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Devil's Brood (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine #3)

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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  4,561 ratings  ·  291 reviews
A.D. 1172. Henry II’s three eldest sons conspire against him and align themselves with his greatest enemy, King Louis of France, but it’s Eleanor of Aquitaine’s involvement in the plot to overthrow her husband that proves to be the harshest betrayal. As a royal family collapses and a marriage ends in all but name, the clash between these two strong-willed and passionate so ...more
Paperback, 730 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published October 7th 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Karla
Feb 08, 2012 Karla rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history geeks who wouldn't be caught dead reading about elves & goblins
There's probably a connection between why I read 3 Sharon Kay Penman books with such ease back in the early to mid 2000s and yet couldn't finish one in 2012. At the same time (ye olde 2000s) I was going through a high fantasy phase and huge doorstoppers with a cast of thousands riding around to villages and other countries talking about quests and prophecies, surrounded by a zillion details, fit in quite well with Penman's style of having a cast of thousands riding around to taverns and castles ...more
Anna
Rating 3.5 stars

I read historical fiction for two reasons: to learn and to be entertained.

There’s no doubt that Penman’s research is impeccable. As a new reader to this era, I now feel I know the story of Henry II, his sons, their rebellions and their contemporaries very well. The information given is interesting and thorough - I couldn’t have asked for a fuller, more complete picture.

The entertainment side was less successful for me. In her quest to tell the whole story, Penman felt she had to
...more
Jemidar

There is one thing you can't fault Penman for and that's her research. It's thorough, copious and usually factual, almost OCD in places. But what I do fault her for is her need to include every single word of it in her novels. This one was so bloated by research that it floated belly up--slowing the narrative, distancing characters from the reader and was downright tedious & distracting in places. And as fascinating as most of the information was (although I could well have lived without kno
...more
Iset
Aug 18, 2011 Iset rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Absolutely everyone
Devil’s Brood is an absolute rollercoaster of a novel. Now in my mind, there are two types of "rollercoaster novels". One kind swings wildly from one extreme of emotion to another, melodramatically creating mountains out of molehills, its plot twists coming out of nowhere, the kind of rollercoaster that leaves you feeling queasy and desperately wanting to get off. The other kind of rollercoaster novel sweeps you up and off you go, the highs and lows built up ahead of time, creating anticipation, ...more
Misfit
Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine thought they had it all - the greatest empire since Charlemagne, healthy children including the heir and several to spare - so how did it all go so wrong? The Devil's Brood takes up the story where Time and Chance left off with the murder of Thomas Becket, as Henry returns from his self imposed exile to Ireland. Henry's three eldest sons are chafing at the bit to have lands and power of their own and egged on by Louis of France they join with their mo ...more
Ellen Ekstrom
I'm seeing Richard I of England in whole new light and it's as dim as a gutting candle . . . but I digress. Richard is a product of his time and that time was dark and disturbing.

Ms. Penman once again makes medieval life and history as palpable as what we see on the news today, the persons as real, whole and flawed as ourselves - separated by a thousand years. "Devil's Brood" concludes the story of Henry II of England and his queen Eleanor Duchess of Aquitaine and concentrates on the ill-fated r
...more
Laura
Nov 03, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: HF fans
Recommended to Laura by: Misfit
Another wonderful book by SKP, where the struggle for the power between Richards sons prevails over most of his kingdom. The strong character of Eleanor shows already her fight for women rights on state decisions even in a medieval era. The dialogues between the main characters are very well written within an historical context based on a very careful historical research performed by SKP. ...more
Cheryl
Wow - - Penman has done it again. She manages to take a remote time in history and absolutely make it come alive, along with the major characters. Absolutely one of the best historical fiction writers around, this book is well-researched and such an easy read!
Julie
I had all three books of Sharon Kay Penman's series on the dynasty that resulted in Richard the Lionheart and during my first read several years ago, I had to wait between books until the next one was published. It was great to read all three in a row. I feel like I know them all so well. The investment of time paid off! I love how the focus shifts to the new generation without making you feel like you've left the old generation behind. For example, the fictional character of Ranulf was one of m ...more
~Leslie~
Wow - this is the third installment in the series about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Devil's Brood is the tumultuous story of Henry and Eleanor's sons and the struggle over ruling such a sprawling and diverse kingdom. This is a truly epic, and amazing story - so many characters, battles, political intrigues, family feuds, marriages are going on throughout the story. I loved every minute of. I found myself crying over events that occurred over 900 years ago. Sharon Kay Penman has the abilit ...more
Laura
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Of course I loved it- it's Sharon Kay Penman,but this is SKP on the top of her game. Opening this book was like falling into the 12th century & becoming completely immersed in it.I'm starting "Lionheart" right away so that I can prolong the experience & my own enjoyment of her fabulous books!! I can't wait for "A King's Ransom to come out, & I hope she continues the series with another book about John after that. Bravo, Sharon... this really is one of the best bo ...more
Betty
I always like an historical novel, and Penman's attention to detail and development of character are superb. I have a fascination for Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and this novel fleshes out the motivation for their behaviour as well as giving the reader an overall picture of life in the 12th Century. The story of the family discord, the ambition and Henry's desire to retain power remind me of a current mining magnate and her children!
Marilyn
Devil's Brood picks up where Time and Chance leaves off, in the story that is beyond any prime time reality television show. In my opinion, this book is Penman at her best, because she has to relate to the reader all the complexities of a family unraveling. If Henry II thought Becket was a thorn in his side, he soon would learn that the thorns that pain to the bone are sometimes placed upon us by those whom we love the most. And so the story goes for Henry Angevin, as not only his sons turn agai ...more
Carey
In 1172 Henry II has been on the throne, ruling his vast kingdom that stretches from England to the Mediterranean, for eighteen years. His passionate marriage to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine is as volatile as ever and their sons are nearing adulthood.

