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review 2017-02-21 22:04
The Fifth Knight by EM Powell
The Fifth Knight - E.M. Powell

This was a fun adventure to listen to that poses the question: What if that fateful day in Canterbury was not just about a quarrel between Henry II and Thomas Becket? What if there was much more to it? What if, in fact, Thomas was not even the primary target?


Obviously, this novel has to work outside of what we think we know about the murder of Thomas Becket, so one has to be prepared for that. If you are open to the what-ifs in history, this book is right up your alley. It is a fast paced adventure, unlikely romance, and mystery. At one point it seems that everyone is on the same side, leaving the reader to wonder why they are fighting then. And that's when the next bomb drops.


I can't say too much more without giving away one of the twists and turns of the plot, but if you are drawn to the story of the four knights who secured their place in history on December 29, 1170, this book gives you a peek at what it could have been.


This was great as an audiobook that I was happy to find available through Kindle Unlimited.

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review 2016-10-07 11:01
Avoided for too long!
The Summer Queen - Elizabeth Chadwick

Elizabeth Chadwick has long been on my radar for historical fiction but when I stumbled across her website, I was put off by her somewhat unorthodox methods of research and her rather kitschy book titles. This really didn't sound like someone who took her historical accuracy all too seriously. So what made me download the preview  of this book, I can't really say, but I am so glad I did. I was riveted. My only gripe is that the language used to describe some of the sex scenes sounded so old-fashioned that it could have come straight out of a D H Lawrence story. It just wasn't in keeping with the tone of the book or the times. Thankfully, such scenes were few and far between and mercifully short.. Other than that, I really enjoyed it and will be looking at some of her other books.


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review 2016-04-13 18:34
Lady of Hay by Barbara Erksine
Lady of Hay - Barbara Erskine

Finishing this one took a quite a bit of skimming.


To be fair, the portions of this book that take place in the 12th century are far better than the contemporary story. I picked this up because I am interested in the story of Maud de Braose, but this wasn't really the place to go for that. Unfortunately, the emphasis is on the modern day soap opera and how reincarnation/possession/psychosis/whatever has an impact on the characters. Lots of paranormal mumbo jumbo that everyone involved seems to accept without blinking an eye.


In 1980s style, there is a lot of sleeping around, career women, and creepy guys. There is some violence, including rape . . . . but that's ok because she loves him and actually kind of liked it. Eeeww!


I read the 25th anniversary edition that included an extra short story continuation occurring in 1999. It was even worse than the rest of it.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-02-23 21:26
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
Ivanhoe - Walter Scott

This was a re-read for me, and I do have to admit that I have either become more generous with my ratings or this one deserved higher the first time. Bumping it from 3 to 4 stars, I feel that this book is more fairly rated even if I still didn't enjoy it as much as I would expect to like a story full of adventure, chivalry, plot twists, and Richard the Lionheart.


The greatest turnoff for me is the flowery 19th century writing. I can appreciate the slow story building and verboseness that is common for this time period in some authors, but this one let my mind wander too much. It felt like action was described in such flowery detail that the action disappeared.


That being said, the intertwining tales that bring together knights, Templars, a Saxon heiress, Jewish moneylender, forest outlaw, and the king of England has to have some merit. Ivanhoe offers up fun surprises & innocent romance along with somewhat questionable history. If you are looking for the source of romantic chivalry and the beloved Richard I who exists only in novels, you have found it. However, if you go into reading it knowing that, it is an enjoyable tale.


The women are beautiful, men honorable . . . except the villains who are thoroughly bad and predictably defeated. Think of it as the 19th century version of 'A Knight's Tale' and the anachronisms and stereotypes are just part of the fun.

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review 2016-01-01 16:23
Season of the Raven by Denise Domning
Season of the Raven - Denise Domning

This medieval mystery seemed focused on developing characters to set up the rest of the series. I did like Faucon de Ramis and his unwilling assistant, Brother Edmund, but the action was slow moving. The author demonstrated firm knowledge of the late 12th century, and I enjoyed the characters enough to add the second book in this series to my TBR in the hope that things will move along at a faster pace now that everyone has been introduced.


The most intriguing part of this novel are the few pages at the very beginning and end where we are given sneak peeks of a disturbing child killer. I do want to read more about this guy!

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