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Shadow on the Crown (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #1)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  2,455 ratings  ·  474 reviews
A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen 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 ri ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 7th 2013 by Viking (first published February 1st 2013)
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Seduction by M.J. RoseThe Aviator's Wife by Melanie BenjaminThe Firebird by Susanna KearsleyThe Midwife's Tale by Sam   ThomasThe White Princess by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction 2013
10th out of 614 books — 2,392 voters
Shadow on the Crown by Patricia BracewellOutlander by Diana GabaldonHer Highness, the Traitor by Susan HigginbothamVenus in Winter by Gillian BagwellThe Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
Historical Novel Society 2013
1st out of 43 books — 72 voters

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Community Reviews

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Shadow on the Crown is the first in a trilogy based on the life of Emma of Normandy. I'm feeling lazy today and other reviewers here have recapped everything nicely, so I'll pass on another rehash.

I thought this was a solid effort from a first time writer, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. Having read Helen Hollick's The Forever Queen (also published as A Hollow Crown), I was already familiar with the basics of Emma's life, but since there are so many gaps in the historical rec

On Christmas morning, 1001AD King Aethelred of England's wife dies giving birth to their twelfth child. As king, he must find a second wife. Seeing an opportunity to strengthen his borders and make an alliance with Normandy, he agrees to a marriage with Emma, the sixteen year-old sister to the Duke of Normandy.

Thirty-five year-old Aethelred is cruel, unpredictable and haunted. He treats Emma as little more than his broodmare, and fails to see the intelligent and clever woman she is, and the asse
Sadly, most people (even Anglophiles) are less versed with the Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods of English rule. Some may have heard of Emma of Normandy but only because she is the mother of Edward the Confessor. Patricia Bracewell attempts to remedy Emma’s silence in “Shadow on the Crown”.

“Shadow on the Crown” begins in a slightly overwhelming manner, as a surplus of characters are introduced within alternating chapters/viewpoints making it somewhat difficult to immediately feel a connection or g
Where I got the book: purchased at a conference. Signed. I know Pat Bracewell from the conference circuit and Facebook.

This was my one buy at the 2013 Historical Novel Society conference because I'd read good things about it on Goodreads. I wasn't disappointed. I don't generally like "kings and queens" historical fiction, but I enjoyed this account of Emma of Normandy's marriage to the king known in modern times as Ethelred the Unready. Possibly because OH THANK HEAVEN it was written in third pe
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I'm going to have to start this review with the publisher's summary, simply because it's a really good one and does the job so much better than I would be able to:

England, A.D. 1002

In a world lit by fire and ruled by the sword, a fifteen-year-old girl kneels to receive an English crown – an act that will echo down the ages.

Within that circlet of gold the ambitions of four powerful men are about to collide, for this young queen is the key to all that they desire.

To a calculating Norman duke she
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
A copy of Shadow on the Crown was provided to me by Viking Adult/Netgalley for review purposes.

"You must ever be prepared within yourself to face what trials may lay in store for you. let this be your first lesson: No one else must see you like this, Emma. Do you hear me? However great the provocation you must never allow anyone to see your fear."

I'm a huge fan of historical fiction novels but to be honest, I don't branch out enough outside of my comfortable safe-zone kn
As I sit down to write this review, I find myself conflicted. Part of this book was very interesting to me and I enjoyed it. But there were things that I just didn’t like and couldn’t look past which affected my overall enjoyment of the book. I can’t call myself an expert on historical fiction but I have read my fair share and enjoyed quite a good number of them. I am not entirely sure this is one of them.

Let me begin with Emma. Emma starts this story at the age of 15. She is sent by her brother
This is an excellent debut historical fiction novel. The plot is captivating, the characters are vivid and complex and the time period is portrayed so starkly real that I could see, taste, smell and feel everything that our central protagonist, Emma, did. It was brilliant from start to finish.
Emma of Normandy is mostly known for her role as the mother of Edward the Confessor and also for her second marriage to Cnut the Great, when she became the Queen of England once more. This novel however foc
I am torn: part of me is intrigued by Emma and what her role will be in the development of England, and the part of me is not eager to pick up the next book in this trilogy. I think that means a biography is in order. (Biographies are always in order.)

