Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton

The Sixth SurrenderTitle: The Sixth Surrender
Author: Hana Samek Norton
Pages: 468
Published: July 2010 by Plume
ISBN: 9780452296237
Source: Crazy Book Tours

Description: In the last years of her eventful life, queen-duchess Aliénor of Aquitaine launches a deadly dynastic chess game to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, her last surviving son. To that end, Aliénor coerces into matrimony two pawns-Juliana de Charnais, a plain and pious novice determined to regain her inheritance, and Guérin de lasalle, a cynical, war-worn mercenary equally resolved to renounce his.   The womanizing Lasalle and the proud Juliana are perfectly matched for battle not love-until spies and assassins conspire to reverse their romantic fortunes.

I Give This ...

I enjoy historical fiction, but admit that I'm not well rounded in it.  I have a tendency to stick to British historical fiction because of my heritage.  This one sounded interesting because it contains some familiar English figures, but it's set in France.

I do admit I had to constantly remind myself this was more to do with the French, especially since it has King John, and some of the book is set in England.  I was very unfamiliar with many of the names of the characters and locations.   I also wasn't sure how many of the characters were fictional and how many might have actually existed.  Despite all this, I found that I really enjoyed the novel.

Juliana was an interesting character.  There were times I couldn't quite tell if she was really naive or smarter than the times she lived in.  She had a lot to deal with.  She's a pawn in a bigger picture that even we can't see until the very end.  But, she also tries her hardest not to be the pawn. She creates a life for herself, despite the efforts of her husband to keep her isolated. 

Lasalle, I'm not even sure were to begin with him.  For most of the book I despised him.  I couldn't imagine a situation that he could come out in a better light.  But, the story has such a twisted plot and it's never told from his point of view.  In the end, I was stunned at what he was really trying to do all along.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is as it appears at first.  

I really had no expectations when I started this book.  I knew that quite a few people who enjoy historical fictions really seemed to like this one.  But, I didn't want to get my hopes up.  In the end, I had a delightful novel that I seemed to breeze through. And anyone who reads detailed and rich historical fiction might know this is hard to do.

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