Flambard's Confession

by Marilyn Durham. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $17.95. King William Rufus (1056?—1100) always needed money, and his loyal servant Flambard, a primeval workaholic bureaucrat, knew how to extract it from everybody, including the Church. The monkish historians of the time gave the pair a bad name. Ms. Durham has used the limited facts and a great deal of ingenious invention to reconstruct the doings of Flambard and his master. The novel is long, full of action, and supplied with tart modern dialogue and what seems at times like a cast of thousands. It requires a certain tolerance for bloodshed, since it describes a society in which the only serious business of great men was claim-jumping each other’s real estate. Their hobby was insurrection against the crown. Alas, poor Rufus.