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Shadow on the Crown

(The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  4,877 ratings  ·  710 reviews
A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen In 1002, fifteen--year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching ri ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 7th 2013 by Viking
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  4,877 ratings  ·  710 reviews

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Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medieval
Shadow on the Crown is the first in a trilogy based on the life of Emma of Normandy. I'm feeling lazy today and other reviewers here have recapped everything nicely, so I'll pass on another rehash.

I thought this was a solid effort from a first time writer, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. Having read Helen Hollick's The Forever Queen (also published as A Hollow Crown), I was already familiar with the basics of Emma's life, but since there are so many gaps in the historical rec
Sadly, most people (even Anglophiles) are less versed with the Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods of English rule. Some may have heard of Emma of Normandy but only because she is the mother of Edward the Confessor. Patricia Bracewell attempts to remedy Emma’s silence in “Shadow on the Crown”.

“Shadow on the Crown” begins in a slightly overwhelming manner, as a surplus of characters are introduced within alternating chapters/viewpoints making it somewhat difficult to immediately feel a connection or g
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it

On Christmas morning, 1001AD King Aethelred of England's wife dies giving birth to their twelfth child. As king, he must find a second wife. Seeing an opportunity to strengthen his borders and make an alliance with Normandy, he agrees to a marriage with Emma, the sixteen year-old sister to the Duke of Normandy.

Thirty-five year-old Aethelred is cruel, unpredictable and haunted. He treats Emma as little more than his broodmare, and fails to see the intelligent and clever woman she is, and the asse
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, signed
Where I got the book: purchased at a conference. Signed. I know Pat Bracewell from the conference circuit and Facebook.

This was my one buy at the 2013 Historical Novel Society conference because I'd read good things about it on Goodreads. I wasn't disappointed. I don't generally like "kings and queens" historical fiction, but I enjoyed this account of Emma of Normandy's marriage to the king known in modern times as Ethelred the Unready. Possibly because OH THANK HEAVEN it was written in third pe
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm going to have to start this review with the publisher's summary, simply because it's a really good one and does the job so much better than I would be able to:

England, A.D. 1002

In a world lit by fire and ruled by the sword, a fifteen-year-old girl kneels to receive an English crown – an act that will echo down the ages.

Within that circlet of gold the ambitions of four powerful men are about to collide, for this young queen is the key to all that they desire.

To a calculating Norman duke she
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
As I sit down to write this review, I find myself conflicted. Part of this book was very interesting to me and I enjoyed it. But there were things that I just didn’t like and couldn’t look past which affected my overall enjoyment of the book. I can’t call myself an expert on historical fiction but I have read my fair share and enjoyed quite a good number of them. I am not entirely sure this is one of them.

Let me begin with Emma. Emma starts this story at the age of 15. She is sent by her brother
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
A copy of Shadow on the Crown was provided to me by Viking Adult/Netgalley for review purposes.

"You must ever be prepared within yourself to face what trials may lay in store for you. let this be your first lesson: No one else must see you like this, Emma. Do you hear me? However great the provocation you must never allow anyone to see your fear."

I'm a huge fan of historical fiction novels but to be honest, I don't branch out enough outside of my comfortable safe-zone kn
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book immensely. I had previously read the second book in this trilogy. (But I would not advise reading any series backwards, especially history or historical fiction.)

In this, the first of three books about Emma of Normandy, Emma marries Aethelred, the king of England in order to solidify a relationship between England and Normandy. Emma's brother, Richard, Duke of Normandy gains an alliance with a king who controls a vast area of England; Aethelred gets a promise that Richard will
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Patricia Bracewell's Shadow on the Crown marked my first encounter with Emma of Normandy. The historic record is sketchy at best, so it isn't as if there's a lot of information for those looking to learn more about her, but even the basics were new to me. Naturally this blank slate mentality made it difficult to discern where fact met fiction, but it also made reading the book a unique experience as I was able to really lose
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Shadow on the Crown" is the first book in the Emma of Normandy trilogy by Patricia Bracewell. Emma is a young woman who is forced to marry King Aethelred of England. She is married off to him as so many medieval women were married because her family wanted to form an alliance. The king isn't all too happy to being married to Emma and is very suspicious of her true motives. This book is a great opening to a trilogy about a woman that I knew little about before I opened this book!

