**spoiler alert** I confess, I knew little to nothing of medieval Bohemia. On a map, I could have pointed you to the general location of it's whereabo**spoiler alert** I confess, I knew little to nothing of medieval Bohemia. On a map, I could have pointed you to the general location of it's whereabouts, but that's about it. Not only does Chelsea Quinn Yarbro provide us with an interesting story of our beloved Count, she also presents her readers an historical travel log.
In the novel, "An Embarrassment of Riches", King Bela of Hungry, holds the fiefdom of Saint-Germain hostage in order to guaranty that Rakoczy Ferancsi does not make alliances with his enemies. Under orders, the Count is exiled to the Court of Kunigunde of Bohemia, King Bela's granddaughter. Using his skills as a alchemist, he has been instructed to provide jewels to the Queen and her family for their enjoyment. Though his cell is the beautiful Palace Court, it is no home; Saint-German remains very much an outsider and a political prisoner.
In 1269, Bohemia is a wealthy country due to it's natural resources of precious metals. As in most cases when a medieval King finds his coffers full, he looks to build a large military. Konig Otaker is no different and soon his impressive army is on the march; depleting the Palace Court of eligible and entertaining men to distract the ladies of the Queen's household. With looks, manners and wealth, the Count soon has their attention.
In one of her interviews, CQ Yarbro, tells us that the story of Saint-German is not just centered on him, but is also a story about the women in his life. In this novel, our Count's cup runneth over and that attention he attracts comes with great personal peril. There are four women in this story that have a strong impact on his life; three Court ladies that seek a sexual liaison and the Queen herself (who's personal story I find compelling). It would be easy to judge these women, by today's standards, as frivolous, shallow and self-indulgent. And that is true to some extent, but their personality and life were shaped by the upper-class, gilded cage constructed by culture and church. The only one with any real power was the Queen, but even she had to bow to others (the men in her family and church ) in making the important decisions and even deciding her own future. It took a great deal of courage for her to stand up to the Bishop in defending her ladies from examination from the church.
Of the three court ladies Rozsa of Borsod, I find the least sympathetic. She took personal delight in controlling Saint-Germain through the threat of blackmail, first for sexual pleasure and later for financial gain. The Count summed it up well on page 111, "He was aware of her arousal, and her satisfaction, but he knew beyond all question that she did not want to include him in her fulfillment." I did find myself questioning why Saint-Germain continued to take her blood after the first encounter when he found the taste "flat, and he knew it would provide little nourishment, for there had been no real intimacy." As the story unfolds, it finds him worried that their contact would soon reach that magical number of six, when she could become a vampire upon her death. On page 128, he speaks to Hruther (Roger) about his concerns, "..., I have no wish to bring a woman like Roszsa of Borsod into my life, but if she insists ….."
Imbolya of Hevees, the second lady to seek out the attentions of Saint-Germain, starts as did Rozsa, by using threats in order to force him to become her lover. Yet, she later backs off and merely treats the relationship as a rebellious adventure (before her family arranges a loveless marriage where she fears she will disappear). The Count is trouble by his attraction for Imbolya and tends to make excuses for her behavior, blaming it on youth. Personally, I believe he was too kind because both she and Rozsa admit that the worst that could happen to them, if discovered, is their being forced into a nunnery. But death would be a certainty for, Saint-Germain. Her lack of concern for the Count's well being was alarming. On page 182, Imbolya tells Saint-Germain, "See?" she persisted. "that's why I want you. You think of me before you think of yourself ."
The last of the three ladies is Iliska of Szousa. I'm not sure of her age, but guess around fifteen because her family were looking for a suitable husband for her. In many ways she reminds me of Jenfra, as a child, in the book "Blood Rose". Iliska is strong willed to the point of being obnoxious and no amount of discouragement from Saint-Germain seems to stop her from a head long pursuit of him. Her brother takes matters into his own hands and hires assassins to kill the Count. Fortunately, drowning a non-breathing vampire is not easy.
In this story I found the Count to be more affable then in recent memory. It warmed me to read of his insecurities about what to wear and how to entertain a female visitor. After three thousand years of being undead he still has much of the same vulnerabilities as we do. It makes him more human and I like that in an all-but-immortal hero.
Best quote: Roger, " You've been dangerous to know for the twelve hundred years I have know you." page 128
And of course: Rakoczy, "I do not drink wine". Page 50
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author knows his history, so along with a good plot and character development, the reader gets an interesting glimI thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author knows his history, so along with a good plot and character development, the reader gets an interesting glimpse into the life and culture of the English during Henry VIII.
I didn't give it a five star because I figured out before the ending just who the murder was, even so ... there was enough twists and turns that it kept my interest to the end.
**spoiler alert** I love this series and was sad to see it end. I was thrilled when the author decided to add a prequel, letting the reader learn more**spoiler alert** I love this series and was sad to see it end. I was thrilled when the author decided to add a prequel, letting the reader learn more about the history and background of Sir John de Wolfe. This book does indeed fill in the blanks and answers a number of questions on how he ended up being the King's Coroner.
The one drawback for me was the first half of the story, which describes the return journey from the Holy Land in the company of Richard the Lionheart, King of England. I found this part of the book confusing at times. It might have helped if the author had included a map, because countries, boarders and names have changed since 1192. I did end up looking up several maps on google, which helped a great deal. King Richard, in order to escape his enemies (which included most of the major kings of Europe), took a very indirect route to get home. This dodging about failed, and he was still captured.
