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Review: The Lute Player, Norah Lofts

luteYoung lute player Blondel recognizes his luck when he is conscripted to play for the princess Berengaria, even when he longs to get away.  Soon, however, he falls in love with Berengaria, and his disabled rescuer Anna, duchess of Apieta, falls in love with him.  But Berengaria loves Richard of England, and has longed for his hand in marriage ever since she saw him play in a tournament.  She’s determined to marry him, and all the players in this novel must bow to her whims, and eventually to the whims of Richard the Lionhearted as he attempts to fulfill his life goal of crusading.

This book definitely fell victim to my recent avoidance of historical fiction.  I still love medieval history, but it’s gotten to the point where I’ve read so much that I’ve really heard it all before, particularly with regard to the most popular periods in history.  As I was reading this book, for example, I could hear my undergraduate professor telling me all about the crusades, about Saladin and Richard, and about Berengaria and how Eleanor of Aquitaine brought her across various countries just to get Richard to marry her.  When I’m seeking something fresh and new, I don’t particularly want to read something where I know what’s going to happen.  Of course I didn’t know all the details, but I’m just trying to express my own frustration so it doesn’t put others off reading these books.

And as medieval historical fiction goes, this isn’t a bad choice at all.  Told through alternating viewpoints, the reader gets a full picture of a twelfth century crusade, as well as life in Spain and eventually England.  The history is a little dated since the book came out in the 50’s, but I don’t think anyone else would really notice since most of the ideas are still the same, and her account of the crusade is surprisingly accurate.  I was pretty sure that Richard had an illegitimate son, and Wikipedia agreed with me (with reliable sources), so perhaps no one had investigated that yet.  The writing, however, doesn’t feel at all dated, and I could easily imagine this book coming out today as new.  As ever, the crusade is the most interesting part of the book for its sheer oddity.

I found some of the characters defied belief somewhat; it’s impossible to imagine Berengaria actually attempting some of the things she does for a man she hadn’t ever spoken to, who was barely aware of her existence, for example.  My favorite was Anna Apieta, typically the most fictional of them all, but she was a fascinating character.  She is crippled from birth, but she’s been given advantages because she’s the illegitimate daughter of a king, and so she’s much more aware of the plight of the poorest people than any of the others, and she has a great deal of sympathy.  I could never blame her for her bitterness and frustration towards Berengaria, because who wouldn’t struggle to be constantly in the presence of a beautiful half-sister?  Her ability to stay with that half-sister through many trials is admirable and makes her by far the strongest character in the book.

Overall, if you do enjoy historical fiction set in the medieval period, I think you could hardly go wrong with The Lute Player.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review.

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Review: Gawain and the Green Knight

At the beginning of Classics Month, Tasha at Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books and I challenged each other to read a book from our specialities.  For her I chose Gawain and the Green Knight, a fairly well-known classic of medieval literature.  To check out my review of Nadja by Andre Breton, head on over to her blog.

forest

The Hunt in the Forest by Paolo Uccello, c. 1470

I

Gather all and put much thought

to a tale of noble Camelot.

On New Year’s Eve the court did gather

With wine and beer and much blather

Ladies fair and knights bold

Plus Gweneviere and Arthur, we are told

When all at once, what should they see

But a walking, talking Christmas tree!

(Actually it’s a man)

Yes, ’twas a man, but green

hair green, skin green, tongue green

Of great stature and much mass

Even his horse was the color of grass

Everything green, but eyes that were red

Even an idiot could guess where this led

But not Arthur and his patriotic knights

Who thought the green man rather nice

(How stupid are they?)
The Christmas Tree spoke, and offered a game

To anyone brave enough to issue his name

Strike a blow against the green man, and when the time came

A year from the next day, the green man would do the same.

What’s in it for the knights, one might wonder

But Sir Gawain this did not ponder.

He accepted the ax, and the green man knelt

Then to his neck, a fatal blow Wawain dealt.

(He chopped the Christmas Tree’s head off)

The head rolled about, the court watching whence it should land

Dismissing the Green Man, and thinking the matter at an end

Green blood spurted out from the tree

And Gawain anticipated congratulations there’d be

But the Christmas Tree rose from where he sat

And calmly collected his body’s hat

Holding his head, he told Gawain the way to his home

To meet a year from then, and to come alone

After which he left.