Here are my problems:

(view spoiler)
"Shadow on the Crown" is a beautifully written historical novel of love, loss, suffering and determination. Patricia Bracewell has created a vibrant world full of rich, engaging characters for the enjoyment of her readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, as it was well researched, creatively crafted and an overall enjoyable experience. If you are a fan of historical fiction, this book will not disappoint.

The author has filled her pages with immaculate dialogue that transported me back i
It never ceases to amaze me when I read a book such as this – one that is steeped in research and history and then weaved into a believable tale that is ripe with plot, voice and pacing. I’m all the more amazed for this is Bracewell’s debut novel.

This novel is based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and fictionalizes the reign of King Athelred and his Norman queen, Emma. Bracewell does a superb job crafting a story rich in history, period details and vernacular that the reade
Rebecca Huston
I had gone into this one expecting that it was going to be yet another historical romance, but instead found it to be a fairly solid historical novel. Not too many novels are set in England before the Norman Conquest, and this one tells the story of Emma, the sister of the Duke of Normandy who marries AEthelred II, king of the English. Expecting at least affection, Emma discovers herself in a court where her husband sees her as just a vessel to breed up sons on, a mistress who isn't above treach ...more
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Patricia Bracewell's Shadow on the Crown marked my first encounter with Emma of Normandy. The historic record is sketchy at best, so it isn't as if there's a lot of information for those looking to learn more about her, but even the basics were new to me. Naturally this blank slate mentality made it difficult to discern where fact met fiction, but it also made reading the book a unique experience as I was able to really lose
Started this book as a quick indulgent Saturday night read, and the writing was certainly more competent than I expected. However, I found the constant and unmitigated abuse of women (physical and sexual) to be very grating. While I understand that this was a common feature of medieval society, I feel that it was given undue reign in a book that took many imaginative liberties. I kept hoping for the two main female characters to overcome their social restraints and assert themselves; instead the ...more

3.5 stars.

Being the second of only two novels written about Emma of Normandy so far, it’s difficult not to compare this to the first, Helen Hollick’s The Forever Queen. Hollick’s novel is one of my favorites and so it would be difficult to stand up against in my eyes. At the same time, it's difficult to compare them because this novel only covers a portion of Emma's life whereas Hollick's novel covers her whole life.

Shadow on the Crown tells a tale of a st
Brilliant. Just brilliant.

The beautifully described settings transport the reader to Saxon England. The complex and skillfully developed characters become friends . . . or enemies. Scenes of drama, love, and suspense are interspersed with quotes from historical texts, showing how and where the author embellished Emma of Normandy's story. Since her story takes place at the beginning of the 11th century, there is much left to the imagination. Bracewell fills in these gaps marvelously. I enjoyed t
Shiloh (Fantastic Reading)
Shadow on the Crowncovers a few years around 1006, during the reign of Æthelred the Unready in England. Emma, a Norman, is sent to marry Æthelred in order to secure peace between the Normans and the English. But Æthelred is cruel, more interested in another woman, and all but ignores Emma. And Emma finds herself falling for Æthelred's son, Athelstan. Emma struggles to keep her place as queen of England, despite rivals, a miscarriage, and her own dislike ofÆthelred. And, of course, she gives birt ...more
Cynthia Mcarthur
In Shadow on the Crown, Patricia Bracewell has written an engaging story about Queen Emma and her journey from Normandy to England, embellished with forbidden love, crushing sense of duty, and ultimately hope.
King Aethelred (the Unready) of England’s uncrowned wife has died in childbirth, and admidst unrest on his council and Viking raiders on England’s shores, he is forced into an alliance with Normandy. Emma is to be the peaceweaver whose influence spans the Narrow Sea. To Emma’s disappointme
Rio (Lynne)
3.5 Stars. This first book in this trilogy about Emma of Normandy started strong. Having read The Forever Queen, I enjoyed this different take from Bracewell. The first book covers Emma's marriage to AEthelred. This subject was braised over in The Forever Queen, so I enjoyed more detail and more history, especially the St. Brice's Day Massacre. The second half of the book on the other hand started dragging for me. Unnecessary storylines about side characters took up too many pages, in my opinion ...more
Krystal Marlein
I received a copy to review as a goodreads first reads winner.

