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The Widow Queen

(The Bold)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  881 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Elzbieta Cherezinska's The Widow Queen is the epic story of a Polish queen whose life and name were all but forgotten until now.

The bold one, they call her—too bold for most.

To her father, the great duke of Poland, Swietoslawa and her two sisters represent three chances for an alliance. Three marriages on which to build his empire.

But Swietoslawa refuses to be simply a paw
Hardcover, 512 pages
Expected publication: April 6th 2021 by Tor/Forge Books (first published June 6th 2016)
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Alex It's not fantasy, it's based on history. So also nerdy, but in different way :p It's very well written and easy to read. If your friend likes history,…moreIt's not fantasy, it's based on history. So also nerdy, but in different way :p It's very well written and easy to read. If your friend likes history, drama, intrigues , romance, vikings and strong female characters then I would definitely recommend it for her. I also like GoT and Eragon, and I enjoyed this book as well - it's just a good book. On the other hand I might be biased, because I'm polish, so it might be because it's about part of my country's history I didn't know much (less)

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To be bold shows courage, but it also requires calculating risk. The Widow Queen offers both, wrapped in an ethereal, atmospheric blanket of history and what reminds me of a bit of magic. Our heroine appears as a teenager over 1,000 years ago in Poland. She's the sister of the heir to the throne, but with Europe and Asia at war on multiple levels, alliances are the most critical way to ensure your future. Swietoslawa has a brother, as well as two half-sisters and probably other siblings. Dependi ...more
David Putnam
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Caught between a three star and four and rounded up. I read across all genres, I will read any fiction and nonfiction if its well written. And still my favorite books of all time are historical; Lonesome Dove, Pillars of the Earth, River God, Shogun, Centennial, and Youngblood Hawk. This book could easily be five stars. The story is well drawn. The first chapters establish the characters and set up the political landscape of the time, excellent conflict, conflict at every turn. I would highly re ...more
Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell
I just found out I'll be getting an ARC of this and I am SO excited

Polish GoT with a bad-ass queen??? I'm THERE
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
finally, someone heard my prayers for more translated fantasy novels
Amy Imogene Reads
Feb 03, 2021 marked it as to-read
Strong Polish queen in medieval times fights the good fight and viciously holds onto her crown when the king dies?? Sign me UP.

Thank you to TOR/Forge for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Laur (hiatus)
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Widow Queen is an uniquely written, superb, historical fiction masterpiece set in the time period from 984 A.D. - 997 A.D. The fascinating yarn it weaves, grabs hold of you from the beginning to the end.

Reminiscent of a "literary game of chess", the story centers around the Piast Dynasty. Duke Mieszko of Poland is a ruthless leader, who seeks to expand Poland's borders through cunning, strength and his children. He's a supreme strategist, and will do whatever is necessary for the good of hi
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really well written story about the Polish Queen. It reminded me slightly of a Viking version of Game of Thrones..

I enjoyed the strength of the main character and following the story of her families rise to power. Translations are often difficult as you can often still tell it is a translation afterwards, but this one didn't really suffer from any of that. It took me a bit for me to find its footing, but once it did I really enjoyed it.

I'd totally keep reading this series and hope they translate
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is perfect for history buffs or people that loved the tv show Vikings. The bold one and her siblings story is amazing, I feel sorry how women were treated back then no more than pawns for their fathers and country. I also feel like this is a story on how christianity took over and wiped out old relations at any cost. I thoroughly loved this book I would love to see it as a movie or show as well.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Such a fascinating story! I have read a lot of historical fiction, but nothing about this time period or part of the world. Set in the late 10th century, this intricate tale follows the rise of the Polish Queen known as “the bold one.” Both unique and engaging, it is an epic story depicting the warring families of Denmark, Sweden and Poland, their struggle to secure power and defend their faiths. I am looking forward to the second installment of captivating series!
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Cornwell has some serious competition coming from this Polish author of historical fiction. I cannot wait for Tor to publish the English translation of this series, but alas, 2021 is still so far away. For those familiar with English history of the late 10th century, this story tells of the side of Europe Western history books tend to ignore. I imagine once translated, Ms. Cherezińska's books will stir some controversy - a Polish Princess mother to not one but two kings? And one of them ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have found 'Harda' in my parents' library. When I asked about it, my mom got overly excited. She claimed it is great and absorbing so I decided to check it out. Mom was right. Almost 600 pages read almost always with bated breath. Even though the events take place in the 10th century and they revolve around wars, religion and dynasties, Cherezińska's prose is gripping and smooth. Cherezińska (the author) also creates witty characters and brilliant contexts for her story. Or rather stories. The ...more
Christine Cazeneuve
First thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced e-ARC copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