II

Despite that Gawain was not too bright,

Even he knew to do what was right

Honor and chivalry demanded

He meet the Christmas Tree and be beheaded

Thus he set out in the morning

Uncertain about where he was going

A year later, and with much apprehension

For a view of reaching the Green Man’s mansion

(Which I’m guessing is in a forest)

But alas our knight knew not left from right

(re: none too bright)

Far and wide our hero did bumble

Searching for Green Man’s Green Chapel.

He was cold, and hungry, and sad to boot

When what should he spy: a moat!

Connected to a grand castle with turrets and flags

And the friendliest host Gawain’d ever had.

Almost TOO friendly.

The man himself was handsome and wealthy

With two others in residence: an old woman quite stealthy,

And a wife so beautiful she left Gawain nonplussed;

They took one look at each other and fell into lust.

Then with Gawain, a bargain the host assayed

That he would go hunting during the day

Upon his return, his catch he would giveth

And Gawain his daily claims would returneth.

Sounds like another sketchy deal to me.

But Gawain, like an idiot, pronounced his agreement

And into more trouble our hero descendeth.

But I shall say no more of Wawain’s toil

For fear that his tale I will spoil

At first I thought this story difficult to read

I did not comprehend the why of the characters’ deeds

But then Gawain met the lady, sorely tempting

And things got MUCH more entertaining.

But who doesn’t like a little romance, right?

Tis clear that this tale is all about pursuit:

of animals, women, and bravery to salute.

For while the host was hunting game,

The hostess was chasing down Gawain

Quite a dilemma for him to be thinking about

But of course not much thinking is done by that clout

Still, there’s a twist that I thought was grand

For in everything, a famous woman has a hand.

Highly recommended!

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Review: The Stolen Crown, Susan Higginbotham

stolencrownWhen her sister Elizabeth Woodville secretly marries the King of England, Katherine Woodville’s future changes irrevocably.  In the rush to marry off the many Woodville siblings, Kate becomes a duchess when Henry Stafford, duke of Buckingham, is chosen for her.  Kate and Harry are children when they marry, but as they grow together they fall in love easily.  But always in the way is Richard, duke of Gloucester, Harry’s idol from childhood.  When Richard’s ambition leads him to sanction unspeakable deeds, Harry must choose whether to maintain his blind loyalty or strike out against his closest friend.

I’ve enjoyed both of Susan Higginbotham’s previous works and I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this one, too.  I will admit that I found the beginning slightly tedious; a lot of it is recounting of history I already knew, so it might be perfectly fine for a reader who isn’t quite so familiar with late fifteenth century England.  Once Kate and Henry start to grow, however, the book becomes really enjoyable.  Their love story and affection for one another are often sweet and I liked watching them grow up together and move into maturity.

I also liked that Higginbotham actually made me like the duke of Buckingham.  I might have thought that impossible, but she does it successfully.  I even liked her version of Richard III here; he does horrendous things, but he never seems like an evil villain.  Just an ambitious, somewhat foolish, man, happy to bend the course of history in his direction when he can.  The author also blends facts in liberally.  I recognized so much from my own research and I have to admit that I smiled whenever I found a particular tidbit that only someone who had done some digging would know.  I read her blog, so I also know that she seeks out original sources whenever possible, which I always appreciate.  She includes a bibliography in the back for anyone who has a desire to read yet more about the Wars of the Roses, as well as a detailed author’s note for those who want to know what is fact and what is fiction.  If you like historical accuracy in with your fiction, look no further than Ms. Higginbotham.

The Stolen Crown is a great addition to the many works of fiction about the Wars of the Roses in England.  It’s refreshing to read about characters who tread the middle ground – there are no villains or saints here, just people.  I really liked it.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review.

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Review: The Lily and the Leopard, Susan Wiggs

Or, the problem with older romance novels.

Belliane, better known as Lianna, is a Frenchwoman determined to keep her castle in Normandy at all costs.  But Henry V is invading, and he wants to marry her to Enguerrand of England, both to promote his friend and make life easier for himself.  In protest, Lianna marries a Frenchman, but meets Rand not knowing who he is.  Lianna and Rand both lie to one another and begin to fall in love – until Lianna’s husband dies and marriage goes on as planned.  Both betrayed in the midst of battle, Lianna and Rand must decide what really matters to them, love or country.

