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The Lute Player

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  412 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Out of the courts of twelfth-century England strode the legendary figure of Richard of England - leading his knights onto the Saracen battlefields - inspired by a vision of the Holy Land.Here is the story of the Soldier-King and the Third Crusade - of his strange, ill-fated union with Berengaria, Princess of Navarre - of his mother, the She-Wolf, Eleanor of Aquitaine who l ...more
Hardcover, 465 pages
Published (first published 1951)
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Very, very slow paced and doesn't pick up (2.5). By looking at the other reviews, I can see that I am clearly in the minority here - I do not get those five star ratings. The Lute Player is told in several parts, with each part being told in the first person POV of one of the main characters, Blondel the Lute Player, Anna a fictional half sister of Berengaria and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard's mother.

The story begins as Blondel finds his way to the Court of Navarre and home to Berengaria and A
Before I get into the full review, I want to say that although I would recommend The Lute Player, I absolutely would not recommend my edition - the 2008 Torc/Tempus. Anyone with less than 20/20 vision is practically going to need a magnifying glass to read the tiny words crammed onto the page. The pages and the cover are very fragile - it looks terribly dog eared after only two reads, the back cover ripped half off simply by the weight of it open in my hand AND the plastic on the cover melted an ...more
My first Norah Loft's book. I read it too long ago to give it a detailed review but I remember it as well written and enjoyable.
Judy Richey
SUPERB..Told in the voice of the real Eleanor of Aquitaine, a fictional hunchback Duchess who is half sister to Berengaria, (the little known but real wife of Richard the Lionheart), and the mythical Troubador who discovers Richard held for ransom in Germany after the Crusades. This, for me, is ultimate historical fiction.

These characters are alive, and eminently appealing, and Lofts deals with Richard's homosexuality in a touching and delicate way. It is the only written portrait, probably high
Kerry Hennigan
I don’t know why it took me so long to read a book by Norah Lofts. She has long been a celebrated historical novelist, having produced numerous Tudor titles and at least two on the Plantagenets (the period I prefer). Anyway, thanks to my local library, I recently came across a reprint of The Lute Player: A Novel of Richard the Lionhearted.

Now Richard I is famous for a couple of things – fighting in the Third Crusade, and being associated with Robin Hood. The possibly mythical Robin doesn’t make
I greatly enjoyed this story of Richard the Lionhearted, as told through the eyes of Blondel the lute player, Anna the fictional hunchbacked sister of Berengaria of Navarre, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. The story begins with Blondel as a young boy raised in a monestary and promised to the church who finds that the monastic order does not agree with his moral sensibilities. Ultimately (the novel doesn't exactly explain how), Blondel appears in Pamplona, Navarre several years later, playing the lute ...more
Riccarla Roman
Having seen "The Lion in Winter", I knew Richard wouldn't marry Alys, but I always wondered about Berengaria (the one he did marry). Her family history, as told by her half-sister, Anna, was just as interesting as Richard's life. Blondel, the lute player, follows Richard on the Third Crusade (which ties in to the whole Robin Hood/King John story). Norah Lofts beautifully details the behind-the-scenes machinations that went on and surprises you with the betrayals and coincidences that make histor ...more
I'm slightly hesitant to give this book the coveted five-star rating (you may notice that the last time I rated a book five stars was almost a year ago... and also to a book about the Plantagenets), but giving it four wouldn't convey enough just how much I really loved this book and couldn't put it down, even with its flaws.

What are these flaws? Well, it's slightly racist, super ableist, a bit sexist, kinda homophobic (but I'll get to that)... which, if you know me, ELIZABETH WHY DO YOU LIKE THI
This is by far my most favorite book on Richard that exists today, so I give it four stars. Lofts has exceptional story telling skills. She gives emotion and suspense and excitement during battle scenes and the fantastic portion of the book that is the actual crusader part of the story.

