Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Queen's Pawn-Christy English

The Queen's Pawn
Christy English
NAL, Apr 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451229236

In 1169, eleven years old Alais, Princess of France understands she is just another useless female except as a pawn in a marital alliance. Whereas her mother died birthing her, Alais’ older married step-sisters were spawned by the wicked Queen Eleanor who was her father King Louis’ first wife before she divorced him to marry the English monarch Henry II. Alais’ dad informs her she will marry Prince Richard, son of the devils King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Ever since Henry exiled her for his lover Rosamunde, Eleanor, though behaving, considers how she can place one of her sons on the throne; with Richard her first choice. When she meets Alais, Eleanor is stunned as the girl reminds her of her herself. She mentors the Princess of France to be her daughter-in-law, but does it out of love. Alais cherishes her teacher, but as she becomes a young woman, she wants much more than Eleanor allows for her. Soon, their mother-daughter like relationship turns acrimonious as the younger uses the power tips the older taught her boldly and brazenly to go after the top prize.

Although Eleanor has been the star of other biographical fictions, this is a refreshing account as the audience sees the late twelfth century world of England and to a lesser degree France through the eyes of the two female powerhouses. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this deep saga as two women vie for control of the English stage using men of rank as pawns in their chess match.

Harriet Klausner

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