Sharon Kay Penman
Putnam, Nov 2008, $27.95
In 1172 King Henry Fitz Empress names his oldest surviving son Hal as his coregent. However with the title comes nothing else as the second Henry since the Conqueror refuses to give his offspring any meaningful authority.
Hal is irate as he feels his sire has insulted him with a name that is a title only and has no power behind it.. The monarch’s wife Eleanor of Aquitaine rallies their male offspring to back their oldest brother in a bid for power. Over several years, however, Richard, Geoffrey and John not only join Hal in an open revolt against their sire, they war with one another over land, which each knows denotes power in late twelfth century England. Eleanor cannot believe how convoluted her encouraging her children to rebel against their martinet father has spun, but remains steadfast in support of Hal.
The third Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine historical thriller (see WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT and TIME AND CHANCE) is an excellent extremely complex medieval saga. The story line digs deep into two obstinate but powerful monarchs who battle in bed and on the throne for the top position. Their adult children also come somewhat into focus especially the frustrated males, which in turn amplifies the intricacy of the story line. Fans of a well written vivid medieval tale will want to read Sharon Kay Penman’s powerful twelfth century chronicle.