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Devils Brood by Sharon Kay Penman

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Carine
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Currently reading: Jonkvrouw - Jean-Claude Van Ryckeghem
Interest in HF: I love history
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Preferred HF: Medieval, Tudor and Ancient Egyptian
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Post by Carine » Wed October 15th, 2008, 5:27 pm

Both reviews are great ! Thank you both for them !
I'm almost ashamed to tell you that I haven't read one of Sharon Penmans books as yet, but I do have 3 sitting on my TBR pile (The Sunne in Splendour, Here be Dragons and Falls the Shadow), so before I get to the Eleanor-books, I think it'll take me a while, but I'm really looking forward to reading them too now !

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LCW
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Post by LCW » Wed October 15th, 2008, 5:35 pm

You just have to start with Here Be Dragon's. It's one of my favorite books of all time!
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. --Arnold Lobel

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Carine
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Posts: 675
Joined: September 2008
Currently reading: Jonkvrouw - Jean-Claude Van Ryckeghem
Interest in HF: I love history
Favourite HF book: Can't pin that down to only 1 :-)
Preferred HF: Medieval, Tudor and Ancient Egyptian
Location: Ghent, Belgium
Contact:

Post by Carine » Wed October 15th, 2008, 5:41 pm

[quote=""1lila1""]You just have to start with Here Be Dragon's. It's one of my favorite books of all time![/quote]

Thanks for the tip 1lila1, I think I will after I finished Shadows and Strongholds which I'm enjoying also a lot now !

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Wed October 15th, 2008, 5:58 pm

Here be Dragons for sure. What a love story with Joanna and Llwellyn. Glad you're enjoying S&S, it's one of my favorite of EC's

Great review lila. I gave you a helpful vote on Amazon :D

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Wed October 15th, 2008, 8:42 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]Here be Dragons for sure. What a love story with Joanna and Llwellyn. Glad you're enjoying S&S, it's one of my favorite of EC's

Great review lila. I gave you a helpful vote on Amazon :D [/quote]

Yep, definitely Here Be Dragons for my money too!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Wed October 15th, 2008, 9:49 pm

[quote=""1lila1""]You just have to start with Here Be Dragon's. It's one of my favorite books of all time![/quote]

Ditto here!
~Susan~
~Unofficial Royalty~
Royal news updated daily, information and discussion about royalty past and present
http://www.unofficialroyalty.com/

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Telynor
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The Devil's Brood -- Telynor's review

Post by Telynor » Thu October 16th, 2008, 8:35 am

I've been waiting quite a few years to read the conclusion of Sharon Kay Penman's trilogy about Henry II of England, and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. When my copy of <i>The Devil's Brood</i> arrived on my doorstep, everything else got set aside as I dove in.

Thomas Becket has been murdered, and Henry has taken himself off to Ireland to bring that troublesome country under control. While he is in Ireland, his wife, Eleanor, is taking the management of her duchy, Aquitaine, into her own hands, as well as raising their numerous brood of children. Her favourite, Richard, is already learning the arts of war and Eleanor has decided that he will be Duke of Aquitaine in time. Their eldest son, Hal, has been crowned king (a custom among the French kings to ensure a smooth succession), and married, but he is proving to have none of his parent's cunning and skill at politics. Quite the opposite in fact. And John, the youngest of the children, is too young to any influence, but he watches and waits, caught as he is between two very strong willed parents.

When the sons are thwarted of any real power, and Eleanor joins them in rebellion, it unleashes consequences that no one can imagine. Especially for Eleanor, who has led a life that most women could only dream of, and having the daring to divorce her first husband and forge with her second husband an empire that was the mightiest in the Europe of its time. Most history of the time tends to blame the rebellion on Eleanor discovering about her husband's mistress, Rosamund Clifford, but the reality is much more different -- Eleanor was far more pragmatic and very much a realist.

And thankfully, so is Ms. Penman. This tale of Eleanor and Henry II and their children goes in a far more different direction than most novels set in this period. And for fans of the film <a href="http://www.epinions.com/review/mvie_mu- ... 37732">The Lion in Winter</a> will find that this book varies quite a bit from the story presented in the movie -- and once I had read Penman's reasoning in her author's afterword, made a great deal of sense to me.

