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Topic: Need help with a personal project

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Bruce -
Subject: Need help with a personal project
Date Posted: 2/15/2012 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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If you feel so inclined. For whatever reason, I really like HF involving the British monarchy but I've never really studied the topic. I've just read books, all out of order and never really put everything into sequential order. So now I must. I've got a list of British monarchs starting with Cerdic of Wessex and ending with Elizabeth II. The Saxon period is not well documented so the list HF novels available is spotty, not much is known about many of the Saxon era kings. I've already read "The Conscience of the King" by Alfred Duggan which is about Cerdic, the first of the kings. But I think it will be much easier finding HF novels after the Norman conquest. Anyway, I've been working on it today but I have to go to work and will be working 12 hour shifts for a few days. Below is the list of monarchs and books about them I have already compiled.

What I'm looking for are books that focus as much as possible on the kings/queens themselves, not really interested in "period" books. Also not interested in historical romance. It is not imperative that the main character actually be the king/queen, but they must be heavily involved in the story and the story should give a history of the reign. The story of a village milkmaid that falls in love with a knight serving army of Henry III is not what I am looking for. But a novel about a close advisor to a king would probably suffice. I'm not asking you to start digging and researching books for me but if you have read a great novel that you think will meet my needs, I will appreciate the recommendation. I am already planning to add all appropriate SKP books to my list (I just ran out of time today) so you may skip recommending those. My goal is to read the history of the British monarchy, HF or biographical fiction form, in sequential order. It'll probably be difficult to find anything in HF format beyond Queen Victoria but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I might have to resort to non-fiction biography, not my favorite. But anything you can suggest will be highly appreciated.

Cerdic  House of Wessex The Conscience of the King Alfred Duggan-complete
Ceawlin/Ceaulin/Caelin  Born of the Sun Joan Wolf
Aethelred I
Alfred the Great  The Dragon and the Raven G.A. Henty, The Edge of Light Joan Wolf
Edward the Elder
Aethelstan The Raven and the Wolf Christopher Spellman/ Land of Fire #2 Christopher Spellman
Edgar the Peaceable
Edward the Martyr
Aethelred the UnreadyAethelred II The Forever Queen Helen Hollick (alt: A Hollow Crown)
Edmond Ironside/Edmund II Shieldwall Justin Hill
Cnut the Great
Harold Harefoot/Harold I
Edward the Confessor The Cunning of the Dove Alfred Duggan
Harold II (End of House of Wessex) The Wind From Hastings Morgan Llewelyn/ Lord of Sunset Parke Godwin/ Harold the King Helen Hollick/ The Last English King Julian Rathbone/ I am the Chosen King Helen Hollick
William I/William the Conqueror  The Conqueror Georgette Heyer
William II King of the Wood Valerie Anand/ Flambard's Confession Marilyn Durham/
Henry I
Stephen House of Blois When Christ and His Saints Slept SKP
Matilda/Maude Lady of the English Elizabeth Chadwick/ The Oath and the Sword Graham Shelby
Henry II  House of Plantagenet Time and Chance SKP, The Devil's Brood SKP
Richard I/Richard the Lionheart Lionheart SKP
John Here Be Dragons SKP

Henry III Falls the Shadow SKP/ The Reckoning SKP
Edward I
Edward II Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II Paul Doherty
Edward III
Richard II Within the Hollow Crown Margaret Campbell Barnes
Henry IV House of Lancaster
Henry V  Good King Harry Denise Giardina
Henry VI
Edward IV  House of York
Henry VI  House of Lancaster
Edward IV  House of York
Edward V The Sunne In Slendour SKP-complete
Richard III  The Lodestar Pamela Belle
Henry VII  House of Tudor
Henry VIII
Edward VI
Elizabeth I
James I House of Stuart
Charles I
Charles II
James II
William III/William and Mary  
George I  House of Hanover
George II
George III
George IV
William IV
Edward VII  House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
George V  House of Windsor
Edward VIII
George VI
Elizabeth II

On my wish list in green (this is going to be harder than I thought)

Last Edited on: 5/8/12 8:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 2/15/2012 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,585
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Bruce:  What about  When Christ and his Saints Slept by SKP for Steven of Blois, Matilda and early Henry II?

Date Posted: 2/15/2012 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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Bruce, it has been a few years but Valerie Anand's Gildenford trilogy covers Harold Godwinsson (actually a bit before that) through the Norman Comquest. You'll get focuses on Harold as well as William.

