Historical fiction doesn’t get any better than this. I had to admit, when I heard this book was about King Richard the Lionheart’s crusade to wrest Jerusalem from the Saracens, I was skeptical as to how good this book could possibly be. I pictured nothing but boredom, marches and battles, with a lot of killing and maiming thrown in. What I found when I actually read the novel, was an amazing tale of heroism, political intrigue, back-stabbing, and yes, marches and battles with a lot of killing and maiming. However, Penman is so adept at describing the military events that the reader cannot help being totally engrossed. The story is so good, in fact, that I started to question whether it could actually be true. Never fear, as usual, Sharon Kay Penman is quite the stickler for historical accuracy. In her notes at the end of the book, she carefully explains any creative license she uses – and that is, of course, very little.
I also greatly enjoyed seeing Richard being played in a different light – more likeable, than past portrayals of the larger than life King. Again, Penman backs up her arguments with painstaking research. It is refreshing and exciting to discover something new about a man and events that happened so long ago.
Bravo to Ms. Penman, for another wonderful novel. I eagerly await the release of A King’s Ransom – her next and final foray into the world of Richard the Lionheart.
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2011