I almost gave up this book on every other page.  I don’t honestly know why I kept going.  It has all my least favorite aspects of a romance novel.  These two lust after one another and suddenly decide it’s love.  Their lies are the foundation for almost everything bad that happens to them, and they don’t forgive one another even though of course they have to sleep with each other all the time.  Because when you’re furious with someone, you really want to have sex with them.  Yep.  And Lianna is almost too unconventional to be true; how many noble ladies went around in the smocks of poor women with their hair down and learned to shoot newfangled guns?  Sure, it’s a war, but I just found it very hard to believe.  Besides that, she’s too stupid to live.  She doesn’t realize the French guy she’s marrying is a slimeball, she walks straight into at least two traps, and she leaves her baby in the care of the wife of slimeball’s son.  She’s basically the cause of ALL the relationship problems as Rand is completely lovesick.

The love story was the most disappointing one I’ve read in a long time, and the characters had dialogue I couldn’t imagine anyone saying.  It’s too corny, too impassioned, too ridiculous.  Very few romances are historically accurate in this respect, but I have to at least believe in the chemistry to put all that aside.  And here I did not.  Reading this book helped me realize how people could easily disdain the genre.

I do have to give the author a little respect, though, because her history is largely accurate.  All the hallmarks of Henry V’s campaign and Agincourt are here, and all in all once Lianna and Rand are married and stop stripping every five seconds the book doesn’t suffer quite so much.  The only part that annoyed me with the history was the constant mentions of chivalry, and it’s clear that the author doesn’t quite understand that chivalry == war for medieval knights.  It’s not the Victorian always-be-nice-to-ladies idea.  That’s only a tiny part of it.  Being violent is being chivalric.  That’s the point.  All medieval romances aren’t this bad; I just read Scoundrel’s Kiss and enjoyed it a lot.  The Lily and the Leopard just reinforces all the stereotypes.  When you seriously hope there isn’t going to be a happy ending because you hate the characters, you know you have a problem.  Yuck.

No Amazon link; the book is out of print. And that’s a good thing. I bought this one so you don’t have to.

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Author Interview with Carrie Lofty and Giveaway

scoundrelskissYesterday, I reviewed Carrie’s newest book, Scoundrel’s Kiss.  I also had the pleasure of interviewing her recently and I hope you all enjoy the answers as much as I did!

1. I loved that Scoundrel’s Kiss was set outside the typical locations for a historical romance.  Why did you choose to set it in medieval Spain?

It’s set in the Kingdom of Castile, which comprises part of modern-day Spain. Thinking back, I don’t remember exactly what first started me thinking about Spain as a setting, but I knew I wanted to feature two elements to this story: a warrior monk and an opium addict. That meant I needed to find a place where their love could blossom. Spain was not only a hotbed of religious and military activity in the 13th century, but it was also along Arab trade routes. The Arabs traded with the Chinese, which mean that opium was available for purchase in Spain. Ta-dah! I’d found my setting.

2. Ada is a far cry from the average blushing virgin heroine.  Was it a difficult task for you to make an opium addict a sympathetic character?

Yes, Ada is…trying. It was difficult making her sympathetic, in that I disliked how Ada behaved toward the finale of my Robin Hood-themed debut, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. She makes her sister, Meg, make a really unfair choice, and her behavior is downright selfish. So I wasn’t in a sympathetic place when I sat down to write her love story. But then I remembered an old saying about villains: the villain is the hero of his own story. That jolted me into taking Ada’s side, so to speak, and learning where she was vulnerable, why she was hurting so desperately, and how I could help redeem her. In the end, I think her happily ever after is justly deserved, if only for how hard she works at earning it.

3. When it comes to writing, do you plot out your books carefully or does the story come to you as you go?

I start with the setting. Always. Then I research and brainstorm in tandem, trying to find my characters. What sort of people *could* have lived in this time and place? Are they native? Just passing through? There for the long haul? Bored and desperate to get out? Once I have the setting and the characters very firm in my mind, then I start writing and never look back. You could call me a prepared pantser!

