As a Plantagenent amateur historian, I was keen to read this book. Joan of Kent's true life was fascinating - her father was executed when she was twoAs a Plantagenent amateur historian, I was keen to read this book. Joan of Kent's true life was fascinating - her father was executed when she was two, she secretly married at age 12 and then a year later was forced into marrying the king's best friend's son, and year's later her husband dies leaving her a widow with four children under the age of ten, and she marries the heir to the throne, Edward of Woodstock becoming the first Princess of Wales. That's the makings of a great story! Unfortunately, not this one. The first red flag was within the first 10 pages ... the author suggests a sexual attraction between King Edward III and his 6-year old niece, Joan. Edward III a pedophile? In spite of this sad beginning and giving credit where it is due, Newark's 'theory' on how Joan and Holland met is very plausible although a 22-year-old man seeking a kiss from a 10-year-old girl as thanks for saving her from a fire ... not so much!
One might think that being a descendant of Joan of Kent, Newark might have some empathy for the situation Joan found herself in when she was forced to marry William Montague. But Newark portrays Joan as a gullible, weak willed, wishy-washy, go with whatever man is-in-front-of-her-at-the-moment kind of woman. Not only that, there's not one likeable character in the entire book. King Edward is a sexual predator, Queen Philippa a vindictive harpy, Catherine Montague as evil at Cinderella's stepmother, and Will Montague is a psychopath-in-the-making who spouts dialogue like "There is no finer sport than killing a man" I won't list his other comments here; this was the least sick of the bunch.
I recognize this was 'fiction' but I prefer my historical fiction to stick closer to the known facts. Much of what's here is not supported by Penny Lawne's fabulous biography on Joan, nor many of the books cited in Newark's bibliography. I've read most of them and more ... Joan's life was incredible. I'm sorry to say, this book doesn't do it justice.
As the author wrote ... the lives of Edward II and Isabella of France were fascinating and vivid enough without the tawdry melodramatic tales inventedAs the author wrote ... the lives of Edward II and Isabella of France were fascinating and vivid enough without the tawdry melodramatic tales invented and embroidered in later times ... she was not wrong. Prior to reading this biography, I had read many novels and history accounts of the times. I had heard the 'stories' about the 'she-wolf' of France and peccadillos of Edward II. I thought "Hollywood couldn't write a better movie manuscript" but I was compelled to discover the truth of what really happened between them. Kudos to Kathryn Warner for a super job of primary source research and debunking secondary source interpretations and assumptions. Her talent for family trees and who's who is mindboggling - and much appreciated. To understand the players, one needs to know who was connected/related to whom. My only criticism might be in the chronological jumping-around style of writing, a trait of many historians IMHO although Ms. Warner doesn't jump too far thus backtracking is somewhat minimized. I absolutely loved all the family tree information although for many readers this may be somewhat intimidating. I would recommend this biography and that of Elizabeth de Clare by Frances Underhill for those serious about this period in history. ...more
I love Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ... and I enjoyed this book more than the last one which I found too formulaic. This book's story was pretty stI love Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ... and I enjoyed this book more than the last one which I found too formulaic. This book's story was pretty straightforward ... it was time for Uhtred to take back Bebbanburg which he sets out to do from page one now that Northumbria is ruled by a friend, his daughter's husband, Sigtrygger. However, several foes thwart his plans: Einar the Dane who his cousin is paying to reinforce his troops and provide supplies, Constantin, the Scot who covets this portion of Northumbria, and Aethelhelm, a Saxon lord who schemes to precipitate a war between Northumbria and Wessex even though a truce is in effect. As in many books in this series, Uhtred's uncanny ability to outsmart his nemeses is what makes these books so much fun to read. But in this one, he almost blows it ... which makes readers root for him all the more. After so many years of wanting to take back his family's lands, Uhtred's strategic intelligence is put to the test in devising a way to accomplish that when everyone knows how impregnable Bebbanburg is.
