Tuesday 22 January 2013

Review ~ Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Shadow on the Crown
Penguin Group Viking
7 February 2013

A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen

Medieval England in 1001 is disrupted not just by the power and might of the marauding Danes who seek to invade this prosperous country, but also by the volatile and unpredictable nature of its ruling King. When the Danish leader, Swein Forkbeard attempts to negotiate a truce with the ruling powers across the narrow sea in Normandy, the English king, Æthelred, in desperation, agrees to marry Richard of Normandy’s fifteen year old sister Emma, in return for Richard’s sporadic protection against the Danes. However, Æthelred is a King with a notorious reputation, and Emma’s marriage to this volatile and troubled king is unhappy and fraught with danger, but Emma is a strong and courageous Queen who is determined to fight for what is rightfully hers as an anointed Queen of England.

Shadow on the Crown is the first book in a proposed trilogy about Emma of Normandy, and is a well written and easily readable account of this troubled period in England’s history. The author has used accurate historical evidence to support her story from the Anglo-Saxon chronicles, and it is this authenticity which adds a blend of realism to a story of political intrigue and sexual skulduggery. There is immense sympathy throughout the novel for the plight of this young and inexperienced Queen and with great insight the author has combined this largely forgotten period of England’s history with a fascinating account of the vagaries of life in a medieval court.

Quite rightly, the conclusion of the book lends itself perfectly to the continuation of the story and I am sure that this series will go from strength to strength as the story progresses.

My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Viking for an early reading copy of this book to review.

grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. She has always been fascinated by English history, which led to her studying Anglo-Saxon history at Downing College, Cambridge University. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in Oakland, California

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