4. Do you have a particular favorite time period in history?

I’ll always have a fondness for the American Old West. I did my master’s thesis on the lives and legends of Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickok, and how their stories helped shape American culture after the Civil War. Plus I was a sucker for western-set romances when I was a teenager, back when they were *everywhere*. I haven’t yet tried my hand at a western of my own, but I can’t help but think that I will someday. That period of history has been such a part of my life!

2815872360_6dcd11f150_o5. Are you planning on returning to any of the characters in Scoundrel’s Kiss for another book?  What’s next for you?

I’d like to continue with Jacob’s story, and then to find a partner for Blanca, but that remains to be seen. Otherwise, my historical romance set in Napoleonic Austria will help launch Carina Press, Harlequin’s new all-digital venture, in June. In it, a widowed violin prodigy begins a steamy affair with the renowned composer she’s always idolized, only to learn that he stole the symphony he’s most famous for. In addition, I’m co-writing with Ann Aguirre under the name Ellen Connor (http://EllenConnor.com). We write hot-n-dirty apocalyptic paranormal romances, and our “Dark Age Dawning” trilogy will be coming soon from Penguin.

6. What do you suggest we read while waiting for your next book?  Any favorites you’d like to share with us?

I love lush, beautiful writing, so my favorite romance authors are Candice Procter, Penelope Williamson, Laura Kinsale, and Patricia Gaffney. They all craft such amazing stories, not simply packed with emotion and fascinating characters, but with poetic language to describe every aspect of the hero and heroine’s lives. I read those books and knew that’s what I wanted to write. Those are the kinds of stories I love to read, so why not give them a try in my own style with my own unique voice? I’d unabashedly recommend any of their books to those who haven’t yet read them!

Thanks for stopping by, Carrie!

To win a copy of Scoundrel’s Kiss for your very own, just leave a comment.  There is one up for grabs.  Readers in the US and Canada will receive a signed copy, whereas international readers will receive an unsigned copy from the Book Depository.  Make sure you leave a valid email address in the “email” field of the comment form to win.  This contest will be open until January 26th.  Good luck! The winner of this contest is Lana.

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Review: Scoundrel’s Kiss, Carrie Lofty

Ada, an Englishwoman who has found herself in medieval Spain after fleeing her homeland, is addicted to opium and will do almost anything to get it.  She ends up at a slavery auction, blissfully addicted and completely unaware of her circumstances.  Luckily for her, she’s spotted by two men: Gavriel, a former warrior and now dedicated novice, and her friend Jacob.  Between them, they rescue her and take her away, but she faces a hard battle fighting her opium addiction.  Can Gavriel’s dedication to her cure her of her addiction – and help him face down the trouble from his past?

I loved how this romance was different and yet still had all the essential ingredients for a wonderful romantic read.  First off, the book is set in medieval Spain.  There’s currently a total glut of historical romance (and regular fiction for that matter) set in England, which is all well and good, but sometimes I’m looking for something different.  This fit that bill, and the author even includes a helpful note about what’s accurate and what’s different about her history at the end.  I love when authors do this, it shows such dedication to their research that I really respect and admire.  Her website lists the books she used to research in case readers are interested.

Secondly, I loved the characters.  Gavriel himself feels familiar, as there are plenty of emotionally scarred warriors hanging around in the romance genre (I think immediately of Kev/Merripen in Seduce Me at Sunrise), but his character is done well and his journey to redemption is admirable and engaging.

It’s Ada that is different.  She has severe issues with her life; opium addiction just one of the ways in which she is unusual.  She’s treated her sister horribly, she’s seduced a man for her own purposes, and she’s not even willing to be rescued from the drug she’s addicted to.  I started the book really wondering how the author was going to pull this off.  Characters are absolutely essential to a successful romance, because really the entire book is centralized on the relationship between two people, and Ada was not a character that I liked at first.  Somehow, though, I found myself really caring about Ada by the end.  She recovers herself and realizes that many of her actions have been wrong, and that she can do better.  Gavriel helps her on that path, but it’s really her that becomes strong and dedicated, and he’s not a necessity for it to happen.

