has—learns the details of where and when he has found himself, and makes himself useful, gradually gaining the trust of several of the Anglo-Saxon leaders. In particular, he works with knights and yeomen to train the populace in arms, and in coastal regions he urges the local leaders to build ships and train sailors.

A few years after he arrives, King Harold Godwinson falls ill and, after lingering on his sickbed for several months, dies. The Witengamot convenes and selects Edgar the Aetheling to succeed him, but other ambitious nobles contest this decision, most notably including (if my current thoughts make it into the final story) William of Normandy’s son.

King Edgar musters the militia, and sends armies to meet the enemies that he knows are coming. He assigns the Quester to lead one of these groups, which he sends to repel Norman invaders, and sends another to fend off Norsemen invading in support of the claim of the King of Norway. Once the Norse invasion is confirmed, he directs his naval forces that are not based in the areas that were invaded to scatter any Norse reinforcements.

Scarcely have those invaders been put to flight than another claimant arrives with an army. With everyone on high alert, warning of this invasion arrives before the ships land, but Edgar’s navy is out of position, defending the North Sea route, and so cannot prevent the landing, and his army is tired, but they are in good position before the invaders are organized, and Edgar decisively defeats this final challenger.

With Edgar’s rule firmly established, the Quester makes his farewells and rides off, in search of where he will next be needed.

The principal characters of Godwinson’s Heir will likely be the Quester, King Harold, King Edgar, the other claimants (though they may or may not appear directly “on screen”), and the Anglo-Saxon political and military leaders that the Quester interacts with.

Do you have any thoughts about my plans for Godwinson’s Heir?

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