Saturday, June 14, 2014

A King's Ransom

Oh, Sharon Kay Penman.  You have done it again. 

I will admit.  It is very difficult for me to review a book by SKP with any kind of objectivity because I LOVE HER SO MUCH.  Ever since the day I stumbled onto When Christ and His Saints Slept, I was completely hooked.  She is such a phenomenal writer, and she writes about a time period I love.  It's a literary match made in heaven. 

I'll try to keep my head screwed on straight for your sake, dear readers.  But it will be hard.  Because once again THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD.

A King's Ransom is Penman's final book in her Plantagenet series (or at least she claims it is).  It covers the second half of King Richard I's reign.  Her previous book about Richard, Lionheart, covered the crusade years.  My review of that one can be found here.  As Richard left the middle east and tried to come home to England (to stop his brother, Prince John of Robin Hood infamy, from taking over), he was kidnapped by the Duke of Austria and handed over to the Holy Roman Emperor.  It was years of treachery and whatnot before his mother managed to arrange for his release.  The book also includes his turbulent marriage with his Spanish princess, the double dealings of his brother Prince John, and the continuation of the life of my favorite woman from history, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the only woman in history to be queen of both England and France in the course of her life and whose descendants went on to rule most of Europe for centuries to come.

You can't make this stuff up.  History itself is much more exciting than fiction.

Once again, Penman keeps you turning every page - even though you already know what's going to happen.  The fact that I knew the outcome of Richard's life before I read the book was irrelevant.  I still couldn't put the book down.  Penman's brilliance as a historical novelist just keeps the reader coming back for more - and aching once the book is over. 

Her meticulous research also keeps me coming back.  I have mentioned this before, but she has ruined me for many other historical writers.  I am now a historical fiction snob.  If it's not well researched, or certain events are changed for no apparent reason, then I don't consider it worth my time.  Penman is passionate about being as factual as possible, and I love that about her.  Just makes me want to read her work all the more. 

I waited over two years for Ransom, and it was well worth the wait.  Come read this book and dive into the world of the Middle Ages.  The intrigue and drama found there is far more interesting than any soap opera you can find today. 

Rating out of 5 stars:  oh come on, like a book like this can be confined to 5 stars...
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon.  That's pretty much it for a while.

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