Finally, I really loved the adventurous take that Lofty took with this one.  Everyone fights and travels, so there is plenty of action mixed in with the more thoughtful and romantic scenes.  It really helps to move the book along and provide a dimension which isn’t totally focused on the central romance.  I always appreciate that.

Scoundrel’s Kiss has made me especially eager to read the author’s first book, What A Scoundrel Wants, which uses the Robin Hood legends and introduces Ada and her sister.  This was a great read and I definitely recommend it.

I am an Amazon Associate, so if you purchase books through my links I will earn a tiny percentage of the profit at no cost to you. Thanks! I received this book for free from the author as an ebook.

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A Tournament of Reading: Book Choices

atournamentofreading

In conjunction with my 2010 medieval reading challenge, A Tournament of Reading, I’ve come up with a list of books in each of the three categories that I recommend.  First, here’s my list of potential reads, at the King level of course:

  • Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin (historical fiction)
  • The Making of the Middle Ages, R.W. Southern (history)
  • The Needle in the Blood, Sarah Bower (historical fiction)
  • The Knight and the Rose, Isolde Martyn (historical romance)
  • Lady of the Roses, Sandra Worth (historical fiction)
  • Cluny: In Search of God’s Lost Empire, Edward Mullins (history)
  • The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe (medieval literature)
  • English Society in the Later Middle Ages, Maurice Keen (history)
  • The Mabinogion, unknown author (medieval literature)
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, unknown author (medieval literature)

And the many books that you could read:

History

  • The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
  • Blood and Roses by Helen Castor
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
  • Queen Isabella by Alison Weir
  • The Perfect King: The Life of Edward I by Ian Mortimer
  • The Making of the Middle Ages by R.W. Southern
  • The First Crusade: A New History by Thomas Asbridge
  • The Crusades by Jonathan Riley-Smith
  • The Making of England to 1399 by C. Warren Hollister
  • Chivalry by Maurice Keen
  • English Society in the Later Middle Ages by Maurice Keen
  • The Crusades by Hans Eberhard Mayer
  • The Anglo-Saxons by James Campbell

Historical Fiction

  • Authors
  1. Elizabeth Chadwick
  2. Sharon Kay Penman
  3. Nicole Galland
  4. Susan Higginbotham
  5. Sandra Worth
  6. Helen Hollick
  7. Bernard Cornwell (Agincourt, Saxon Chronicles series, Grail Quest series, Arthurian series)
  • Books
  1. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
  2. Katherine by Anya Setton
  3. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
  4. The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower
  5. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
  6. The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett
  7. Flint by Margaret Redfern
  8. Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott
  9. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
  10. The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Medieval Literature

  • The romances of Chretien de Troyes
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (and really anything else that Chaucer wrote or translated)
  • Gawain and the Green Knight by Gawain-poet
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
  • Beowulf
  • The Mabinogion
  • The Memoirs of Margery Kempe

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments for others (and for me)!

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Challenge Announcement: A Tournament of Reading

atournamentofreadingTook me long enough, didn’t it?

This challenge is designed to get us all reading a little more medieval literature in 2010.  The challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st, 2010, and will be hosted right here at Medieval Bookworm.  Challenge genres include history, medieval literature, and historical fiction.  Medieval, for simplicity of definition, will be from 500-1500, and literature from all over the world is welcome, not just western Europe.  There are 3 levels:

  • Peasant – Read 3 medieval books of any kind.
  • Lord – Read 6 medieval books, at least one of each kind.
  • King – Read 9 medieval books, at least two of each kind.

You’re not required to make a list or stick to one, but it would be fun if you did!  A recommendations post will also be up today, to help you make choices.

When you finish a book, pop your link onto this page.

To sign up, just click below and add your name and sign up post to the McLinky below.  Sick of writing sign up posts?  Just put your blog URL, so I know who’s planning on doing the challenge.  You can sign up at any time.

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Review: The First Crusade, Thomas Asbridge

The first crusade is one of history’s most peculiar moments.  Inspired by a speech that will probably never be known in its entirety, hoards of western Europeans embarked on a crusade to “save” their fellow Christians, the Greeks, from Muslims and recapture Jerusalem.  Against all the odds, the crusaders succeeded in a way that was never repeated, and changed relations between religions in ways that still affect behavior to this day.  Thomas Asbridge takes this familiar story and recasts it, considering again the evidence that historians have always relied upon and offering up new ideas for consideration.

