Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: "To Be a Queen" by Annie Whitehead

From Goodreads:  This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the 'Lady of the Mercians', daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is the tale of one family, two kingdoms and a common enemy. Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy. She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner, twice making an attempt on her life. When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead and when he subsequently dies, she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother.

My Thoughts:  I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  I really like to read about periods in history that I'm unfamiliar with and this book really piqued my interest.

To Be a Queen has so many good characters.  It's hard to choose a favorite!  Teasel, as Aethelflaed is called, is a fantastic main character.  I was so impressed with her intelligence, poise and inner strength.  She made the best of her arranged marriage and she and Ethelred build a relationship based on mutual respect and eventually love.  Theirs was an unexpected but beautiful love story.  Besides Teasel, I loved Frith.  His faithfulness to Teasel was so endearing.  I also liked how, despite the fact that he was more of a secondary character, he was still very well-developed. 

It was fascinating to read about the battles, politics and customs of the Saxons and Mercians and to see just how devastating the Viking raids were.  The author provides a great deal of historical detail and does a really good job of weaving it into the story.  As I said above, I know nothing about this period and hadn't even heard of Mercia until reading this book.  It was a really interesting period to read about and I have added it to my growing list of things to research more. 

The only complaint I had is that the book was a little slow to start but once I got into the story, I was hooked.  I would highly recommend To Be A Queen to any fan of historical fiction.  4 stars.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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