A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen...
In 1002, 15-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.
Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.
Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces listeners to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern listeners.
©2013 Patricia Bracewell (P)2013 Penguin Audiobooks
I absolutely loved this book. It was beautifully crafted and is a excellent listen. Since there weren't many reviews for this book I thought I would throw in my two cents.
There are a lot of things that I really enjoyed about this book and that brought it all together for me. One of them was that we got the story from the perspective of different characters; we got to know what they were thinking about, what was going on, and what they thought about all of the other characters in the book. Sometimes I have issues with the way authors make multiple perspectives flow, but Bracewell was able to transition fluidly to each character while still giving them a distinct personality.
Like I said above I thought all of the characters in the book were very well developed. I took a personal interest in each of the characters and the situation they found themselves in. I thought she did a realistic job of portraying what could have been going through Emma’s head and the decisions she had to make. In my opinion she didn’t fall into one of the greatest pitfalls that authors with female characters make by giving Emma an unrealistically strong personality that makes her everyone’s savior or make her weak and needy. Athelstan was also wonderfully written (and probably my favorite character) because of his struggle between doing his “fate” and what he wanted for himself all while trying to do what was right for his family. I could go on and on about what I loved about each character but that would take too long.
They storyline was very engaging and although I am not an expert on England’s history it seemed pretty accurate from what I know about the time period. There isn’t too much I can really say about the storyline without giving away the book, but I can say that my biggest disappointment about this book is that it is a trilogy… I want to know what happens!
I don't typically listen to historical fiction, but I thought I would give this book a try since Patricia Bracewell and I go to the same tennis club. I have never met her so be assured that I am not writing this review because I am a friend. I am not her friend (I am sure she is very nice woman, but like I said I just have never met her). The only reason why I got this book is because she was going to be doing a book talk/signing at the club and there was a poster for it at the entry. I thought that it was really great that someone from the club published a book so I decided to take a listen. I wasn't really expecting much since this isn't the kind of book I normally go for, but it was absolutely wonderful. I have already listened to this book twice.
For me? Definitely. That may not be the case for all maybe.
The chase with the King of Denmark for action! Emma's challenges at court for character!
“Margot” ! I was deeply touched by the way Margot becomes the embodiment and extension of the voice and hands of Emma’s mother. When Emma doesn’t know what to do, her "voice" is there. When Emma would give up in the midst of stormy seas, her "voice" is there. It’s the voice of her mother.
Bravo Katie! Great job reading this with the pronunciations and inflections! I hope you are there when the next book comes out!
This book has sex.
Interesting fictionalized presentation of the politics of post-Alfred (and pre-Norman) England. This is a time period of which I have read little historical fiction, but I would like to hear more. Details of daily life (especially for nobles) seem to be portrayed well. There is enough suspense, some gore, no gratuitous sex. It gives a pretty good sense of what it must have been like to live under the shadow of fear of Viking raids. Aethelred "Unred" Is shown as waffling and increasingly mentally unstable; but the story also gives a good feeling for what it must be like to hold power in a world where power-grabbers abound, and the way to power is violence. The way to power for women, make no mistake, is in relation to a man, and there is little enough even then. Overall, although not outstanding, I found it entertaining and somewhat informative. My main complaint is that it ends abruptly, and the next story is not yet available..
What stood out most was character development, most notable Ethelred; while not being a necessarily wise king, he is at least shown as one of action, which does not necessarily hold with the historical characterization. The spectre of Edward haunting him and prompting him to act was a really interesting dynamic, and also to a degree explains why Edward (who will ultimately become Saint Edward the Confessor) was named as heir above the older Aethelings--typically Emma is blamed for that.
The change in character perspective was really nice to see, and the point-of-view of more minor characters was really interesting also. The only complaint I have is about the story or plot is the romance between Emma and Ethelstan. It's a bit contrived and predicable; I read a fair amount of historical fiction (much of it involving royalty), and it's a plot point in two out of three.
The narrator was great. A strong and steady voice, and inflection was such that no superfluous accents were necessary. I would listen to more narrated by Katie Firth.
and a penny for your thoughts
Narration is always a big factor for me and Katie Firth does not disappoint. I like how she quotes from accepted historical documents and then fills in the blanks using her research to paint a picture of life as it was then. I learn more about history than dates and times. I get a sense of the people, how they lived and what they lived through during those times. It helps understand and remember who's who during the complicated Viking/Saxon period of history
Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory only because both women seem to be cut from the same cloth. Practical yet sentimental, survivors ahead of their time in more ways than one. Women who went against convention, listened to their intuition,
Katie Firth is terrific. I'm fairly new to her narration but will certainly look for her books in the future.
The most memorable character was Queen Emma's eldest step-son. The only name I can remember is Queen Emma's. The others are too complicated to remember without the book in front of me. I need flash cards.
PLEASE HURRY with Books 2 and 3 ! I didn't realize it was a trilogy when I started and was so disappointed to be left hanging. My history books tell me how it turns out but your story is so compelling, I'm having withdrawal.
I really enjoyed this book. Katie Firth gave a great performance and the story was inviting and kept me interested.
I really enjoyed listening to this story in the era of Normans, Danes and England in the years from 1001 - 1004. I couldn't stop listening to it once I started. I just came back to see if there was a sequel because of the abrupt ending and didn't find any other books by this author. I'm hoping she has one in the works! The narrator did an excellent job. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical novels or who just loves a good read with a bit of mystery and intrigue!
Yes I enjoyed the narrators voice
Emma. This the 2nd book about her I have read. She is a remarkable woman who takes controls and plays a part in her own destiny during a time so few women could
I like it so much I listened twice!
The idea was interesting and I like the ties to Queen Emma's true history. However, it's a bit shallow and at times I felt like I was plodding along just trying to find out what happens in the end. I'm hooked enough to complete the trilogy, but wouldn't rank it among my favorites.
Mother of teenaged bear, Wife to chaos, Warrior
I got through this book with limited distracted reading. The plot was good the voice was good but I was confused by the numerous characters and players.
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