However I give it four stars for the heavy and slow start the novel had as well as the slightly boring ending. Anna was an original character and she was interesting for one, but I didn't want to learn about her
This was the fifth book I have read which narrative revolved around Richard the First, The Lionheart. The first was Nicholas Chase’s “Locksley” which was about Atheling of Locksley who assumed different personalities and adventurous roles, concluding with being the legendary Robin Hood. It was a very good inventive book and should have attracted more readers. The second to fourth books were of the Alix of Wanthwaite trilogy, starting with “The Shield of three Lions” by Pamela Kaufman. Although t ...more
This is the second part of a two-novel set about Eleanor of Aquitaine - though either can be read as standalones, it is best enjoyed I believe by reading Queen in Waiting ( aka Eleanor The Queen ) first. I notice in at least one review the character of Eleanor is harshly - even childishly -judged as sour , mean etc. perhaps because of not knowing what had led Eleanor to the place she occupies at the start of this book. It is also described by one reviewer as young adult fiction....????? I'm not ...more
Rowena Sudbury
This was a remarkable book. Split into five sections, it is told from three different points of view. The narrators are Blondel (the lute player), Anna of Apieta (the hunchbacked half-sister of Berengaria, Richard's ill-fated wife), and Eleanor of Acquitaine.

As an author of m/m romances, I was curious to read this book because it promised to highlight the long-held suspicion of Richard's homosexuality. This book was first published in 1951, and so I was curious to see how the topic would be deal
This book is the cross-over of young-adult into historical-fiction. With this in mind, this book seems like a total disaster. Surprisingly, I found this book both intelligent and enjoyable. It held me for days on end. Even with a hectic schedule, I was drawn to this book whenever I had time on my hands.

Set on Medieval times, this book follows several characters' POV and is narrated accordingly: Blondel, the Lute Player, Anna, Duchess of Apieta, and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Dowager Queen of England.
I LOVED this book. I had previously read only one other book by Norah Lofts: How Far to Bethlehem? is one of my all-time favorite books. So I was pleased to find this one at Sam's Club, because I'm not really an adventurous sort when seeking out reading material. (But, I can say that I WILL be looking for more of her novels at the library, and soon!!) This book is a terrific novel which is "about" Richard the Lionhearted. Now, I have read my fair share of novels about the various Tudors, but hav ...more
The remarkable Norah Lofts captured my imagination again--this time with her absorbing tale about 12th century Richard I (the Lionhearted), his love-besotted and ill-treated wife, her sister, and the strolling minstrel whose life intertwined all of theirs. King Richard's zeal to recapture Jerusalem for the world's Christians is a mirror, I think, of today's Muslim jihadists. His effort was one of war and mass slaughter and theirs terror and mass slaughter. As I've immersed myself in historical f ...more
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I was a bit disappointed in this book as I had read such glowing reviews about both it and Norah Lofts. While good and seemingly well researched, it did not have the detail that I enjoy from Sharon Kay Penman or the vivid characterizations and evocation of the period that is characteristic of Elizabeth Chadwick's works. With both Penman and Chadwick you are there in the middle of medieval action and intrigue. The first person narrative and changes in the point of view made it difficult to really ...more
More than just a good book. It was fascinating for me as I was learning the story of Richard and all the intrigue around him as I was reading. A wonderful way to learn history. I found it to be quite a page turner in a few places (mostly because I didn't know historically what was going to happen), and only a few plodding places. Anna was quite compelling. The love triangle that existed in the end (not the one you thought might be there) was an interesting twist. Nora's description of Richard's ...more
The story is told by three narrators: Blondel, the lute player, Anna, half sister to Richard's wife Berengaria, and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Everything is VERY well reseached, and she presents a startlingly true to life picture of poverty, pagentry, plotics, war, cultures, superstiona dn science.

The author's voice rings out a bit loud even as she takes a warts and all approach to the time period and presents some amazingly modern views, even for the time she was writing in. Her characters act
I first read this book in high school. I enjoyed it very much then (something about the kind of tragic love story with a triangle of unrequited affections). And I enjoyed it just as much re-reading it now, some 30 years later. The book is of its time (it was published in 1951 originally), yet the dense style is still interesting, if sometimes coy.