The book is well written and I enjoyed revisiting some of my favorite characters, which have been sadly missed. ...more
I enjoy this series, but this isn't my favorite book. The combination of three different languages, English, Scot and Gaelic makes for an interestingI enjoy this series, but this isn't my favorite book. The combination of three different languages, English, Scot and Gaelic makes for an interesting read, but it can be a bit confusing. Luckily, the author translates the Gaelic, but refers the reader to a Scot language online dictionary to help with the rest. I found the dictionary too cumbersome to use and Scot isn't that hard to pick up when mixed in with English. So really, the language isn't my main complaint, I just found the plot too slow and the cast of characters too many to keep straight.
But still .... I'll read the next in the series when it comes available. :)
One last note here ... the author blew it. Ipecac, made from the root of the Ipecacuanha plant, is native to Brazil and wasn't introduced in to Europe until the mid 1600 or so. The date of the story is during the reign of James III of Scotland, which is two hundred years earlier. ...more
This is a great little resource book on medieval culinary, etiquette and dinning history. There are a few recipes thrown in too. It's short, but packeThis is a great little resource book on medieval culinary, etiquette and dinning history. There are a few recipes thrown in too. It's short, but packed full of some very interesting information. Oh ... it's a Kindle freebie, which makes it even better.
6 C red wine 10 C apple cider 1/2 C brown sugar 2 tsp. whole cloves 2 tsp. whole Allspice 2 (3") sticks of cinnamon 3 oranges (studded with cloves)
In a large pot, mix the wine, cider, sugar, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Heat to boiling, and reduce the temperature setting to low. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain the punch into a punch bowl, and float the oranges studded with cloves on top.
O'Toole, Shenanchie; Food Fare (2011-07-11). Medieval Cuisine (Food Fare Culinary Collection) (Kindle Locations 551-556). Food Fare Cookbooks. Kindle Edition. ...more
What can I say ... I love this series. The author doesn't romanticize this time period, it's smelly, violent and unless you are wealthy, living conditWhat can I say ... I love this series. The author doesn't romanticize this time period, it's smelly, violent and unless you are wealthy, living conditions are just plain nasty. Your knight in shining armor usually comes with fleas, head lice and probably hasn't fully bathed in a couple of years. Against this realistic background, Bernard Knight has developed not only great characters, but good storylines. Some books were better then others, but I found each was written well enough to pull me in and keep me reading long past time for bed.
It appears that this is the last book in the series and I'm sad to see it end. ...more
**spoiler alert** If I could I would have given this novel 2 1/2 stars. I enjoyed the first two books in this series and eagerly waited for the next,**spoiler alert** If I could I would have given this novel 2 1/2 stars. I enjoyed the first two books in this series and eagerly waited for the next, unfortunately, I felt it just didn't meet Mel Starr's usual high standards of story telling.
The book starts out with Hugh de Singleton, taking a trip to Oxford, with the intention of courting the lovely Kate Caxton, the stationer's daughter, which he accomplishes in about two pages. In the mean time, he has agreed to help an old friend find his twenty-two books that have been stolen. Hugh's detecting skills are hit and miss, and it appears he relies a good deal on just plain good luck and influential friends. There's nothing wrong with that, but after a while it becomes predictable and rather dull. Maybe I'm being too critical, if I am, it's because I enjoyed the first two books and had great expectations for this one.
I'm not sure when the fourth book in the series will be coming out, it's titled "Unhallowed Ground", but I have my fingers crossed and plan to place it on my "to-read" list when it's available.
**spoiler alert** For the first 75 pages I seriously considered throwing this book out the window because I'd become so frustrated trying to reading i**spoiler alert** For the first 75 pages I seriously considered throwing this book out the window because I'd become so frustrated trying to reading it. For those who don't know me personally .... I live on a house boat. The problem with the book wasn't the story, but the fact the first 75 pages were all out of order. The page numbers would read 35,36,55,54,56,55,blank,32,33 .... and so on. After page 75, the pages fell into regular order and I started to enjoy the novel. It has the usual cast of characters, intrepid heroine, a handsome and mysterious hero, dysfunctional family with a few skeletons in their closets, mad monks and a few people who may or may not be possessed by demons. Oh ... and Abelard and Heloise play a small role in this story.
I may sound a bit flippant in the above description and I really shouldn't be, this is my first Sharon Newman novel and I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely her writing skills are. She did a remarkable job at describing twelfth century France and keeping her characters true to that period of time. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the Catherone LeVendeur series. ...more
I love this series ... I really do. One book a year isn't enough, but I confess, this last one probably was my least favorite. I kept setting it asideI love this series ... I really do. One book a year isn't enough, but I confess, this last one probably was my least favorite. I kept setting it aside and moving on to other interests. I think my biggest complaint, at least for me anyway, was that there were just too many characters in the story. I had wished that there had been fewer and the ones left were better developed. At times I found it confusing just trying to keep everyone straight.
Each book in the series can be read alone, but it does help to have read the earlier ones. The author left a couple of unanswered questions concerning Gil Cunningham's wife, Alys and her relationship with her new mother-in-law, but no doubt this will be carried on in book number ten ... which of course I will eagerly look forward to. :)...more
There are few books that I would give a 5 star rating to and this novel falls into that category. It was beautifully and hauntingly written. It's beenThere are few books that I would give a 5 star rating to and this novel falls into that category. It was beautifully and hauntingly written. It's been two weeks now since I've finish this novel and I find I still revisit this story in my quiet moments.
I'm looking forward to reading more from this author in the near future. ...more
There were times I found the plot a little hard to follow, but the author's wit was so entertaining and such fun that I'm eagerly waiting for his nextThere were times I found the plot a little hard to follow, but the author's wit was so entertaining and such fun that I'm eagerly waiting for his next book. ...more