I started reading this book with an open mind. Not generally my genre, which I really should just leave a expectations behind because frankly I've come to find I don't rely have a set genre I like to read anymore. This book takes place long in the past when Kings & Queens ruled the land. As a debut novel I have to say it was very well written, consistent and easy to understand. I find more often than not novels written in this gen
Melisende d'Outremer
Highly enjoyable story that kept me captivated from start to finish. Enjoyed the way the author uses poetic license to fill in the blanks which does not detract from the story at all. Eagerly anticipating installments 2 and 3.
Read by Katie Firth
Length 13.7 hrs

This is the story of King Athelred of England and two women who fight for conquering his love: Emma, his Norman bride and Elgiva, his Anglo Saxon mistress.
Jo Barton
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 t ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Diayll rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc
Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Controllers
Review Source: Publisher
Reviewer: Me

Shadow on the Crown is an electrifying and adventurous breath of fresh air. It’s a medieval and semi-historical tale, which read with the appreciated ease of a swashbuckling fantasy. I couldn’t put it down, I did NOT want to put it down. The novel transported me to places, ignited my imagination, and delighted every book loving bone in my body.

Based off the events recorded in the Anglo-
Deborah Hilcove
Patricia Bracewell's debut novel, Shadow on the Crown, is the first of a planned trilogy about Emma of Normandy, wed at age fifteen to King Aethelred of England in 1002. Bracewell frames her story with The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and fills historical gaps with research gleaned from medieval wills, letters and other church and civil documents.

Building upon this, Bracewell imagines the main characters of the story: Emma, young but strong and resolute, determined to do her duty as England's queen; Ae
Helen Hart
Novelist Patricia Bracewell has expertly recreated the early 11th century Anglo-Saxon court. It's clear that Royalty was less a privilege than an endurance test, and one where survival isn't guaranteed - which reminded me of Cersei Lanniester's statement in 'Game of Thrones': "You win, or you die".

In this first part of a trilogy, Emma of Normandy lives her life as a pawn in the larger political picture of the time. Patricia Bracewell lyrically describes the difficulties and pressure of living a
Sara Giacalone
I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Bracewell's imagining of Queen Emma's early years of marriage to King Athelred and am eagerly anticipating the second and third books in the series. I especially liked her portrayal of King Athelred - his mistrust, his inner deamons, his brutality; and her inclusion of a meeting with a young Cnut. Well done!!
Marsha Lambert
Patricia Bracewell writes a compelling tale of the young Queen Emma of Normandy as she begins her life as Queen of England with all the struggles that Queenship entails. The characters are all finely written within the atmosphere of the times. This book was a real page turner that I did not want to end. I am anxiously awaiting book two.
This and other reviews can be found at

It's 1002 when Emma is introduced in this 1st book of a planned trilogy. Having never read anything in this time period I looked forward to reading this with eager anticipation.

Right from the beginning I liked Emma, being sister to the Duke of Normany she was his political pawn. Sent to England to marry the King, AEthelred it was negotiated that she would also be crowned Queen, thus creating enemies before she even had a chance to prov
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Feb 15, 2015 04:06PM  
GIVEAWAY and Author Guest Post... 1 24 Feb 07, 2013 06:28AM  
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Patricia Bracewell grew up in Los Angeles where her love of stories led to college degrees in Literature, a career as a high school English teacher, and a yearning to write. She has completed the first two books of her trilogy about the 11th century queen of England, Emma of Normandy, Shadow on the Crown and The Price of Blood, available as books, e-books and audiobooks. She is currently at work o ...more
More about Patricia Bracewell...

Other Books in the Series

The Emma of Normandy Trilogy (2 books)
  • The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy, #2)
The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy, #2)

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“As Norman bride and English queen she would walk a fine line between the interests of two rulers -- her brother and her lord. Both men would demand her fealty. One, at least, would exact a heavy price if she were to prove disloyal.” 4 likes
“His vision blurred to haze, the sounds of feasting stilled, and from every dark corner, shadows streamed toward him until they reached the dais and formed a pulsing darkness before him. From its murky heart, his dead brother's face, eyes glowing and malignant, stared into his.” 2 likes
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