Monday, 29 September 2008

The First Princess of Wales

When the lovely and high-spirited Joan of Kent is sent to this politically charged court, she is woefully unprepared for the underhanded maneuverings of her peers. Determined to increase the breadth of his rule, the king will use any means necessary to gain control of France—including manipulating his own son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Joan plots to become involved with the prince to scandalize the royal family, for she has learned they engineered her father’s downfall and death. But what begins as a calculated strategy soon—to Joan’s surprise—grows into love. When Joan learns that Edward returns her feelings, she is soon fighting her own, for how can she love the man that ruined her family? And, if she does, what will be the cost?My thoughts: Karen Harper's Story of Joan of Kent was an ok read at sometimes the book seemed to drag on and I didnt feel that I was really being entertained at all.It wasn't one of my favorites but I may hold on to the book and reread it in the future to see if my views change.

The Other Queen By Philippa Gregory

The long awaited story of Mary Queen of scots by Philippa Gregory has arrived but it left alot of things desired. Gregory chose to tell the story of the capture of Mary Queen of Scots using the Three first person views. Bess of Hardwick and Her husband The Earl of Shrewsbury and The Queen of Scotland. With only three or four pages dedicated to each character it was really hard to become engaged in the story. The characters were flat to me they didn't have any real personalities I felt like I was reading notes that they left behind. I was really disappointed in this book i expected more of "bang" for the end of the Tudor series but this was a complete disaster for any Philippa Gregory fan.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

I loved this book ... I'm a huge fan of traditional epic tales, and Crichton's reworking of Beowulf didn't fail to impress.

'Written' by Ibn Fadlan, emissary of a Caliph, it tells the tale of his journey with a group of Northmen / Norsemen who return home when summoned by Rothgar to help defeat the Wendol who keep terrorising villages.
The leader Buliwyf (Beowulf) and his men faced the fierce hairy savage wendol (Grendel), their snake haired mother who lives in a cave, and the fire serpent (the wendols with torches snaking down the hillside).
Fierce battles, Viking lifestyle, an Arab emissary, and monsters galore, make for a brilliant tale. It even has footnotes, commentary and an appendix...all fictional though.

Crichton cleverly weaves the actual tales of Ahmed ibn Fadhlan and the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, into this brilliantly constructed story.
At the end Crichton explains why he wrote the tale, his love of Beowulf and his reading of some of Ahmed ibn Fadhlan tales in college.

A lovely book.
Read it or at least see the film the 13th Warrior which is based on this. The film weaves in all three monsters which Beowulf faces in the poem ... Grendel (the wendol), the mother and the dragon (fire serpent).

Read 22/9/08


Sorry about the first post - hit the wrong key!!

This book features various authors:
Michael Jecks
Susanna Gregory
Bernard Knight
Ian Morson
Philip Gooden
Simon Beaufort

The prologue is by Simon Beaufort, and then the other authors follow on with the theme of the story. I particularly enjoyed this aspect: (I recently joined a writing group, and we have just completed an exercise along the same lines).

July 1100 Jerusalem is the setting - the Holy City has been ransacked by the Crusader armies, and amidst the chaos, an English Knight named Geoffrey Mappestone is entrusted with a valuable religious relic - a fragment of the true cross, allegedly stained with the Blood of Christ. And the relic is said to be cursed - anyone who touches it will meet with an untimely end as soon as it leaves their possession.

Several decades later the Cross turns up, and Bernard Knight's character Crowner John joins the story.
Next stage is in Oxford 1269, Ian Morson's sleuth William Falconer is the person investigating a spate of deaths.
1323 sees Sir Baldwin (author Michael Jecks) with the solving of 5 deaths.
30 years later, Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael have their parts to play, and finally the relic is now in London, and Philip Gooden's character Nick Revill features.

The stories are well written and you would think that the same author has penned the book - good characters all the way through.

All of the authors(historical mystery writers) are members of the Crime Writers Association and this has been a great collaboration.


THE TAINTED RELIC (The Medieval Murderers)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500 (Women In History) by Henrietta Leyser

Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500 (Women In History) by Henrietta Leyser

Excellent book - covering women's lives over 1000 years.The book starts with the Anglo- Saxons and proceeds to the later Middle Ages.
There are chapters on archeology, law, sex, marriage, motherhood, widowhood, monasticism etc. Throughout you get a real sense of women's lives and the challenges they faced.
Women from all walks of life are described..from peasant to royalty. Their changing economic and legal status is investigated, as well as their day to day lives.
At the end the appendix even includes primary sources including laws, poems and even a 13th century gynaecological handbook!
This book is not only interesting to those interested in women's history, but also gives a good background to those who read medieval romances etc.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


I am off the mark, and have read one of the books from my list.
Wise Woman's Telling is the first in the Daughter of Tintagel series and I am looking forward to the other books.

The story tells of Uther Pendragon, who with the aid of the Cornish warlord Gorlois, united the scattered kingdoms to defeat the invading Saxons. To celebrate the victory, he summons his chieftains, and their ladies, to a feast in London.

What happens at this feast, changes the lives of Gorlois and his family = Uther Pendragon falls in love with Ygerne - Gorlois's wife, and nothing will stand in his way.
Ygerne's 3 daughters get involved in the clash, but the youngest Morgan, who idolises her father Gorlois, is hearbroken when he is killed, and does not trust Merlyn.

Eventhough the story is told by the old nurse Gwennol, you don't feel distracted throughout the story, and I am eager to read the next part - White Nun's Telling.

Uther Pendragon marries Ygerne, and a child Arthur is born, but is appears that Uther has promised the boy to Merlyn and this is where the story ends, with Merlyn taking Arthur.