Karla's Reviews > Fountains of Glory

Fountains of Glory by Fiona Harrowe
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's review
Apr 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: eras-medieval, crusades, bodice-ripper, historical-romance, 1st-person-pov, cover-artists-lou-marchetti, rape, wusses-need-not-apply, dead-tree
Recommended for: people who don't mind seeing historical figures do undocumented things in their sex lives
Read from December 15 to 25, 2013

By the time I reached page 100, I wanted to throw this book at the nearest wall. I hate repetitious vocabulary, where an author finds one or two words that they absolutely refuse to not use. Harrowe loves mayhap and varlet, and either one was showing up at least once per page. I was quickly becoming unable to turn a page without first scanning it to see if one of them would again show up. (They invariably did.) Uh oh, I thought. Best stop now.

But dammit, the narrators kept changing, the drama got thicker and thicker, and I wanted to know what the hell was going to go down in the Holy Land with this horny, fractious bunch of Franks. So kept reading I did and the mayhaps and varlets eventually became white noise. Hurrah for perseverance.

The novel is divided into six parts, each told from a certain POV (only Everard & Thaissa are fictitious):

1. Everard - a lowly squire to Hugh Le Puiset. He happens across a naked woman about to get raped by two squires and he saves her, only to rape her himself. Thus a love is born. :P He finds out she's a noblewoman and ward to Fulk of Anjou, but his proposal to marry her is refused outright and they begin a very long separation, even when they eventually meet again in the royal court in Jerusalem.

2. Thaissa - Everard's lust object. Being dutiful to her guardian's marriage plans for her, she's in for a long, miserable life and can't seem to bring herself to break with duty and honor, even when she has good (and bad) examples to prod her along.

3. Hugh II of Jaffa - Le Puiset's son and Everard's lord, who embarks on an affair with his cousin, the Queen of Jerusalem. He's ambitious and sneaky and could be plotting treason when he's not ravishing the ladies of the court.

4. Queen Melisande - Very proud and ambitious princess who marries for power and is determined to rule her father's kingdom in her own right, not just as a consort and letting her husband handle things, as Holy Land heiresses are expected to do. She's convinced of her ability to manipulate everyone around her in order to keep what she wants, which is her cousin Hugh.

5. The Princess Joveta - sister to Melisande, devoted to God, and determined to become a nun. The brutish Frank lords have colored her perceptions about men, until she finds herself unwillingly attracted to an infidel she believes is a Saracen cloth merchant. (Is she in for a surprise...)

6. Thaissa - She rounds the story out as she finally takes charge of her fate and it ends with our stubborn and proud couple having a come to Jesus moment thanks to, what I'm assuming is, the 1138 Aleppo earthquake.

It wasn't a typical bodice ripper, though there was plenty of combat violence, domestic violence, gore, rape, statutory rape, marital rape, dancer girl gang bangs and everything else you can expect in a brutal historical romance about a very nasty period of history.

I liked the various narrators, because the same characters are seen differently, depending on the POV. Melisande is blind of all of Hugh's faults, but Joveta sees him as nothing else than evil incarnate. (He's somewhere between the two. :P) Thaissa's sense of duty and honor and love for her guardian Fulk colors her perception of Melisande's behavior and treatment of Fulk as her husband. It was all very layered and more emotionally involving than the usual straightforward narrative because we're able to get into the heads of so many characters, and the focus is not confined to a single couple.

The setting was also fresh, since it takes place in the aftermath of the First Crusade and the continuing battles to maintain control of Jerusalem. So much HR and HF focuses on Richard I and his superstar attempts to conquer the region, so it was like having a new cast of characters to get involved with.

Once I was able to ignore all the friggin' mayhaps and varlets (which indeed averaged once per page, if not less), I got all caught up in the drama and history and blood-soaked lusty ambitions that motivated the region's rulers and knights. If anyone has read The Rain Maiden, it was somewhat reminiscent of that - with the trashiness factor a bit less overt - and you will appreciate it accordingly. (You know who you are...Sarah. :D)
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Reading Progress

12/15/2013 page 22
3.0% "This one is off to a rip-roarin' rapey start. :P"
12/15/2013 page 33
5.0% "And then a gang rape. With buttsecks. And the hero takes part. My, this is a frisky little ripper." 8 comments
12/17/2013 page 82
12.0% "The life of a lowly medieval squire: lots of sex and, presumably, some squire-y stuff in his free time. :P"
12/18/2013 page 124
19.0% "Things finally got interesting - sieges tend to do that. But this hero gets more voyeur action than any other ripper I've read. >__> Thank God I'm nearly out of his POV, but next up is Thaisa and she's a bitchy piece of work. And I don't know how many more "mayhaps" and "varlets" I can take. A mixed bag, this one. *girds loins for long haul*"
12/22/2013 page 307
47.0% "Ladies are always more upset by sodomy than men; it not only denies their usefulness as breeders but reflects on their charms as well. I have seen highborn women go purple with rage when they were told their smiles & flirtatious strivings were wasted because their hoped-for lover preferred the smiles of a young, snot-nosed page."
12/23/2013 page 392
61.0% "Not nearly as smutty as The Rain Maiden but these historical people still have all kinds of raunchy kinks. :D (All the "mayhaps" are still annoying, but Fulk of Anjou & Melisande's bed shenanigans make it less obnoxious somehow. ;D)" 2 comments
12/24/2013 page 421
65.0% "I've learned that the Holy Land was a hotbed of burning loins and illicit sexxors, with King Baldwin's daughters being a minxy lot. :P"
12/24/2013 page 500
78.0% ""That will keep you for now. And do not forget, your maidenhead belongs to no one else but me."

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Great review. According to GR, I own a copy of this, plus another by this author.

message 2: by Sarah Mac (new) - added it

Sarah Mac I am officially stashing this on my optimistic shelf. ;) Sounds fab.

message 3: by Sarah Mac (new) - added it

Sarah Mac I didn't re-read the whole review, because I want to be surprised by the WTFery...but yeah, she does love "varlet" & "mayhap." Oh well, whatever. I can take it. The rest is golden.

Karla Definitely worth the annoyance. There's diamonds in them thar vocabulary roughs.

Cat The Curious Thank you so much for your review Karla. You have a knack for finding little known gems. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I didn't even ding it for the repetitive vocabulary. I gave it a full 5 star rating.

Karla Probably if I re-read it again, I'd be able to ignore the repeat vocab as well. It's definitely been one of the best rippers I've read in the last several years, despite the mayhaps and varlets. ;D

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