Title: Shadow on the Crown
Author: Patricia Bracewell
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 outmanoeuvre 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. Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers.
SHADOW ON THE CROWN is a debut novel based on real historical events that are mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle one of the few written records that still exist from the mediaeval time period. Author Patricia Bracewell has included actual quotes from the document throughout her book, and where the Chronicle remains silent she has let her imagination loose and produced a very plausible scenario in the first of three books about Emma of Normandy. Young Emma, like many women of the 11th Centaury, is used as a political pawn and married off by her brother to the English King – King Athelred (aka Ethelred the Unready) hopes that the marriage will ensure that Normandy will help protect England against the Viking invaders. Emma is only sixteen, and finds herself hated by her husband, hated by her husband’s older sons and hated by her husband’s enemies. She does not wallow in self pity though and soon starts to find her feet in the political turmoil that is England. SHADOW ON THE CROWN is well written, true to the known historical facts and easy to read. Some of the medieval terminology, and the similarity of the names of the secondary characters, got a bit confusing but fortunately there is a glossary at the start of the book, I love it when authors do this! There is regicide, bloodshed, an unforgiving ghost, fortune tellers, betrayal, adultery and still two more books to come in the trilogy about this very interesting Queen.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.
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With thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Viking and the author via Netgalley.