As Henry works to extricate himself from his problems with the Church that were created by the murder of Thomas Becket, his oldest son Hal has plans of his own. Hal has been crowned king while his father still rules and he is chafing under his father'
...more
Ernestina
My prevailing feeling while reading this book was helplessness, I often felt like shaking one character or the other to make them see reason. It was such a heap of incomprehensions and unforgiving pride, love badly shown and bitter betrayals.
However, you can touch the love the author feels for her protagonists, always finding at least an act to redeem them, even only on their deathbed.

Eleanor talking to her dead husband best summarises all the struggle: "Ah, Harry, we were so well matched, you a
...more
Heidi
SKP is really one of my favorite authors, but after reading Here Be Dragons, everything else falls short (When Christ and His Saints Slept is a close second). I have always appreciated her historical accuracy, but I felt like she tried to cover too much history in too few pages with this book. There were times when I found myself skimming pages to get to the plot. She took her time with Christ & His Saints and the plot was more compelling, despite being much longer. There were times when I f ...more
Tapley
I suspect that if I had the time I might really enjoy this trilogy. However, my criticism of this book is that, despite the dialogue, it still feels a lot like non-fiction. The issues and characters are still too large; I am not drawn into an engaging personal story about characters who feel like real people, so much as seeing grand historical events acted out. The trick, I think, for really top notch historical fiction is to draw the reader into an engrossing personal story that then plays out ...more
Dangermousie
I have enjoyed every SKP book I've read, but after her heartbreaking Welsh Trilogy, I've ceased being emotionally compelled by them. I would read, enjoy the characters and the writing, but would remain emotionally aloof.

Well, not any more.

I've found myself emotionally devastated by this book, drawn in and helplessly reading about all these complicated, dysfunctional, ocassionally brilliant people destroying themselves and each other - wanting to jump into the book and somehow stop it. I haven't
...more
Michele
Devil's Brood is the long-awaited latest installment of Sharon Kay Penman's brilliant Eleanor of Aquitaine series. Preceeded by When Christ and His Saints Slept and Time and Chance, Devil's Brood seamlessly picks up the story of King Henry II and his dysfunctional family just as his eldest children reach adulthood and begin wreaking havoc in Henry's world.

Where Saints and Time and Chance were a recounting of the convoluted politics of the time and the circumstances that led to Henry's grabbing o
...more
Robin
May 12, 2011 Robin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of Historical Fiction
I have had this book on my shelf for ages. I am such a huge fan!! I just had so many library books to read. So, anyway, I have finally started it. It's like opening a really fabulous bar of chocolate that you have been saving for a rainy day, crisis, divorce, etc. ...

12 May 2011

I have just finished this outstanding book! Now that there is no more left read, I have very reluctantly allowed my consciousness to leave the world of Henry and Eleanor. This was made easier with the knowledge that Richa
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Therese
Apr 15, 2014 Therese rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves medieval English history
Recommended to Therese by: Marilyn
$11.04

At the ending of the book, the author acknowledges the 1969 movie "The Lion in Winter" starring Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole as Eleanor and Henry, and I was very pleased with this because throughout the book whenever Eleanor was speaking, especially with Henry, I could hear Katherine's rich voice and throaty laughter. It was a shame that movie didn't cover more ground, but there were things in that movie that did not ring true to the author and have been omitted from this book altho
...more
Jay
I used this as my "work book," the book I keep on my desk and read a few pages of while I eat lunch at my keyboard. That, and its 600+ page length, are why it took me several months to get through it, but I like it that way because immersing myself in Penman's world of medieval France and England is one joy I want to prolong as much as possible. This is the third volume in the set that began with When Christ and His Saints Slept and continued with Time and Chance. It deals with the very stormy m ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘It is enough that we answer for our own sins without being held to account for the sins of others..’