The several sequences in the book really hit me hard. One was of Henry at the tomb of Thomas Becket, doing penance in a night-long vigil; another was Eleanor coping with the reality of being Henry's prisoner, separated from her beloved sons and Aquitaine; the death of the young king, and most surprising of all, the depiction of the third son, Geoffrey, as he marries a woman just as ambitious as he is.

I found this to be a wonderful read, full of just the things I like in a historical novel -- a true sense of time and place that is different than our own; strong, interesting characters; lots of plot and new insights into a history that I knew well, and some very tight storytelling. Fans of Penman's previous novels will like the fact that this dovetails neatly into <i>Here Be Dragons</i> and there are hints that another novel about Eleanor, Richard and John are to come.

While it isn't quite necessary to have read the previous two novels in the trilogy -- Ms. Penman puts in enough background information to fill in the gaps -- it will help to understand more of Henry and Eleanor, and especially why Thomas Becket plays such a pivotal role in the story later.

Sharon Penman is an author that I happily recommend to anyone who wants their historical fiction to be full of adventure, conflict, and some truly amazing events. If you have read her work before, you already know how good she is; if you haven't tried any of her writing yet, this wouldn't be a horrible place to start, so go on ahead, clear some evenings ahead, and prepare to be entertained.

Five stars overall, and I would give it six if I could.

<i>The Henry and Eleanor Trilogy</i>:
When Christ and His Saints Slept
<A href="http://www.epinions.com/review/Time_and ... 5668">Time and Chance</a>
<b>The Devil's Brood</b> -- you are here

<i>The Welsh Trilogy:</i>
<a href="http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_Her ... 5812">Here Be Dragons</A>
<I>Falls the Shadow</I>
<I>The Reckoning</I>

<i>The Devil's Brood</i>
Sharon Kay Penman
2008; A Marion Woods Book, Putnam
ISBN 978-0-399-15526-0

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Post by Ash » Thu October 16th, 2008, 1:54 pm

Excellent review! I just finished it last night, and totally agree about the parts of the book that moved you. I'd add Henry's discovery of his last son's treachery just before he died.

While I really enjoyed it, there were times when I got tired of this family. If this wasn't historical fiction, rather someones idea, it probably would have been a wallbanger about midway through. But that fact that it was historical, that her writing is so superb, that her characters come to life so much that I wanted to hug Constance like her mother did, and slap Hal a few times, makes up for any of my 'oh no not again' moments.

One of the big surprises to me was Geoffrey. I knew very little about him, except for what happens to his son. But I think she fleshed him out very well. The scenes with Constance, as I mentioned before, really made me think of what Henry and Eleanor's early marriage probably was like. What happened to him what a shock, and what she had to do to keep her children from being wards of France was another reminder of how powerless women were, even those who had some rank.

As I was reading this, I was trying to determine if this was a book I could recommend to people with little or no background. While Penman does an excellent job introducing her characters, I'm just not sure. I think you need to know what happened in the other two books to get the full appreciation of what is going on (either by reading the books or already having the background). I think I'd suggest starting at the trilogy before going here. Which isn't a bad place to start!

Eager for her new book, hope that she is healthy and able to write it so we don't wait so long! (why yes, I am a big selfish :) ) I think that book will dovetail very nicely to her first, Here Be Dragons, which means I may just have to read that all over again!

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu October 16th, 2008, 3:29 pm

Great review Telynor, hope to see it on Amazon soon. I agree with Ash, this would be a difficult book to get in to unless one has some knowledge and interest of the period going in but I loved every minute of it. It's going to be a long wait for the next one.

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LCW
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Post by LCW » Fri October 17th, 2008, 2:36 am

Ash, I found that I needed to take a break 2/3 of the way in. After spending most of Saturday reading, Sat. night I needed to just chill, do some Yoga, and watch some TV. It could've also just been reading overload. All of SKP's books are pretty meaty and not light fiction by far. But this book held my attention fast and I couldn't wait to get to the next page. But I do agree that most SKP's books are for hardcore HF fans. Here Be Dragon's is an exception though. I can't imagine anyone not falling in love with that book!

And great review, Telynor! I always look forward to your reviews!
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. --Arnold Lobel

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