Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Shadow on the CrownTitle: Shadow of the Crown
Author: Patricia Bracewell
Series: 1st in series
Pages: 416
Published: February 7th 2013 by Viking Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:  In 1002, fifteen­-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.  Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

I Give This ...

I confess to knowing next to nothing about this time period.   I'm familiar with William the Conquer who is descended from these people.  But, that is about as far back as my English history knowledge really goes. 

This was a brutal time period.  I know that in this time period women were little more than property.  Men often took what they felt was rightfully theirs and sometimes did so by force.  Keeping a mistress on the side was common place, and wives were expected to look the other way.  But honestly, this took that idea to a whole new level.   It was extremely graphic, but I was reminded that even in the historical fiction time period I tend to read, women were still progressing forward.
I loved Emma.   I think she knew from the start that her place as wife and Queen would not be easy.  She was a bargaining tool and nothing more.  At any moment, someone could go back on the agreement made when she was married and place her in danger.   But, she also held power that women before her lacked.  She was made Queen and gave birth to a son that contested the line of heirs.   She never wavered in her beliefs to get what she felt she deserved.  

King Athelred was an interesting character.  There were times that I thought if he gave Emma half a chance he might actually grow to love her.  But, all he can see is his resentment and fear.  His own paranoia and delusions are really what drive this story to his breaking point.  He refuses to see reason from any of his advisers.  He is convinced his sons are trying to take the thrown from him.  His thought process and actions lead to so many horrible repercussions.  

This is suppose to be the first in a series.  I would be interested to read the next one.  Emma kind of comes off as calculating at the end.  The little research I've done makes her seem less than that.  Although I do find in fascinating that she was the wife of  kings, mother to 2 kings, and stepmother to 2 kings.  What a lineage to pass on!

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