I love historical fiction - that is 95% of what I read and particularly those that are about the monarchy, all time periods and recently the Saxons and Vikings. I wanted very much to enjoy this book because of all the "noise" surrounding it. However, as hard as I tried I couldn't find myself engaged with it. I don't know if it has to do with the translation, because my husband
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy of The Widow Queen.
The Widow Queen is about several characters who either are or in the life of Świętosława, who is essentially a Polish princess. We see how these characters react to and survive the turbulent political atmosphere around the Baltic nations.
The characters were interesting, and they played off each other well to create intrigue and drama. The plot moved fast, but didn't feel rushed. The story never dragged. It kept my interest for long p
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A riveting story filled with fascinating history, court intrigue, and dynamic characters, focusing on the Piast dynasty of Poland and the Vikings in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway during the period of 984 A.D. to 997 A.D.

Told from multiple points of views, the characters are well developed where you feel each of their motivations and emotions as they are faced with difficult situations and decisions. I especially enjoyed Swietoslawa’s chapters. Even though her heart belonged to someone else, she e
Jennifer Fatula
Thank you to NetGalley and Tor/Forge Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

This book was interesting but also dense - there was a lot going on! It wasn't as captivating as I had hoped (though still interesting) but I am thinking some of that may be due to the translation (I would give it a little less than 4 stars, rounded up). I also felt that from the book synopsis that it was going to be solely about Swietoslawa and, while most of it did in fact revolve around her, there were man
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars it's not enough. 😊 ...more
Kate Eminhizer
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
The title and blurb about this book are a bit misleading as the focus is not truly on the queen but on the men vying for power. However this book was a fascinating read. In essence, the book provides the early history of four countries: Poland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The Polish Duke Mieszko uses all of the assets available to him to strengthen and expand his country's boundaries and his influence on others. He marries a former nun and converts his country to Christianity. His three daughte ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Widow Queen is a fun, detailed novel of the Middle Ages and the political schemes, alliances, and wars brokered by powerful rulers in Scandinavia. Specifically, this novel focuses on the historical figure Sigrid the Haughty, or Sigríð Storråda, who was the wife of King Eric the Victorious of Sweden and then married King Sweyn of Denmark after Eric's death. In some historical accounts, Sigrid was supposed to be the Polish princess Świętosława (I will refer to her as Sigrid in this review for ...more
A fantastic telling that leads to the beginning of the Kingdom of Poland.

