A superbly evocative novel that was published to critical acclaim, which chronicles the momentous events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The year is 1016 and England burns while the Viking armies blockade the great city of London. King Ethelred lies dying and the England he knew dies with him; the warring kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex and Northymbria tremble on the brink of great change. One man lives to bear witness to the upheaval: Godwin, barely out of boyhood and destined to become one of his country's great warriors.
When Ethelred's son Edmund takes the throne, determined to succeed where his father failed, he plucks Godwin from domestic peace to be right-hand man in his loyal shield wall. Godwin must traverse the meadows, wintry forests and fogbound marshes of Saxon England, raising armies of monks, ploughmen and shepherds against the Viking invader. With epic courage and ferocity, Godwin and Edmund repel the butchering Danes in three great battles. But an old enemy, the treacherous Earl Eadric, dogs Godwin's footsteps and as the final battle approaches, around the valiant English the trap begins to close.
Written in supple, intelligent prose . . . Shieldwall is a vivid historical novel . . . Entirely convincing - Sunday Times - Nick Rennison
Inspired . . . With wonderful, poetic passages, Hill reaches beyond the limits of the genre and . . . harks back to the halls of our Saxon forebears in those dark days - Guardian - Ian Mortimer
Exciting, gripping and imaginative - The Times - Kate Saunders
Truly compelling - Sunday Times
Hill's sense of place, landscape and home is really good. His particular discovery is how he makes his characters' internal lives. I shall be waiting for the next novel in the trilogy - Observer
Justin Hill was born in the Bahamas, and grew up in York, attending St Peter's School. He studied Old England and Medieval Literature at Durham University, and spent most of his twenties on postings with Voluntary Service Overseas in rural China and East Africa.
He has written poetry, non-fiction and fiction, which spans eras as distant from one another as Anglo Saxon England, in Shieldwall, to Tang Dynasty, China, in Passing Under Heaven. His work has won numerous awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, a Betty Trask Award, as well as being selected as a Sunday Times Book of the Year (Shieldwall) and a Washington Post Books of the Year (The Drink and Dream Teahouse).
In 2014 he was selected to write the sequel to the Oscar winning film, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
He lives near York.