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review 2017-06-21 14:37
The King's Hounds by Martin Jensen
The King's Hounds (The King's Hounds series) - Martin Jensen
This was a fun, easy to listen to audiobook mystery. Some annoying anachronistic words were sprinkled throughout, but I assumed that was due to it being a translation and was forgiving regarding them.

The mystery, which our lovable protagonists have no good reason to be in charge of solving, involves the murder of a nobleman just as Cnut is gathering them to confirm his kingship. How inconvenient. The unlikely pair find their way into plenty of trouble, prove their womanizing skills, and even solve the murder. It is all a bit meandering but in good fun. This isn't a edge of your seat suspense novel, but an enjoyable diversion.

The skilled narrator bumped up the rating on this for me. Considering it is free through Kindle Unlimited, this is a worthwhile selection.
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review 2016-08-24 15:00
The Northern Queen by Kelly Evans
The Northern Queen - Kelly Evans

I started reading this book and was somewhat confused. Aelfgifu? Isn't that Canute's harridan wife from the north who tries to ruin everything for Emma? How can she be enjoying a romantic moment with her husband or - heaven forbid! Making Emma out to be the evil one?


This unique perspective on King Canute's rival wives may have thrown me for a loop after reading so many positive portrayals of Emma, but that is also exactly what I love about historical fiction. Just as Richard III was made a hero in Sunne in Splendour or Thomas Cromwell made to shine in Wolf Hall, Aelfgifu is a heroine we can feel empathy for in Evans' Northern Queen.


I'm glad that I read this book, because, though I try to keep in mind that we don't know all that we think we do about historical figures, Aelfgifu is one whom I have never considered another side of. The idea that she may have truly loved Canute never really crossed my mind. Any time I am forced to reevaluate my perspective and peer into another possible view of history, I am grateful.


Aelfgifu's role keeps her on the sidelines of events, which makes her story one of a woman who thought to be queen but in reality is a woman often left waiting to hear news from others. This is a difficult way to write while keeping the story moving along, and Evans does an admirable job of it.


If you've ever wanted to see Emma's power struggle from the other side, this is the book for you.

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review 2016-08-18 14:06
Heretics of De'Ath by Howard of Warwick
The Heretics of De'Ath (Chronicles of Brother Hermitage) - Howard of Warwick

I gave this another shot but am giving up at 41%. This book is a light, humorous read rather than a true historical mystery. It sounds sort of like something by Mel Brooks, complete with anachronisms, irreverence, and less than intelligent characters. I thought maybe if I was in the right mood.....but no. Life is too short and I'm moving on.




I received this book from NetGalley.

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text 2016-08-11 13:29
Update: 36% and setting it aside
The Heretics of De'Ath (Chronicles of Brother Hermitage) - Howard of Warwick

I need to stop being such a sucker for anything with illumination on the cover. (Note to self: this seems effective. Consider illumination as theme for next set of book covers.)


This is more of a parody of a medieval mystery with not a singe devout soul to be found in the entire monastery. I'll admit that at first I found some of the irreverent, and often anachronistic, humor entertaining, but I'm struggling with getting through an entire book of it.


For example, I liked these passages:


Old St Peter and Paul in Bailgate had been visited as a ruin for so long that many suspected it had been built as a ruin in the first place, simply to attract visitors. The new church, however - new because it had only been there for a couple of hundred years - had been doing its best to fall down ever since it had been put up.




At one point the thoroughfare of Ermine Street disappeared completely. All of the stone had been removed and there was nothing left but a large pit, full of disturbingly green, deep-looking water. A fairly substantial dwelling stood off to the right just here, down a track of its own. The track was very well maintained and, upon close examination, the dwelling looked rather like a Roman road, only stacked up with windows in it.


Unfortunately, the portrayal of all monks as thoroughly evil or too stupid to achieve even that status is wearying. The murder investigation, such as it is, does not hold much promise, and unless Brother Hermitage pulls a Columbo style twist, he's not solving anything....at least not on purpose.


I'll finish this when I need a light read, but for now I cannot bear one more 'Cheerio' said in 1066.

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review 2016-06-22 16:34
Sons of the Wolf by Paula Lofting
Sons of the Wolf - Paula Lofting

Historical research shines in this novel of a thegn's family during the years leading up to the Norman conquest. I enjoyed the scenes of daily chores, courting rituals, and interactions between people of varying social levels. Lofting clearly has a deep understanding of the life and times of 1050s Britain.


Wulfhere is a well-written hero because he isn't really a hero all the time. In fact, some of the things he did made me want to smack him silly. He is violent, adulterous, impetuous, but he also does everything he can for those he loves even if he's terrible at demonstrating that at times. He is humble, much to his ambitious wife's dismay, but his modesty is pushed too far when Earl Harold (future king) insists that Wulfhere betroth his daughter to the son of his enemy in order to put an end to their family fued.


The story of Wulfhere's family is part of the larger portrait of England as the search for an heir begins. King Edward has no hope of a son of his own, so he sends to the Continent for the son of his half-brother, Edmund Ironside. Of course, William Duke of Normandy has another plan. Since the crown is passed through approval of the Witan rather than the king's wishes or inheritance, the field of contenders promises to increase before Edward's demise.


My favorite part of this book was the battle, or more aptly named, massacre of Hereford. It is not an easy segment to read. It is violent, gory, & likely just what it was like to be in Hereford as the Welsh and Irish-Norse mercenaries attacked it. There is absolutely no romanticising it, which some readers will find to be too much. I appreciated the author's skill and honesty.


The newly released edition of this book also has a stunning cover:

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