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Time and Chance

(Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine #2)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  7,504 ratings  ·  340 reviews

In When Christ and His Saints Slept, acclaimed historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman portrayed all the deceit, danger, and drama of Henry II's ascension to the throne. Now, in Time and Chance, she continues the ever-more-captivating tale.

It was medieval England's immortal marriage--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to leave a
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published March 4th 2002)
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In the second novel, we follow Henry II who was but a boy as his mother, Maude, fought for the throne. In the end, Maude and her opponent tired each other out for almost twenty years, agreeing to leave the throne to her son. Henry's rise looked promising as he had a distinguished battle record and married the beautiful and clever Eleanor of Aquitaine, making him the wealthiest man in Europe.
But, Henry's future rule proved to
Krista Baetiong Tungol
Another great work by Sharon Kay Penman! I didn’t find it as engaging as the first installment, When Christ and His Saints Slept (maybe it’s because reading about the enigmatic Thomas Becket and his unwarranted self-sacrifice—in my opinion—wore me out), but it's still a page-turner nonetheless.

After finishing this book I have gained so much admiration for Henry II, flaws and all. He must’ve been truly exceptional to have most of the realm’s good men rallying and even dying for him. I’m not one
Deborah Pickstone
Heavily politically orientated, the second installment of the early Plantagenets. Henry II is one of my historical heroes, not for being heroic (though he was a very able warrior and leader) but for his establishment of the basis of our legal system and the imposition of peace (relatively!) in England after the catastrophic years of the Anarchy. His success in achieving control over an empire consisting of England and most of France is truly astonishing. He was a very controlling man and Ms ...more
The reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine was nothing short of dramatic from their personal lives to politics to that of religious undertones. Add Thomas Becket to the mix and it was a soap opera to the extreme. Sharon Kay Penman follows up “When Christ and his Saints Slept” with the second book in the series, “Time and Chance”.

“Time and Chance” picks up the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II a few years after “When Christ and his Saints Slept”. In usual Penman style, “Time and
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes the titles are a tad confusing, but I have managed to read most of Penman's books and have always enjoyed them for her ability to bring these figures of history to life with realistic dialogue and setting descriptions.
In this book I admit to admiring her fictional character Ranulf very much indeed.
The reading of this rather long book took some time and it was rewarding for me.

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Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
It pains me to give anything by Sharon Kay Penman fewer than 4 or 5 stars, because she's one of my favorite authors. But this book just didn't fascinate me like her others did. Usually I am completely engrossed by her writing, but I never really felt a connection to these characters. It's an interesting story--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II and the murder of Thomas Becket--but for some reason I never really got into it. I just don't think it's as well written as some of her other books.
Mar 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Did not enjoy this as much as When Christ and His Saints Slept. Mainly because parts including Becket were kinda boring. But I liked Ranulf and the parts concerning Wales.
Christy English
Sep 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Like most of Sharon Kay Penman's work, this novel is one I come back to from time to time and enjoy again. I just read TIME AND CHANCE again over the holiday weekend, and as always, Sharon's work took me back to the past. I spend a lot of time with Eleanor and Henry in my own work, so it was wonderfully refreshing to see characters I love from her point of view. Her research is impeccable, and the stength of it, as well as her love for her characters comes through in her novels. If you haven't ...more
Mar 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Nerds like me who are obsessed with medieval England & Wales
Hard to really review this one, as I had so little time to read that I spent like 3 months trying to get through it, while only reading about 10 minutes a day. So I never really got into the feel of it or got attached to the characters. They just didn't seem as real to me as in some of her other books and I'm not sure if it was my reading schedule or the way it was written....All together, not one of her better ones in my opinion.
Evita Skinski
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I unfortunately was quite disappointed with this book. There were some sections that reminded me of her marvelous writing in "Here be Dragons" and "The Sunne in Splendour", but I feel like this book was just overly complicated and slow, with too many characters irrelevant to the plot (and not very well outlined either), and various storylines which didn't seem to have anything to do with each other and honestly could have been spared in benefit of concentrating more on Henry and Eleanor.
In no
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I'm not sure how or why, but I feel like SKP has gone off the rails somewhat, because this book and its sequels The Devil's Brood and Lionheart do not live up to her earlier work. It seems to me like the books are becoming more a catalogue of events and losing their emphasis on drama and character development. There are battles galore but none of them even approach the action, excitement, and pathos of how she describes the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury in The Sunne in Splendor, or the battle ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not as good as part one of the trilogy.
Kiesha ~ 1Cheekylass
Not as good as When Christ and His Saints Slept but enjoyable. 4 stars for story, 5 stars for narration.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
At her best (Sunne in Splendour, Here Be Dragons) Penman is numbered among my favorite authors. Those favorites greatly moved me and are memorable years afterwards. There's only one book of hers I've read I ever found tedious--and that's her recent novel "Lionheart" about Richard the I of England.

