Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: "Shadow on the Crown" by Patricia Bracewell

From Goodreads:  In 1002, fifteen­-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers.


My Thoughts:  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I had no idea that early English history was so interesting!  I never knew there was such a person as Emma of Normandy until I read this book but I think she needs to feature more in popular history because she is such an interesting character.  I also think the times she lived in seem really interesting and I definitely hope to learn more about this era.  There was so much action going on through the story (and the era) with the all of the infighting in England and the Vikings attacking them, it made for a really good read.  The story dealt with such a new and fresh era for a work of historical fiction and I really liked that.

Emma is extremely intelligent and well-educated but has to temper this intelligence as she dealt with her new husband.  King Aethelred was a terrible husband and treated her like garbage but for the most part she managed to maintain her sense of self and her inner strength.  Aethelred never seemed to be able to completely break her and I admired her courage in dealing with the difficult situations she was put in. 

King Aethelred was not  a likable character but I kind of felt sorry for him because he had some major issues stemming from the murder of his brother when he was a child.  However, his issues made him treat everyone like garbage especially his children.  His eldest son, Aethelstan, seemed like he had a good head on his shoulders but his father distrusted him and would never listen to anything he had to say even when Aethelstan was completely right.  I really liked Aethelstan as a character and would have liked to see even more of him in this book. 

This story seemed very well-researched; I loved the excerpts from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  and the extensive author's note at the end of the story.  I also really appreciated the glossary and the list of characters at the beginning as it was difficult to keep track of the characters and who they were.  I have to say that at first I was really frustrated with the way this story ended because things were going so well in the story and it just ended really abruptly.  Come to find out, this is the first book in a trilogy about Emma of Normandy so the end makes much more sense now.  I am actually pretty interested in reading the next book because I really want to know more about Emma and her family.  Shadow on the Crown is a fascinating story with great characters and a lot of action making it a good read for any fan of historical fiction. 3 1/2 stars.

1 comment:

  1. The more I hear about this one the more interested in it I become. Although I'm thinking I might want to wait a little to read it that way I can read all the books in the trilogy close together.

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