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Fires of Winter by Roberta Gellis

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Misfit
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Fires of Winter by Roberta Gellis

Post by Misfit » Sat November 29th, 2008, 11:20 pm

Image

Do not be misled by this dreadful cover, it is not a bodice ripping romance, although it's not tops in the historical genre either. Fires of Winter continues the story Gellis began in A Tapestry of Dreams, and tells the story of Lady Audris' illegitimate half brother Bruno. Despite his dubious parentage, Bruno uses his skills with swords and horses to make his way, eventually leading to service at the court of King Stephen (who has usurped the English crown from his cousin Matilda). Melusine of Ulle is from Cumbria in the North and when the last of her family dies fighting against King Stephen she is brought to court as a lady in waiting to Queen Maude. For who knows what reason (I never got it), Stephen decides to knight Bruno and marry him to Melusine, who is half mad with grief over the loss of her family and home, and when she recognizes her new husband as the man who took her from Ulle she attempts to kill him while he's sleeping. Eventually the two manage to build a strong marriage and relationship amidst the backdrop of England's Civil War between Stephen and Matilda.

I guess that sounds good enough of a basis for your usual historical romance and as much as I do enjoy reading Gellis this book has some problems. Told in the first person point of view of Bruno and Melusine in alternating chapters, the story tends to overlap and backtrack way too much. As for the romance, so much of Bruno's service to Stephen keeps him on the battlefield and not sparring and making up with Melusine, so I suspect romance readers will be bored to tears. As for those who enjoy a bit more history (as I do) in their historical romances, the choice of such a complicated period in English history is not the best choice and came off to this reader as quite dry and not very interesting. I'd recommend Penman's When Christ and His Saints Slept. The only real highlights of the book are the few times Bruno and Melusine are together, although they did get a bit corny and outdated at times, ROFL the constant references by Bruno to his "standing man" Sir Jehad (and no I'm not going to explain what that means, if I did I'd get censored). Three stars, only recommended for die-hard Gellis fans

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sun November 30th, 2008, 2:27 pm

What's the publication date on this Misfit? Looks older. I'd be quite interested to read it. I think Gellis can be quite hit and miss. Her first 4 Roselynde Chronicles were the high point I think.
I have some of the early Gellis Stephen and Matilda stuff which is quite entertaining. She has Roger Earl of Hereford marrying Elizabeth, the sister of the Earl of Chester in Knight's Honour, and makes a whole story about it, but in fact Roger of Hereford married the daughter of Payne FitzJohn of Ludlow.
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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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sun November 30th, 2008, 3:22 pm

EC, published in 1987. The first of the Roselynde books are definitely the best I've seen yet. The wedding night scene in this book is a bit disturbing and hard to get through, but after that the "standing man" bits were priceless and worth it just for that. I think 1/3 of the book just kind of fell apart, I think she realized how much Stephen/Matilda history she still had to get through to finish the story and it just plodded on and on and on.

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Post by EC2 » Sun November 30th, 2008, 3:34 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]EC, published in 1987. The first of the Roselynde books are definitely the best I've seen yet. The wedding night scene in this book is a bit disturbing and hard to get through, but after that the "standing man" bits were priceless and worth it just for that. I think 1/3 of the book just kind of fell apart, I think she realized how much Stephen/Matilda history she still had to get through to finish the story and it just plodded on and on and on.[/quote]

LOL! She has a way with the body bits doesn't she. Usually other than that her love scenes are very will written and you can believe that these are real people and not Barbie and Ken with moving parts. But yes, Stephen and Matilda are not easy to explain in a romantic historical. I think the name Melusine is a bit fanciful for a northern lass too. Sounds more like something one of John Marshal's ummmm.... court 'ladies' would cook up for herself.
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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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sun November 30th, 2008, 5:38 pm

EC, you are a fountain of information on all things medieval. As for the standing man bit, they were funny. I posted a few quotes on that thread we have about worst sexual terms.

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Post by Telynor » Tue December 2nd, 2008, 1:42 pm

Yep, the early Roselynde novels were certainly the best of the lot, and the most interesting. After that, things started to devolve into your standard historical romance. On names, that can really break the illusion for me -- I hate it when a writer gives a heroine such a glaringly modern name. On the other hand, an excursion through "The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Names" revealed some interesting names that were actually used in the medieval period.

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Post by EC2 » Tue December 2nd, 2008, 3:55 pm

[quote=""Telynor""]Yep, the early Roselynde novels were certainly the best of the lot, and the most interesting. After that, things started to devolve into your standard historical romance. On names, that can really break the illusion for me -- I hate it when a writer gives a heroine such a glaringly modern name. On the other hand, an excursion through "The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Names" revealed some interesting names that were actually used in the medieval period.[/quote]

If you go through medieval lists and charters and literature you find them too. The more fanciful ones - such as Melusine (which I guess comes from Melisande - who was a queen of Jerusalem in the 12thC) do tend to come from the literature. I guess it's like us getting names of soap star women from the TV.
Looking at the names of aristocratic women in a list from seal in the 12thC, there's a preponderance of Matildas, Alices, Agnes's, Isabelles and Margarets, and then suddenly you'll get an Ysoude, an Alexandria, a Eulalia, or Theophania (modern spelling Tiffany). Yup, they had Tiffany in the 12thc!!
No Britneys as far as I've read though!
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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Post by boswellbaxter » Tue December 2nd, 2008, 4:54 pm

[quote=""EC2""]
Looking at the names of aristocratic women in a list from seal in the 12thC, there's a preponderance of Matildas, Alices, Agnes's, Isabelles and Margarets, and then suddenly you'll get an Ysoude, an Alexandria, a Eulalia, or Theophania (modern spelling Tiffany). Yup, they had Tiffany in the 12thc!!
No Britneys as far as I've read though![/quote]

I have a historical novel set in the 14th century by Emily Sarah Holt, a Victorian novelist, where one of the narrators is referred to as "Dame Tiffany." I soon discovered that she was correct in giving her that name, but it certainly sounded odd!
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/
http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/blog/

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