Anna, Duchess of Apieta, is one of the fictional characters who can occupy one's mind for quite a long time. And she is entirely fictional. Sancho VI G
Another novel first read in childhood, still re-read with pleasure every year or so (and I'm 62 now.)
I'm always drawn to tales of unrequited or misplaced love and this is a good one. ALL the main characters are aptly described as figures painted on a vase-- forever pursuing, never attaining the beloved object just ahead. The chapters unfold in the vivid, well-delineated voices of several of the characters. (The intellectual and self-aware Anna, a hunchback, is uniquely intriguing.)
Lots of attent
This is a sad lovers triangle where the Lute Player desperately loves Princess Berengaria and she desperately loves King Richard (the Lion Hearted) and he desperately loves the Lute Player. Wow I had no idea that Richard was gay! This is a historical novel so many portions aren't true but I think this one is, yikes! So I guess everyone looses in the end. I found the book interesting but the in depth accounts of the third crusade was too long for me. I did like how it was broken up into four part ...more
Joy H.
Feb 06, 2015 Joy H. added it
Shelves: read-long-ago
Added 2/6/15.
I read this book a long time ago.
It feels slightly odd to be re-reading a book that was published the year I was born. :-) I read this when I was in high school and my son gave this book to me last year, so I read it again. It's a decent read. I think Norah Lofts did a decent amount of research before she wrote. It feels true to the time. There is no sugar coating on this tale of love gone wrong and the story as presented goes along with much of what I have read about Richard I (The Lion Hearted) of England.
apart from the middle section which was annoying as it was bound with the pages in the wrong order story was good and well written. (Pages 192-225 are mixed up meaning you have to miss a page read a page then go back to the missed one and repeat this through these pages)
written from three different perspectives (Blondin, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Anna of Apieta ) It follows the story of Richard the Lionheart's third Crusade and his marriage to Princess Berengaria of Navarre.
Read this ages ago, in the 80s. It was the first book I consciously chose to stop reading -- I was pretty close to the end, but realized I didn't care for the characters, and didn't care what happened, and wasn't going to waste my time finishing it. I was probably being snobby, but didn't think it portrayed troubadours very accurately - and I love troubadours; read their poetry, sing their songs etc.
This is the second book I have read written by Norah Lofts. I found it slightly cofussing at times as this book is based on a character that appears in the first book I read but things happen a bit differently, and also a couple of the characters themselves are slightly less likable in this book. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed the book and find myself wanting to read more.
Helen Azar
Cleverly told story of Berengaria and Eleanor of Aquitaine, which also involves a fictional character of a young lute player and his role in the former's marriage to Richard the Lionheart. The switching of the first person narrative from Duchess Anna(Berengaria's illegitimate hunchback half sister) to Eleanor was a little confusing at first, but ultimately not an issue.
I was so disappointed in this book. I was hoping for a fun historical fiction and it was totally lacking. I quite frankly got mired in the muck of the crusades and didn't have the heart to finish the book. The author tells you up front that the book will not have a happy ending - I'm fine with a sad ending, but I don't really love knowing that from page one.
Aug 11, 2010 Feliz added it
Shelves: historical, dnf
An intriguing concept: Richard the Lionhearted, my favourite historical personality, and Blondel, his bard, as a pair of lovers.
The perspective of this book shifted constantly, and although there was very much interesting history, it just got too much. The author wanted to wrap up too many ploats and subplots inside this one story; it just didn't work for me.
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Also published using the pseudonyms Juliet Astley and Peter Curtis

Norah Lofts, née Norah Robinson, (27 August 1904–10 September 1983) was a 20th century best-selling British author. She wrote over fifty books specialising in historical fiction, but she also wrote non-fiction and short stories. Many of her novels, including her Suffolk Trilogy, follow the history of a specific house and the residen
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The Concubine Anne Boleyn The King's Pleasure Eleanor the Queen The Town House (House, #1)

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