This book is a g
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell is a historical novel set way back in 1001 England. Emma is married by arrangement to the king in exchange for certain favors from her brother.
The road for Emma is hard. The king doesn't care about her and mostly resents her. She must keep his interest if she is to ever produce an heir. This task is made more difficult because of a very determined rival.
Many battles are fought, schemes are hatched and carried out viciously, there are illicit romances, h
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This is Historical fiction 11 century England. I loved the historical aspect of this. Some of the information was different than what is reported in history books. I usually don't mind that as long as the story is firmly tethered down..which it was.

I liked Emma's attitude, but this often felt a little too modern for this time period. She also seemed to stumble onto pertinent information that aided in her decision making process. I wish a better network had been established to filter the informa

3.5 stars.

Being the second of only two novels written about Emma of Normandy so far, it’s difficult not to compare this to the first, Helen Hollick’s The Forever Queen. Hollick’s novel is one of my favorites and so it would be difficult to stand up against in my eyes. At the same time, it's difficult to compare them because this novel only covers a portion of Emma's life whereas Hollick's novel covers her whole life.

Shadow on the Crown tells a tale of a st
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
It never ceases to amaze me when I read a book such as this – one that is steeped in research and history and then weaved into a believable tale that is ripe with plot, voice and pacing. I’m all the more amazed for this is Bracewell’s debut novel.

This novel is based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and fictionalizes the reign of King Athelred and his Norman queen, Emma. Bracewell does a superb job crafting a story rich in history, period details and vernacular that the reade
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Shadow on the Crown" is a beautifully written historical novel of love, loss, suffering and determination. Patricia Bracewell has created a vibrant world full of rich, engaging characters for the enjoyment of her readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, as it was well researched, creatively crafted and an overall enjoyable experience. If you are a fan of historical fiction, this book will not disappoint.

The author has filled her pages with immaculate dialogue that transported me back i
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
I am torn: part of me is intrigued by Emma and what her role will be in the development of England, and the part of me is not eager to pick up the next book in this trilogy. I think that means a biography is in order. (Biographies are always in order.)

Here are my problems:

(view spoiler)
Rebecca Huston
I had gone into this one expecting that it was going to be yet another historical romance, but instead found it to be a fairly solid historical novel. Not too many novels are set in England before the Norman Conquest, and this one tells the story of Emma, the sister of the Duke of Normandy who marries AEthelred II, king of the English. Expecting at least affection, Emma discovers herself in a court where her husband sees her as just a vessel to breed up sons on, a mistress who isn't above treach ...more
Annelies - In Another Era
As sister to the Norman duke Richard, Emma gets betrothed to the English king Aethelred II. Aethelred has just lost his wife in childbed who gave him already three daughters and six sons. His marriage to Emma is a pure political one as her brother promises to help defend England against the Danes. But the allegiance comes with a prize: Emma gets a crown and the title Queen of England.

Soon Emma discovers she has few friends at court and her husband bears her no love. Aethelred is plagued by a chi
Brilliant. Just brilliant.