This particular book is the second in a trilogy about Henry Fitz-Empress, King of England who with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine ruled an empire that rivaled Charlemagne's. The first book, "When Christ
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Wow, it took me a long time to finish this! That's partly because the Olympics were on TV, but mostly because I felt as if I were reading a history book much of the time. While I love historical fiction, I like a bit more fiction mixed in with my history. My eyes glazed over at times, and I admit to passing over some battle scenes and discussions that seemed to go on forever. Repeatedly.

I'm surprised, because Penman is one of my favorite authors! I can't think of another book of hers that I
I am a huge fan of Sharon Kay Penman's, and "Time and Chance" did not disappoint, though I found it harder to get through than some of her other works, such as "Lionheart" and "The Sunne in Splendour". I would definitely recommend reading this one close to its predecessor, "When Christ and His Saints Slept", as I waited two years in between the two and some of the story lines had been lost to the mists of time for me. I very much love Penman's attention to detail, however, and I especially ...more
Wow! Loved this as much as "When Christ and His Saints Slept". A very emotional read that is told from different POV's. I'm surprised that my favorite character so far has been Ranulf since he is fictional. Ms. Penman really brings medieval history alive especially the drama with Thomas Becket. She shows how charming yet ruthless Henry II can be and Eleanor is more likeable then I expected. I'm not going to post any spoilers as some may not know the history of this time (I certainly didn't!) but ...more
Jane Greensmith
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sharon Kay Penman is one of the best historical fiction authors ever. I loved this book--explained the rift between Henry II and Becket as well as Henry II and Eleanor so clearly and compellingly. The characters are interesting, well-drawn and completely believable in the context of their place in time.
Andrew Pixton
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really enjoyed this though it was much slower than its predecesor, When Christ and His Saints Slept. It's also shorter, but a necessary step into the third volume. The crux of the conflict is on an important but failing marriage and the puzzling enigma that was Thomas Becket. The conflict isn't about a war, though it does have war, it's about two of King Henry's most important relationships failing. Interesting, but for a book of this size, it can feel a bit weak at times. Also, it could've ...more
Helen Carolan
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another excellent read from Ms Penman. This is the second in the Henry 2nd and Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy and it's terrific. My only gripe and it's a very small one, is that Eleanor doesn't feature enough for me. Great read none the less.
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