I really enjoyed this detailed look at the first crusade.  I’ve read a number of books on the crusades, but they largely covered the whole of the crusading movement.  This narrative brought my favorite professor’s voice right back to me while still questioning some of the theories that historians have relied upon.  Perhaps my favorite of these was the way Asbridge explored, in detail, the motives behind the crusade.  He postulates that Pope Urban wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of a papal army and that the papacy desperately needed a way to assert their own strength in an age of weakness and poor communication.  He could not have truly expected the vast response to his call for a crusade.

More interesting is the way in which Muslims actually treated Christians fairly before the crusade.  There is no record of any of the cruelties Urban accused them of (according to witnesses after the crusade had already happened; the speech itself has been lost), but rather fairness and freedom of worship.  The crusaders abolished this, but he goes on in later chapters to write about dealings between Christians and Muslims, making it clear that eradicating Islam was not the crusaders’ goal, even if they succeeded in earning enmity from all Muslims because of their barbaric cruelty.  Asbridge doesn’t spare the details.

For a history which was clearly done with effective scholarship in mind, this book is not at all dry, and the action sequences can be quite exciting.  I often found myself feeling strong emotions towards the crusaders, generally disgust and irritation at their behavior towards the Muslims.  Mostly, I was amazed that this happened, and reading the history again only confirmed that for me.  This is the sort of history that is almost unbelievable, but it happened, and it’s very worth reading about.  Not only does it make for a fascinating story, but it even sheds light on the complex issues which Christians and Muslims still struggle with today in regards to their relations with one another.  This is an essential part of the development of the world and Asbridge’s book is a wonderful place to start thinking about it.

I highly recommend The First Crusade and I’m very much looking forward to Asbridge’s overall look at the crusades, which is publishing next year.  I will be reviewing that in 2010, so if this review has interested you at all, stay tuned.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book from the publisher free for review here.

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Review: The Winter Mantle, Elizabeth Chadwick

Raised to a rigorous Norman standard, Judith, niece to the new Norman king of England, William the Conquerer, is alarmed at her unexpected attraction to an English lord, Waltheof of Huntingdon.  The attraction is more than mutual, and Waltheof immediately petitions for her hand in marriage.  Witnessing their peculiar attraction is young Simon de Senlis, son of the king’s chamberlain, who is injured by Judith’s boldness in choosing a horse she can’t handle.  While Judith and Waltheof are undeniably attracted to one another, setting aside their differences for the sake of their marriage is perhaps more than this couple can bear.

I love Elizabeth Chadwick’s books.  Her medieval settings are rich with color and life, while her characters could stroll off the page remarkably easily.  Even with this detail, however, which I know she meticulously researches, all of her novels are driven by their characters and their complex relationships with one another.  I thought this book was a simple romance, but it turns out to be a multi-generational story of forgiveness for all of the characters.  They are for the most part historical characters and Chadwick fleshes out the bare bones of their recorded lives to give us a living, breathing story that is a pleasure to read.

It’s hard to pick out what I appreciate the most here.  Despite its five hundred pages, the story simply flew by, and a great deal happens over the course of the narrative.  The book is never boring or slow despite the length and I was in fact eager to see what happened next, because things did not go at all as I’d predicted.  I wondered how she was going to fill 500 pages with one romance, but of course there is more than that; two romances and even a crusade.  Chadwick slips in little historical details over the course of the book, like the way the Normans cut their hair as opposed to the English, or the metal bands that Waltheof wears around his wrists from his Viking ancestors.

The characters are real and as frustrating sometimes as they are lovable.  I wanted to shake both Judith and Waltheof as they struggled so much over their differences, but they truly came from different cultures.  Simple attraction couldn’t overcome the vast difference in what they wanted from their lives and what they thought was appropriate, and this could be as true of any twenty-first century couple as it is of this eleventh century one.  Their descendants are very charismatic and in fact more appealing than Judith and Waltheof, which brought the story to a very enjoyable conclusion.

I’ve really enjoyed all of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books so far, and The Winter Mantle is no exception.  I highly recommend any of her books for engrossing historical fiction.

I am an Amazon Associate. I purchased this book.

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