The beautifully described settings transport the reader to Saxon England. The complex and skillfully developed characters become friends . . . or enemies. Scenes of drama, love, and suspense are interspersed with quotes from historical texts, showing how and where the author embellished Emma of Normandy's story. Since her story takes place at the beginning of the 11th century, there is much left to the imagination. Bracewell fills in these gaps marvelously. I enjoyed t
Cynthia Mcarthur
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
In Shadow on the Crown, Patricia Bracewell has written an engaging story about Queen Emma and her journey from Normandy to England, embellished with forbidden love, crushing sense of duty, and ultimately hope.
King Aethelred (the Unready) of England’s uncrowned wife has died in childbirth, and admidst unrest on his council and Viking raiders on England’s shores, he is forced into an alliance with Normandy. Emma is to be the peaceweaver whose influence spans the Narrow Sea. To Emma’s disappointme
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all interested in royalty in the medieval era.
Fascinating! Patricia Bracewell’s Shadow on the Crown ( The Emma of Normandy #1) describes the medieval period of December 1001 to January 1005 when Emma, the sister of the Duke of Normandy, becomes the crowned queen of Aethelred the Unready of England. Aethelred, also known as Aethelred II, is a troubled and brutal king which fits almost too well this medieval period as it is a brutal and bloody time in England’s history. Emma, a strong woman, realizes just how strong she must be to fill this r ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent debut historical fiction novel. The plot is captivating, the characters are vivid and complex and the time period is portrayed so starkly real that I could see, taste, smell and feel everything that our central protagonist, Emma, did. It was brilliant from start to finish.
Emma of Normandy is mostly known for her role as the mother of Edward the Confessor and also for her second marriage to Cnut the Great, when she became the Queen of England once more. This novel however foc
Dec 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Started this book as a quick indulgent Saturday night read, and the writing was certainly more competent than I expected. However, I found the constant and unmitigated abuse of women (physical and sexual) to be very grating. While I understand that this was a common feature of medieval society, I feel that it was given undue reign in a book that took many imaginative liberties. I kept hoping for the two main female characters to overcome their social restraints and assert themselves; instead the ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This was the first time I've ever read a book from this era, so the historical part of this was eye-opening. Unfortunately the narrative wasn't as great. I really did want to like it, but I had a hard time differentiating between all these Nordic names starting with E. And a book centered around a woman trying to produce an heir isn't exactly the most exciting of reads. The history was good though. ...more
Emma of Normandy is quite the fascinating woman, and I’ve long admired her strength and intelligence, especially as a woman in the eleventh century. Prior to reading Shadow on the Crown, I’d actually already read a book about Emma, and while it’s been a few years and I don’t remember much, I did enjoy it. I think it’s interesting, then, to juxtapose Patricia Bracewell’s version of events with the other.

Shadow on the Crown covers a fairly short span of years, dealing only with Emma’s marriage to
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: medieval, edelweiss
Shadow on the Crown covers a few years around 1006, during the reign of Æthelred the Unready in England.  Emma, a Norman, is sent to marry Æthelred in order to secure peace between the Normans and the English.  But Æthelred is cruel, more interested in another woman, and all but ignores Emma. And Emma finds herself falling for Æthelred's son, Athelstan.  Emma struggles to keep her place as queen of England, despite rivals, a miscarriage, and her own dislike of Æthelred.  And, of course, she give ...more
Rio (Lynne)
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars. This first book in this trilogy about Emma of Normandy started strong. Having read The Forever Queen, I enjoyed this different take from Bracewell. The first book covers Emma's marriage to AEthelred. This subject was braised over in The Forever Queen, so I enjoyed more detail and more history, especially the St. Brice's Day Massacre. The second half of the book on the other hand started dragging for me. Unnecessary storylines about side characters took up too many pages, in my opinion ...more
Krystal Marlein
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy to review as a goodreads first reads winner.

I started reading this book with an open mind. Not generally my genre, which I really should just leave a expectations behind because frankly I've come to find I don't rely have a set genre I like to read anymore. This book takes place long in the past when Kings & Queens ruled the land. As a debut novel I have to say it was very well written, consistent and easy to understand. I find more often than not novels written in this genre a
Sara Giacalone
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Bracewell's imagining of Queen Emma's early years of marriage to King Athelred and am eagerly anticipating the second and third books in the series. I especially liked her portrayal of King Athelred - his mistrust, his inner deamons, his brutality; and her inclusion of a meeting with a young Cnut. Well done!! ...more
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Patricia Bracewell grew up in Los Angeles where her love of stories led to college degrees in Literature, a career as a high school English teacher, and a yearning to write. Her first novel, Shadow on the Crown, about the 11th century queen of England, Emma of Normandy, was published in 2013. Its sequel, The Price of Blood, appeared in 2015. The final book of her Emma of Normandy Trilogy, The Stee ...more

Other books in the series

The Emma of Normandy Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy, #2)
  • The Steel Beneath the Silk (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #3)

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“As Norman bride and English queen she would walk a fine line between the interests of two rulers -- her brother and her lord. Both men would demand her fealty. One, at least, would exact a heavy price if she were to prove disloyal.” 5 likes
“His vision blurred to haze, the sounds of feasting stilled, and from every dark corner, shadows streamed toward him until they reached the dais and formed a pulsing darkness before him. From its murky heart, his dead brother's face, eyes glowing and malignant, stared into his.” 2 likes
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