Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Review: Virginia Henley’s THE FALCON AND THE FLOWER – A Great Medieval Romance

The first in Henley’s Plantagenet trilogy (The Falcon and the Flower, The Dragon and the Jewel and The Marriage Prize), this story is set in the late 12th century, beginning in 1199 just as King Richard I (“the Lion Heart”) is slain in France and his youngest brother, John (the runt of the Plantagenet litter), takes the throne of England.

Jasmine, the sheltered love child of King Richard's half brother, the Earl of Salisbury, has been raised by her maternal grandmother who is a “white witch” and hates men. A delicate flower physically, Jasmine has vowed that no man will ever rule her heart. One day she sees the face of a dark knight in her crystal ball, and later, encountering him at Stonehenge, thinks he’s the Devil. When her father betroths her to the same knight, Falcon de Burgh, she hopes to resist the marriage.

In a bargain with Falcon, she is allowed to be lady in waiting to the young Queen Isabella. It is there that King John takes a fancy to Jasmine, coveting her maidenhood for himself. His plan is to wed her to one of his noblemen and then take his pleasure as he does with the other ladies at court. But Falcon will come to her rescue and force her to wed him for her protection.

This story kept me reading late into the night. There are many twists and turns and both Jasmine and Falcon treat each other badly as they resist the call of true love. As always, Henley masterfully weaves in history as she serves up a lusty tale with wonderful characters. I recommend it.

If you like to read books in date order, here is the Plantagenet trilogy with the other books Henley wrote about the same time (though some are outside the medieval period) in chronological order:

The Falcon and the Flower (1989) – late 12th century/early 13th
The Dragon and the Jewel (1991) – 13th century
The Marriage Prize (2000) – 13th century
The Raven and the Rose (1987) – 15th century
The Hawk and the Dove (1988) – 16th century
The Pirate and the Pagan (1990) – 17th century

And, if you want Scotland’s side of the story, you can read her wonderful Kennedy Clan books, both set in the 16th century after the events of The Raven and The Rose:

Tempted (1992)
The Border Hostage (2001)

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