A few notes/questions: even though Father Judas' story was left hanging in the last book, he does not make any sort of appearance or even rate a mention in this sequel. And what about Eadith? Suddenly, she's Uhtred's wife, not just a lover. When & why did that happen? Another interesting note, while Uhtred's 2nd son, Uhtred, plays a role, he is never referred to by name, only mentioned as 'my son' throughout the book. And something that perturbs me about Cornwell's writing is that characters a reader may believe important to Uhtred are downplayed. For example, Athelflaed. He watched her grow from a girl to a woman, pledged his oath to support her, and became her lover yet Cornwell's treatment of that relationship is quite offhanded. One might think them becoming lovers might be a 'big moment' but it wasn't treated that way at all when it happened. In this book, Uhtred's relationship with Aethelflaed is treated just as casually, yet their parting might seem to warrant something more. I find that oddly disconcerting - do others? ...more
In reading several history books that included this battle, it seemed there wasn't much agreement about many aspects of it. Therefore, I sought out aIn reading several history books that included this battle, it seemed there wasn't much agreement about many aspects of it. Therefore, I sought out a book that just focused on this one battle and discovered this one. I was surprised by its brevity and that it didn't contain any sort of forward about the author, citing his credentials as I think that would have been appropriate. Nor were there any footnotes or sources listed. Hmmmm..... That aside, while it provided much more of the detail I wanted regarding English participants, their background and how the battle progressed, not all the discrepancies were clarified. His information on which English commanders had command of which ships differs from other sources. And another example, all the other sources stated that Edward III sailed from the port of Orwell on the Stour Estuary. Corrigan states he sailed from Walton on the Naze ... from what I've pieced together, the entire area was a gathering site for the English fleet so it may be a moot point. But without any sources cited it makes me question where his information came from and how his interpretation might vary from other experts. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book introduces Uhtred "the family man". Hard to believe he has fatherly feelings, warm ones at least, for any of his children.**spoiler alert** This book introduces Uhtred "the family man". Hard to believe he has fatherly feelings, warm ones at least, for any of his children. Those feelings have not played much part in his character previously in the series. Will he avenge the horrific crime against Father 'Judas'? Will he forsake Ethelflaed and cross the Irish Sea to rescue Stiorra? The conflict is set up with Cornwell's usual aplomb especially with his old lover, Brida, as a primary nemesis. But he's written her like she's an old crone, which my willing suspension of disbelief just wouldn't believe. Older, yes. Bitter, yes. Crone-like, not a chance. Uhtred cleverly steals out of Chester against Ethelflaed's orders and sails to Ireland. Outsmart foe #1. Check. Sail back to Northumbria and capture Yorvik, outsmart foe #2. Check. Now Uhtred and his outnumbered forces must face the greatest foe of all (who has done nothing in this book but pound his chest) but are Ethelfaed's forces coming to his rescue? March. Hope. March. Hope. March. (yawn) She's not coming this time, oh no! Whatever will he do? Uhtred son #2 to the rescue. Not enough? Finan to the rescue? Closer. Drum roll .... the non-battle. It's all too easy and too formulaic and falls flat. I have LOVED all the prior books in this series. This one ... the first half hooked me but the second half was a big snooze. Cornwell does set up the next book though ... Uhtred finally has an ally in Northumbria with enough men to help him take on Bebbanburgh. (Maybe Corwell's published pushed a little too hard on the deadline for this book - it's not up to his usual standard IMO....more
Only 83 pages but makes my 5 star list! More insightful help in writing fiction than any other book I've read thus far. Taking copious notes, it onlyOnly 83 pages but makes my 5 star list! More insightful help in writing fiction than any other book I've read thus far. Taking copious notes, it only took 4 hours to read - go for it if you have an interest in becoming a writer!...more
This is a well-written historical survey of the evolution of tournaments in England from the 1100s to the 1400s. Lots of document sources and one getsThis is a well-written historical survey of the evolution of tournaments in England from the 1100s to the 1400s. Lots of document sources and one gets a sense of how the games evolved but not much in the way of what actually occurred at the games. According to the author, there's not much from the chronicles of the period that explains what happened at the games. That was disappointing for me. The last chapter focuses on equipment which had it been included earlier on might have made the book more fun to read.
It was interesting to learn more about why tournaments were often prohibited by monarchs and for those monarchs who sanctioned them, how they used them for their own political purposes.
For students of the period or amateur historians, a good reference source. ...more