~ Ecclesiastes 9:11

Once again, even the title to Penman's novel is more brilliant than the entirety of some other novels. Henry Fitz Empress has the world at his feet. By the time he is the age most of us are thinking about completing college and getting a job, he rules England
Karen Brooks
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The work of Sharon Kay Penman has long been recommended to me and I finally had the opportunity to read one of her books. At first I was concerned that starting in the middle of a trilogy would be difficult, but partly because the novels are based on history - that of the tempestuous and world-changing relationship of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane - and the fact that they are sublimely written, this was no task. On the contrary, immersing my self in this fiery world, where religion, ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Time and Chance, Love and Hate, Friends and Enemies, Lovers and Strangers any of these could well be the title for Sharon Kay Penman's second installment of the saga of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane. Penman transports the reader to the years of 1156 to 1171. During this time we witness Henry's growth from a young daring king to a seasoned middle age king who is politically savvy.
As Henry grows he wrestles with issues of kingship and humanity. Henry journeys through Wales, England and France
Nancy Ellis
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Today I saw a quote on Facebook that defined a "Book Hangover" as "the inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world".....well, that's the way this book has affected me. Lucky for me I have the next book in the series (Devil's Brood) waiting for me. It's going to take me a few days, though, to recover enough from this one to begin that one! Ms. Penman has the most amazing ability to bring to life the world of her books, in this case the 12th Century world of ...more
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I rarely give 5 star ratings, but Sharon Penman's novel on Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitane, and Thomas Becket deserves the rating and more. This is the second in the author's Angevin series. And while I think no writer or historian can ever completely understand how the marriage between Henry and Eleanor unraveled and how the deep friendship between Henry and Thomas Becket disintegrated, Ms. Penman comes as close as possible to doing so. Her Henry is a complex man--brilliant, determined, and ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I wavered back and forth between 3 and 4 stars for this book. An honest disclaimer..this book had been recommended to me again and again with glowing praise so the bar was very, very high and I'm not sure it could have lived up to a 5 star no matter what. Now on to the actual review..

This is a solid historical fiction book. And that's the best adjective I can come up with for the book. It was missing anything that really connected for me. The narrator of the book constantly changes which stops
Mandy Moody
Time and Chance was not as good as it's prequel, When Christ and His Saints Slept. It's not supposed to be as good as it's sequel, Devils Brood (which I haven't read yet.) It definitely wasn't as good as the Here Be Dragons Trilogy.
But it's still a Penman. And it was still really good.
The story of Henry and Eleanor is one that's been told by half a dozen authors, but SKP manages to put her own stamp on it and make it even more intriguing. Her historical characters are accurate in their
Lyn Elliott
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Penman's story of Henry II, Eleanor, Thomas Becket and the complex politics of England, France and Wales during the first years of Henry's reign. The conflict between church and state/religious versus secular power which was at the heart of the fatal disputes between Henry and Becket is now past in most predominantly Christian countries, but is central to power struggles in a number of others. And the Catholic Church is only just being forced to concede that the crimes of priests ...more
Yet another amazing book by Sharon Kay Penman. Her history is so accurate yet not dry. The pace is amazing. I mean it is history, you know what is going to happen. But I still find myself on the edge of my seat with suspense. And she just keeps it moving so well. She gives you tons of detail and paints amazing pictures but you never feel bogged down.
And she can write! I usually copy the wonderful bits from books I read, but her wonderful bits are so effortlessly intertwined with the action that
Another enjoyable book from SKP, but I didn't find this quite as interesting as her others, and a bit slower than When Christ and His Saints Slept. It's probably just me, but I didn't find the whole Thomas Becket saga all that fascinating, albeit it is an important part of English history. I did like the fact that the author continued with the Welsh side of the story, as so many authors of English history paint the Welsh as pagen barbarians.

I am anxiously awaiting the publishing of the last in
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You'll love this ...: Time and Chance 54 38 Aug 04, 2016 12:06PM  

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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.

The Sunne in Splendour, a novel about Richard III of England is one of the most popular books on the Historical Novel Society's list of best historical novels. In 1996, following

Other books in the series

Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine (3 books)
  • When Christ and His Saints Slept  (Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1)
  • Devil's Brood  (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #3)
“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.” 51 likes
“Outside, the sky was clear, stars gleaming in its ebony vastness like celestial fireflies. It was bitterly cold, and Hywel's every breath trailed after him in pale puffs of smoke. The glazed snow crackled underfoot as he started towards the great hall.” 5 likes
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