Mary Lide has one on William, Fortune's Knave, but I found it rather dry and only so-so.

Cnut and Harefoot do come up in Hollick's Forever Queen.

Susan Higginbotham wrote about Edward II in The Traitor's Wife.

The Richard III group at Goodreads has a rather good bookshelf to browse, thanks to the efforts of Susan H, Brian Wainwright and others.

Speaking of Brian Wainwright, I would recommend Within the Fetterlock for Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke. His Adventures of Alianore Audley is a hilarious spin off of the Wars of the Roses.

These are hard to find, although the prices seem to have stabilized but I think you might want to look at Carol Wensby Scott's Alnwick trilogy. The main focus is the Percy family, but they're definitely in the thick of things with whoever is sitting on the throne. Edward III through Bosworth field. The books are Lion of Alnwick, Lion Dormant and Lion Invincible. Hint on finding a better price, key in the exact title on Amazon and look at them all. Amazon hasn't combined all the listings/editions and the prices vary a great deal. Very good reads, but not for a first timer wading into the muddy waters of the Wars of the Roses. You've read Penman's take so you're probably OK. If you find any copy under $1 I'd snap it up. US libraries don't have these to the best of my knowledge.


Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/15/2012 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Ann Dukthas (Paul Doherty) wrote the Nicholas Segala mysteries which usually deal with monarchies. His first is about Mary Queen of Scots and his second dealt with Marie Antoinette. THe Third is about the Habsburgs and the fourth called In the Time of the Poisoned Queen which is about the English Queen Mary in 1558. The books are all great, but only the one truly deals with a British Monarch.


Last Edited on: 2/15/12 8:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/15/2012 9:06 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 1,900
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For Henry VIII:  The Autobiography of Henry VIII with notes by his fool Will Somers by Margaret George.

For Elizabeth I: Elizabeth I by Margaret George covers the latter half of her reign and was really good.  I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles covers the whole reign.  I've also heard Margaret Irwin's trilogy on her is good an also Legacy by Susan Kay.

For Queen Victoria: Victoria Victorious by Jean Plaidy and she also has a 4 book series about Victoria's reign (I've read the first two and enjoyed them).

Also check out Jean Plaidy who covers the Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, and Georgians. Here is a site w/descriptions for all of her books: http://jeanplaidy.tripod.com/id18.htm

Some are really good, some are really dry, and some are meh.



Date Posted: 2/15/2012 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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For Ceawlin:  Born of the Sun, by Joan Wolf - great novel.


Date Posted: 2/15/2012 9:50 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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I second Lind's rec on Born of the Son. What an awesome read, and THE book that got me reading historical fiction a few years ago. I've never looked back.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 9:45 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Definitely Edge of the Sun.  I likd it the best of Wolf's medieval books, and I loved them all. :)

Have you read Elizabeth Chadwick?  Her latest Lady of the English is about Matilda.  She's adequately covered with Penman's When Christ and His Saints Slept, but it's a great read, and focuses more directly on Matilda


Last Edited on: 2/16/12 9:49 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 12:40 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
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Wow that is one ambitious reading project!  I anticipate the pre-Norman Conquest books to be a real challenge to find.  For the monarchs from William the Conqueror on, if you search for Jean Plaidy's backlist you should find at least one novel for each monarch.

Bruce -
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'll start with William the Conqueror, I can research the Saxon kings without reading HF novels. I did notice that Jean Plaidy pretty much covers everything but I wasn't sure if her books were romance books or not. On amazon, the ratings for her books vary widely so I'm a little hesitant about her but I'll definitely consider her books. Availability is going to be the main obstacle but hunting for the books at yard/book sales will be half the fun.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 3:23 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Cnut and Harefoot do come up in Hollick's Forever Queen.

Isn't this one also about Emma or am I mixing this up?

Bruce, I have tagged several novels by the kings' or queens' names. Here's a link to my tags. I can't promise that the king or queen is a prominent figure in the book, but for many of them s/he will be.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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Bruce, this came up in another forum I participate in. The suggestions there might be of help in your search.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 4:23 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,178
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Genie, The Forever Queen, is the U.S. title for The Hollow Crown.  These are about Emma.

Bruce -
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 7:49 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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Great link, Cathy.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
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King of the Wood by Valerie Anand for William Rufus & Henry of the High Rock by Juliet Dymoke for his brother Henry I.