This is historical fiction at it's greatest, all too often historical fiction ends up being historical romance but no such fate befell this wonderful book. Our main character is a strong female character written accurately to the period and not tweaked or modified to fit with our modern politics or views (a quality all too often lacking in HF), which lends a greater historical accuracy and feel to the character. The charact
Dec 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Received this ARC from BookBrowse to review. Got half way through the book and had to stop. The times in Northern Europe were chaotic in the 9th Century--politically and religiously. Christianity was moving in and causing all kinds of unsettling re-evaluation of the multiple gods that had been worshiped for centuries. Not only were many of them to be discarded but multiple wife practices with children from most of the relationships became outlawed. This caused problems for alliances made with th ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-netgalley
I made a promise to myself to not only read books by more diverse authors, but also to read other genres besides my go-to mysteries/thrillers, horror, and science fiction. The Widow Queen is the story of Swietoslawa, a Polish queen, and this historical fiction definitely took me out of my comfort reading zone. At a little over 500 pages, this wasn't a book that I raced through, but rather one that I took my time with, especially since I initially had trouble with the vast quantity of characters. ...more
Veronica Marshall
Dec 03, 2020 rated it liked it
The Widow Queen is series working so you get a main glimpse of time span of different point of views.
It starts with the house Piast of Poland and as The head of the household wants to expand his influence by using his family Duke Miesko. He makes influenceable marriages which puts his daughter as a Queen. Her name is Swietoslawa. She is smart, clever, a schemer, die hard christian. ( Well that specific time period) The perspective of Christianity changes geographically as influence spreads out.
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
This book is about the Polish Piast Dynasty. I'd highly recommend this to those who like their historical fiction full of political intrigue and plotting. Duke Mieszko wants to expand the borders and is ruthless about it, even when it comes to his own family. His plotting feels like a gave of chess. The setting felt accurate and it is clear the author did their research. The characters felt like they fit the time period instead of feeling too modern. The multiple points of view the story is from ...more
Feb 25, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a story that I really wanted to like. It takes place in a historical time and place that I am unfamiliar with, which may have contributed to my overall feelings of confusion, especially at the beginning. Many characters were introduced quickly, and I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. Again, had I been more familiar with the history, this likely wouldn't have been such an issue.

The story itself, although interesting, is a little slow moving. The writing, although beautiful at ti
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Widow Queen authored by Elzbieta Cherezinska is the fascinating and forgotten story of a tenth century queen who ruled two kingdoms, and is remembered in the Norse sagas but was totally unknown to me.

I love historical sagas and this had all the requirements for great historical fiction: great characters, star-crossed lovers, lots of action, and a story which opened the window on a time and place with which I was unfamiliar.

I did need to keep google at hand for about the first fifty pages to
Nov 19, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An imagined life story of a 10th century princess in what are now known as Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, there is great potential here. But I assume that a lot of readers are unfamiliar with this part of the world and especially in this time frame. My review is probably not entirely fair as I received an advance copy (thank you, Bookbrowse!) so it was missing the family trees and maps that would have been helpful in determining alliances and rivalries and borders. But the few characters who we ...more
Crystal Tadlock
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is a retelling of the Piast royalty and their paths of reign.

It took me a bit to get into the book, I would have loved a preface or something with pronunciations of names. I seem to have spent a long time trying to find comfortability in saying the names and hoping I said them correctly.

Once I got into the story, however, I was not turning back! I loved the story and following each individual's sacrifices to get to where they need to be. Even though I was saddened by Olav and Sigrid,
Kee Hoo
Feb 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: no-home-here, arc
The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska

This book was translated over from the original Polish edition. The names are difficult to pronounce, was unable to get a good feeling from the book.

The gist of it, that I was able to come up with, was that the King of Poland had two children by his first wife, a son and a daughter. The daughter is who the book is mainly about. The first wife died and the King remarried. His second wife is evil to the first two children and insists upon the daughter marryin
Mar 06, 2021 rated it liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Widow Queen fascinated me with its promise to shed light on a previously forgotten queen. Women who exert power, who use their wiles and cunning, but who are never remembered. And with Cherezińska's dedication I was even more in love. In many ways, this project seems like a love letter to all the women forgotten by history, who history chooses to forget. For women who are used as
Anna Garczyńska
It is a light-read, but the amount of characters made it hard for me to keep track of who was who and what exact ties that person had to Swietoslawa or her family. It is a well-written historical fantasy based on legends, sagas and history records. At some point the language can get quite turgent and the plot or situations a bit forced or cliched, but it is still worth reading. It feels to me the author really would like to have it screenplayed and filmed from some of the scenes that d not reall ...more
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Elżbieta Cherezińska - polska pisarka, teatrolog, specjalizuje się w powieści historycznej.

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