Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman

In classic Sharon Kay Penman style, this brilliant account of Richard the Lionheart's crusade is told from the points of view of the women in his life, namely the two who accompanied him to the Holy Land, his wife Berengaria of Navarre and his sister, Joanna, Queen of Sicily.

Part of what I really liked about this one was that it was set in in the Mediterranean/Middle East, which was a refreshing change from the areas Penman usually writes in (mostly England, Wales, and France).

As usual, the characters are what make it shine but I am also amazed that Penman manages to make the battle scenes just as interesting to me since I’m not very hugely interested in military history. Penman really shows why Richard is considered such a brilliant military leader, why men would follow him and believe in him against all odds. It really explains why, despite the fact that Richard didn’t do much for England as a King and used it primarily to fund his Crusades, he is remembered favorably as Richard the Lionheart. At the same time, Richard was not flawless and as ever, Penman created a wonderfully multi-dimensional character.

I also really enjoyed her portrayal of Berengaria, the perfect example of how women can be strong and capable without being outspoken and rebellious. It was also interesting to watch how the two main women in the story were so different and yet formed such a strong bond over their love for Richard and their willingness to follow him through any hardship.

This was a Goodreads Giveaway.
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