Friday, December 1, 2023

Sharon Kay Penman’s LIONHEART – Superb Storytelling brings the King Richard’s Crusade to Life

Set in the 12th century, this begins as the story of Alicia, whose brother, a Templar Knight, is killed in a boating accident on the way to the Holy Land. But Joanna, wife of William de Hauteville, King of Sicily, takes her to Palermo where Alicia thrives under Joanna’s care and the Sicilian sun. And, from there, they join the Crusade led by Joanna’s brother, Richard.


Richard, called the Lionheart, the eldest son of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine, is a larger than life character as he leads the Third Crusade to free Jerusalem. Penman does a superb job of showing us this man who men followed without question, whose courage led him into the fray time and time again. And she shows us all the disagreements among the Christians and the French king’s betrayal in the campaign against the Saracens.


It’s a very exciting and complex story that will draw you in. Based on much research with incredible detail, historical fiction lovers will revel in it. There is also a love story as King Richard marries and takes his new wife and his sister with him to the Holy Land. So there is a woman’s perspective contributing to the story. I loved it so much I then began to read the next in the series, A King’s Ransom.


Highly recommended.


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