Saturday, June 28, 2014


Sharon Kay Penman
A Marion Wood Book
G. P. Putnam's Sons
Penguin Group
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-399-15785-1
$ 28.95
594 pages

Legends often distort reality and for King Richard I of England that is certainly true.   A king of England who fought his father, spent less than six months in England once he became king, and fought for Christianity during the Crusades.   What made him a legend?  How could a king who barely visited the country be considered one of the best kings?

Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine had five sons.  Naturally, the eldest was expected to succeed as ruler of Britain.  William died as a child with Henry dead as an adult, Richard, Geoffrey died in battle, John, and three daughters, for any mother of eight children, having an heir would seem like a simple task.   However when the children were fighting with their father, Henry favored John as king while Eleanor expected and assisted with Richard.

Being that Richard was not originally considered to be king, he was granted his mother's inherited land of Aquitaine.   However once Richard became king, he was expected to Aquitaine to John since he now possessed Britain.

Lionheart focuses on Richard's time in the Holy Land on the Third Crusade explaining his reasoning for many of the actions which created the legend.   The details are so engrossing placing the reader back in 1189  on board a ship traveling to Sicily on the journey to Outremer where you feel the seasickness of those on board, even can visualize the horses on each ship and the multitude of challenges along the way.

Sharon Kay Penman is a spellbinding storyteller who has written many historical novels based on the history of Wales, Eleanor of Aquitaine and her second husband, Henry II, along with their children as well as four mysteries in the same time period.  Her extensive research turns the legends of the past into reality.

In Lionheart, Saladin is an unusual character but Sharon Key Penman allows the reader to view him as a person with honor and an in-depth knowledge of people.  This is rare in novels of the time period regarding the infidels.

Being that Richard's story is extensive, Lionheart is the first of a two novel set concluding with A King's Ransom which obviously is about when Richard was captured and held for ransom.

All of Penman's novels are rich with historical facts that are written into an intriguing story of the past.

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