The third novel of Ms Penman’s trilogy about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, this book picks up the story some months after the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1171. The novel deals with the consequences of a family at war within itself and the impacts both on the individuals involved and on the political landscape of Europe and beyond. Henry Fitz Empress ruled England as He
...more
Don Maker
Sharon Kay Penman starts with about 50 pages of narrative, strictly history. When she finally starts writing "dialogue", the main purpose of it throughout the book is to give more history. Most of the scenes in a very long book are static, with only a very few "action" scenes, mostly people standing or sitting around talking -- about history. I nearly put the book down a dozen times because I had been promised a novel, and this was a thinly disguised history book.

I read it because I love history
...more
Joey
I read this book in just over a week, because I had a hard time putting it down. I really enjoyed the first two novels in the Plantagenet series, but this one was even better for me, as I found myself connected to several of the characters... Even when they were on completely opposite sides.

This book is a continuation of Henry II's reign, inclusive of a number of dramatic episodes he experienced with his wife and basically all of his legitimate sons... I found myself early on championing Henry a
...more
Joe
I came across this author through her medieval mysteries which led me to her historical novels – all of which I’ve enjoyed. With exhaustive research Penman has a knack for vividly bringing these distant past times and historical figures to life. All this without miring down the reader in excessive detail, her novels provide a front row seat to royal traditions, banquets, marriages, power-plays and battles; the characters very human and well developed. And though the books are lengthy in pages th ...more
Heather
This book lacked the flow and excitement of the previous book in the series. I felt like it could've been edited quite a bit, and there seemed to be a lot of extra characters there that didn't add much. It doesn't fail to bring the period to life, though, and for that I give it three stars.
Dee
So I just finished reading the third book of the 5-volume series from Sharon Kay Penman on the Plantagenets. This was especially fascinating because I was previously unaware that Richard aka LionHeart had two other brothers (besides the infamous John), named Hal and Geoffrey--and I was 89% in before I fully understood why I hadn't heard of them.

I have now read so many of her books, I can see where Penman relies on her copious research, where she invents new characters, and why she does so. While
...more
MBP
Just amazing - no one can write historical fiction like SKP. She takes the historical facts and brings to life the personalities, the emotions, the sights and sounds and smells that you imagine must have been there in the first place. Can't wait for Lionheart!
Jamie
Fascinating, tragic story from one of my favorite writers of historical fiction.

I can't decide if it's a flaw or a strength in SKP's novels, that she offers a sympathetic portrayal of every single character. You can't pick a side to root for.
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Penman received her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin, she majored in history, and also received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Rutgers University School of Law, and later worked as a tax lawyer. Penman suffered from an eighteen month bout with mononucleosis.

The Sunne in Splendour, a novel about Richard III of England is one of the most popular books on the Historical Nov
...more
More about Sharon Kay Penman...

Other Books in the Series

Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine (3 books)
  • When Christ and His Saints Slept  (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1)
  • Time and Chance (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #2)
Here be Dragons (Welsh Princes, #1) The Sunne in Splendour When Christ and His Saints Slept  (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1) Falls the Shadow  (Welsh Princes, #2) The Reckoning  (Welsh Princes, #3)

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“He could still remember how breathtakingly beautiful Eleanor was that day. He'd have been content to gaze into her eyes for hours, trying to decide if they were green with gold flecks or gold with green flecks. She had high, finely sculpted cheekbones, soft, flawless skin he'd burned to touch, and lustrous dark braids entwined with gold-threaded ribbons he yearned to unfasten; he'd have bartered his chances of salvation to bury his face in that glossy, perfumed hair, to wind it around his throat and see it spread out on his pillow. He'd watched, mesmerized, as a crystal raindrop trickled toward the sultry curve of her mouth and wanted nothing in his life so much, before or since, as he wanted her. ” 11 likes
“The great hall was shimmering in light, sun streaming from the open windows, and ablaze with colour, the walls decorated with embroidered hangings in rich shades of gold and crimson. New rushes had been strewn about, fragrant with lavender, sweet woodruff, and balm... the air was... perfumed with honeysuckle and violet, their seductive scents luring in from the gardens butterflies as blue as the summer sky.” 10 likes
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