Date Posted: 2/16/2012 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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Bruce, King of the Wood is very good, but there are some tie ins with Anand's Gildenford books. It can be read as a stand alone, but I think it might be appreciated more if one had read the other books first.

Date Posted: 2/17/2012 1:50 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Bruce, The Reckoning has everything to do with Edward I.

Have you looked at the web site?

Date Posted: 2/19/2012 9:05 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,727
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Bruce, you're a madman!

I"ve often thought of this project myself, but I became overwhelmed. I started thinking, "Why stop with England?  What about Ireland, Wales, Scotland? Hey, what about Rome and Greece?" And I lost my mind right about then, I think. ;)  I wish you luck!  You've had lots of good suggestions.  

I see you have Graham Shelby's The Oath and the Sword.  He also wrote a novel about John, The Devil is Loose.  I enjoyed both when I read them years ago.

I grabbed a novel out of the FOL book sale, Myself as Witness, by James Goldman.  Again, this one is about John.  Goldman wrote The Lion in Winter.

I agree that Jean Plaidy will fill in many gaps in your list!  

ETA: Oh, you need to read Cornwell's Saxon Chronicles for Alfred the Great's era!  Uhtred will introduce you to many of those players. ;)

Last Edited on: 2/19/12 9:06 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/20/2012 4:05 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales include a great deal about Alfred the Great

Bruce -
Date Posted: 2/20/2012 8:26 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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Thank you for all the great suggestions. I have read the Saxon Tales and haveDeath of Kings on my list. Great series. I think reading all these books in sequential order is going to be too tall of a mountain. Either I wait years to collect them all through PBS or I spent a fortune buying them. So maybe I'll just read them as I get them. I can always do some personal research on what is happening around the events depicted in the book so I'll have some historical perspective. Sounds like a winner. Thanks again.

Last Edited on: 2/20/12 9:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/21/2012 8:13 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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Bruce, maybe a book like this: The Kings and Queens of England (which I got here, incidentally) would be a good choice for your project. I've found it really helpful when I need just the basics about a monarch's reign, family, and the political highlights of his time on the throne.  I like this particular one very much, but I'm sure there are others just as nice.  The only drawback: it starts with Alfred the Great.

Date Posted: 2/21/2012 8:20 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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What about starting a timeline with your notes in it, as you set about reading all of these titles? That might help you organize and memorialize the info, plus at the end you'll end up with a real accomplishment that you can refer to for ever--you might even be able to publish it. I think your project is quite neat, and would love to have something like a timeline at hand as I read HF books--sort of like the mother of all guides that are often included at the beginning of a book!

Date Posted: 3/24/2012 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2008
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I notice you haven't included the disputed 9-day reign of Lady Jane Grey (between Edward VI and Mary of the Tudor line).  Historian Alison Weir has started writing HF, including a novel of Lady Jane called Innocent Traitor.  I thought it was excellent and very historically accurate.  She also has one about Elizabeth I called The Lady Elizabeth

BTW, if you're also interested in history (nonfiction), the same author (Allison Weir) has written many books on the Tudor kings and queens that are very readable and fascinating.

Good luck with your big project!

Date Posted: 3/30/2012 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,438
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Aethelred the UnreadyAethelred II The Forever Queen Helen Hollick (alt: A Hollow Crown)
Edmond Ironside/Edmund II Shieldwall Justin Hill
Cnut the Great
Harold Harefoot/Harold I
Edward the Confessor The Cunning of the Dove Alfred Duggan 
Harold II (End of House of Wessex) The Wind From Hastings Morgan Llewelyn/ Lord of Sunset Parke Godwin/ Harold the King Helen Hollick/ The Last English King Julian RathboneI am the Chosen King Helen Hollick



This is such a worthy project & I applaud you! Linda & I started something similar several years ago - but far more general in scope. Hats off to you Sir, for compiling a list that - as soon as it's done - we will all want a copy of!

I just finished a book that covers the same timeframe as the monarchs listed above - Warriors of the Dragon Gold, by Ray Bryant. I wrote up a few comments about it and am happy to offer it to you first if you are interested in it. 




Date Posted: 3/30/2012 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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If you are going to include Jane Grey, I'd suggest Susan Higginbotham's Her Highness the Traitor. It isn't quite out yet, but it looks like you have time before you get to that century.