Here Be Dragons: a review

by Sharon Kay Penman

Remember when I read A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver and ended by saying that “I’d like to read a more thorough biography of Eleanor [of Aquitaine]”? Yes, well now I really want to read a biography. This book, the first of a trilogy ended up on my TBR list under circumstances I have now forgotten. I got it from inter-library loan and thought, “Oh, a big book! Ooh, Wales! Erm, paper to write.” So it got put on hold until Thursday, when I devoured all 700 pages in a day. Because, WALES! Twelfth century Wales! And Eleanor of Aquitaine made a fairly significant appearance, as did King John and his daughter Joanna.

I just read that paragraph and it makes everything sound very boring. It isn’t! It’s exciting, with battles and seiges, and it also has a nice bit of romance and personal struggles for the main characters (Llewellyn and Joanna). And it’s part of the wonderful tradition of historical fiction which takes a mostly-forgotten figure and brings them vividly to life.

Apparently Penman wrote a book about Richard III, which I will have to read. I love Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time and went and looked at Richard’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery. (I also love the National Portrait Gallery and would like to live there, thank you very much. But that’s a different story.) Anyway, Richard III as done by Penman sounds great, so yay!

Content advisory: This is definitely an adult book. That said, it is (as far as I can tell) pretty accurate historically.
Book source: Central Washington University


Filed under bookish posts, reviews

6 responses to “Here Be Dragons: a review

  1. ok, I give up, what’s your secret??? how do read 700 pages in a day? that’s amazing!

    • Maureen E

      Catherine! 🙂

      Well, I’m single. I live in a small apartment with a roommate who has a similar mess-tolerance. I’m an English major so I read a lot in general. And I read really fast. I pretty much always have–I never took a speed-reading course or anything. And a lot of the time I’ll read instead of doing something else (tv, cleaning up, homework….:)). I told my roommate recently that if I don’t read, I’ll go crazy, and that’s pretty close to the truth.

  2. mimima

    OOooh, I love Sharon Kay Penman. The sequel to “Dragons” has the most romantic line I have EVER read in my life. And, I highly recommend “Sunne in Splendor” And, her trilogy that starts with Maude and Stephen in “When Christ and his Saints Slept” goes on to feature Eleanor and Henry in the next two – “Time and Chance” and “Devil’s Brood”

    A note, though, I think that her third book in her trilogies are the weakest of the three both times.

    And, she blogs

    • Maureen E

      Hi! Thanks for the comment. 🙂 I really enjoyed the book and her writing style, so I’m looking forward to reading the rest of them. Although if they’re all as thick as the first book, they’ll keep me busy for awhile!

      • Mimi

        They are, and enjoy!
        Let me know what you think.
        She also writes mysteries (the Justin deQuincy series) – I’ve only read the first one, it was ok. It wasn’t the absorbing, fantastic HF that her other books are.

  3. Pingback: March reading list « By Singing Light

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