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Medieval Sicily

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Medieval Sicily

Postby Margaret » Mon August 25th, 2008, 7:12 pm

I recently reread one of my favorite novels of all time, Cecelia Holland's Great Maria, which is set in eleventh century Sicily. It's such a fascinating time period, when Norman robber barons were gradually taking over the island from the Muslim Saracens who had ruled it during the past couple of centuries. I followed up with Barry Unsworth's The Ruby in Her Navel, also set in medieval Sicily, but in the following century when the Norman takeover was complete and King Roger II was ruling the island.

These are very different novels. Great Maria has an intimate focus on one woman's life and her struggle to gain her husband's respect, while The Ruby in Her Navel is a more outward-looking novel of political intrigue, centering on a main character who works in King Roger's administration. I've reviewed them at http://www.HistoricalNovels.info. For Great Maria, see http://www.HistoricalNovels.info/Great-Maria.html and for The Ruby in Her Navel, see http://www.HistoricalNovels.info/Ruby-in-Her-Navel.html.

I also felt inspired to find out how many other novels are set in this time and place. Not many! I've posted an article about the few that are at http://www.HistoricalNovels.info/Medieval-Sicily.html. I have not read all of these. Maria Bordihn's The Falcon of Palermo was good - I read that several years ago, too long for me to write a review without rereading. Has anyone read Alfred Duggan's Count Bohemond?
Last edited by Margaret on Mon August 25th, 2008, 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Wed August 27th, 2008, 6:47 am

Carla has written one of her excellent reviews of Alfred Duggan's "Count Bohemond", which I hope she won't mind me posting here.

I have read the book myself, but a long time ago. I have a memory of plenty of vivid military action, but rather flat characterization. I remember seeing somewhere a review which described the character of Count Bohemond as "a stuffed shirt, or in this case a mail shirt", which made me chuckle. I did think that it was a pretty fair assessment, though.

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Melisende
Reader
Location: Australia

Postby Melisende » Wed August 27th, 2008, 11:24 pm

Couldn't get into Unsworth's "Ruby" - tried - twice - but .....
"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

Women of History

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Fri August 29th, 2008, 11:41 pm

I think it was a mistake for Unsworth not to set up The Ruby in Her Navel as a mystery novel. He could easily have had a body drop somewhere in the first chapter. It's basically a semi-literary mystery novel, it's just that readers have no way of knowing that until well after the middle of the book. Once I realized that, the whole novel worked for me - of course, I'd already read most of it, so it was a bit late.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Ariadne
Bibliophile
Location: At the foothills of Mt. Level

Postby Ariadne » Sat August 30th, 2008, 12:14 am

It took me about 100 pages before I got into The Ruby in Her Navel at all. If I hadn't been reading it for review, I would've given up, but it got much better after that. Now I have his subsequent novel in my review pile, and I'm keeping all that in mind in case it starts out slow.

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Leyland
Bibliophile
Location: Travelers Rest SC

Postby Leyland » Tue September 2nd, 2008, 4:02 pm

The link belows are from Rachel Bard's MedievalQueens.com website. Bard is an HF author, though I've not read any of her work yet. She does recommend several novels that are very familiar. http://www.medievalqueens.com/mediev..._fiction.shtml

I'm very intrigued by Queen Constance of Germany and Sicily after reading the page linked below and would like find out more about her. She sounds deserving of her own novel. Has anyone come across her in HF?

http://www.medievalqueens.com/queen-...y-sicily.shtml

(I pasted the above from the old forum)
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Tue September 2nd, 2008, 5:45 pm

Maria R. Bordihn's 2005 novel The Falcon of Palermo is about Constance's son Frederick (who became the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II). There's quite a lot about Constance in that novel. She was an extremely interesting woman. That was all I was able to find on Constance when I researched Medieval Sicily novels for http://www.HistoricalNovels.info. There's not much. Authors take note: this is a fascinating time and place, which more novelists should write about!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

falcon of palermo

Postby Kveto from Prague » Fri September 26th, 2008, 9:33 pm

Please tell me about the Falcon of palermo. Im a huge fan of Frederico due, the holy Roman Emperor. I even visited his tomb when my wife and I were in Sicily. Id love to read about him in Historical fiction. Only the date 2005 puts me off a bit (im not a huge fan of most modern historical fiction)

thnx

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Fri September 26th, 2008, 9:59 pm

Keny, what is it you don't like about most modern historical fiction?

It's been awhile since I read The Falcon of Palermo, so I'm not able to be very specific. I thought it was a good, solid read, though not one of my all-time favorite novels. To me, the most interesting and memorable aspect of the story was that Frederick grew up in a place where Muslims were accepted as part of the city's life, and he developed a sympathy for them that was quite unusual among European Christian rulers. Having grown up in Sicily, he did not have much affinity for the climate and culture of northern Europe and the Holy Roman Empire, and he spent little time there, so the novel also spends little time there. The story is perhaps more slanted toward the characters' personal lives than toward politics, though in an era when the personal and the political could not be separated.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

thnx

Postby Kveto from Prague » Fri September 26th, 2008, 10:41 pm

thanks a bunch.

Id love to get someones take on frederico. he was such a once in a century type of character that i think hed be incredably difficult to capture in fiction. a scoundrel and renesaince man before the renesaince.

as for the modern stuff, its just been my experience that the older novelists style speaks to me a lot more, feels more authentic. many modern ones ive read feel as if they are writing for hollywood with happy hollywood endings and other stuff. also the characters feel much more like modern people with modern sesibilities transplanted to old times (a problem common to most historical fiction). also i hate when contemporary speech patterns are used. i like an author to at least try to remind the reader with dialouge that can be diferentiated from modern speech.

anyway, its my quirk, but i have read modern stuff ive liked.


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