Amanda's Reviews > The Queen's Pawn

The Queen's Pawn by Christy English
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's review
Aug 04, 2011

really liked it

The Queen's Pawn paints a fascinating portrait of two little known historical figures and their amazing bond. The story follows the fascinating life of the young French Princess Alais who, at the young age of nine, was sent to live in the English court of Henry II until she was old enough to marry Henry's son Richard. At court, Alais meets Eleanor of Aquitaine, a powerful queen well-versed in playing court intrigue and power games, as well as winning them. Eleanor not only finds a wonderful new pawn for her political chessboard in Alais, but also a loving young girl who becomes as close as a daughter. Alais falls into life at court, and happily into a relationship with her adoptive mother. However, as Alais realizes her place in Eleanor's game, she makes a move to become more than a pawn, even though it would make her a rival to Eleanor herself.

At first blush, The Queen's Pawn was hard to enjoy. The first third of the novel is painfully slow and difficult to read due to a lack of dialog and quick passage of time with little detail. Perhaps English should have considered editing some of this seemingly needless exposition out and focused on what was needed to follow through at the end of the novel. The second third is much better as the story moves forward and Eleanor plays her fascinating political games with Alais, plus the reader gets a chance to get to know Eleanor and Alais and understand their bond.

The final third of the book is where things really take off. Alais becomes Eleanor's rival at court and the games really pick up, as does the romance. This is the part where I couldn't put the book down. Not only were the political games engrossing, but the real heart of the novel shone through: the unbreakable bond between Eleanor and Alais.

A wonderful historical novel that paints a compelling portrait of two little-known historical women and their rarely-explored relationship, The Queen's Pawn is a satisfying and enjoyable read -at least, f you can get through the first third of the novel.
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