The Shadow King (Astraea, #2)
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The Shadow King (Astraea #2)

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  40 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In The Shadow King, Jane Stevenson illuminates the world of the intriguing Balthasar Stuart, the secret biracial child born of the illicit love between a queen of Bohemia and an exiled African prince. A gifted young doctor in the late seventeenth century, Balthasar struggles with very contemporary issues of identity, brought into play by his difficult heritage. Driven out...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 23rd 2004 by Mariner Books (first published January 2002)
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You have to work a little at reading Jane Stevenson's historical fiction. She's an academic who teaches literature and history at a university in Britain. Her writing is erudite and her characters complex and learned. You certainly won't get anyone "bellowing like a longshoreman" like another book set in the same period I read recently (though it may have just been poorly translated). But I don't mean to make her sound pedantic. There is an emotional core to the stories she tells in these books...more
This is the sequel to The Winter Queen and is about Balthasar, the son of Elizabeth of Bohemia and Pelagius. It follows Balthasar's progress through young adulthood up to middle age as he attempts to find his place in the world of the late 17th century. Despite his noble blood and the mystical dreams his parents had for him, Balthasar ends up a successful doctor in London (after a brief sojourn in Barbados), contentedly living a very sober and respectable middle class lifestyle. Stevenson does a...more
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The second in a trilogy. This one focused less on the cultural clash issues at the heart of the first volume, & more on issues of race & class (& to a lesser extent the third element in that holy trinity of contemporary academic life, gender). It was also focused on the main character's efforts to reconcile the scientific practice of medicine he learns at Leiden, the leading medical school of the 17th century, & what he remembers learning from his father about African medicine.
The sequel to The Winter Queen tells the story of the son of an African prince, formerly enslaved, who marries a European Queen in the 1600s. One of the asides is the protagonist's is the encounter with real life writer Aphra Behn whom I knew little of except for her book Oroonoko written in 1688. When you finish this novel, reach for the final in the serious, The Empress of Last Days which takes you into modern times.
Interesting but unsatisfying. The main character's past is never explained, and it's difficult to get too involved with any of the characters.

A little research revealed that this is the second book in a trilogy, and the first book explains the past.
I hate this book. It's boring and pointless. Maybe it wouldn't be so painful if I had read the first one. The story just doesn't go anywhere. Not going to bother finishing.
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Dr. Jane Stevenson (born 1959) is a UK author who was born in London and brought up in London, Beijing and Bonn. She has lectured in history at Sheffield University, and teaches literature and history at the University of Aberdeen. Her fiction books include Several Deceptions, a collection of four novellas; a novel, London Bridges; and the historical trilogy made up of the novels The Winter Queen,...more
More about Jane Stevenson...
The Winter Queen (Astraea, #1) London Bridges Good Women: Three Novellas The Empress of the Last Days (Astraea, #3) Several Deceptions

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