I quite agree with Howarth's assessment of the principal characters; how he'd have liked King Harold, felt sorry for Tostig, and been terrified of William. Echoing my earlier comment, I'm not sure why he disliked Edward the Confessor so, perhaps I need to read more about King Edward. Harald is quite an enigma to me still, and I'd like to read more about the "last of the great Vikings".
Here you're given a much more objective view of Harold and there doesn't seem to be much to dislike about him. Nor does there seem to be any indication that he'd have been anything but a fair and just King. You can't help but feel sorry for him, once he saw the papal banner that William carried, and given the terrible way in which he died. His behavior compared from Stamford Bridge to Hastings is so markedly different, one almost has to assume his confidence was completely gone and the he believes he'd already lost and that God was against him. You have to feel sadness too, for the numerous Englishmen who continued to suffer once William was crowned (though they certainly suffered before then as well, once Harold was defeated).
It's intriguing to think how differently England would have developed if Harold had won Hastings and William had been killed or at least been sent packing.