I finally understand all the buzz about this trilogy being one of the Historical Fiction genre's first and best classics---SKP sets the standard for good, accurate, historical novels. There is something in Here Be Dragons for everyone--great story (true, actually), great character development and placement in their own time with vivid details of the lives they would have led, a nice but not sappy love story, and lots of war and battles. Beware--if you read this one, you will immediately want to read the remaining two of the trilogy! Any HF fan must read this trilogy. It's on my keeper shelf.
Don't let the length of this novel deter you; despite its 700+ pages, it is quite readable. Sharon Kay Penman is an excellent historical novelist. She does a great job of evoking 13th century England and Wales. The story of Joanna and Llewelyn, based in history, is fascinating and holds the reader's attention. I look forward to reading mroe of Penman's work.
Becca L. reviewed Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 2
Excellent storytelling with historical integrity. This book is set in 13th century England and Wales under King John, and is based on the true story of his daughter Joanna and the Welsh prince Llewelyn. An intriguing read.
This book has everything, action, adventure, romance, history, and humor. Incredibly researched and as juicy as a soap opera. The biggest plot twist shocked me in that it was the real historical outcome not just the author's fancy. All of Ms. Penman's book are excellent but this is the best.
Jolyn V. reviewed Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
I cannot say enough good things about this book or author. This is historical fiction for people who are sticklers about historical accuracy. Don't let that fool you though, the book is a fascinating read. Penman does an excellent job at fleshing out characters who have been dead for hundreds of years. The action and intrigue never cease. The love triangle has an unusual and refreshing twist. The only regrets that you will have about this book will be finishing it.
This book is an excellently-written historical fiction about England and Wales in the early 13th century. It is amazingly detailed and full of love, intrigue and politics. There are many characters and storylines and she weaves them together very well.
My only complaint with this book is that sometimes I got lost in some descriptions of the political intrigues because it was hard to keep the many characters straight. But don't let that scare you away from a truely excellent read!
This was an excellent read that kept me turning the hundreds of pages eagerly. The story of Llewellyn Ab Iowerth, Prince of Gwynedd in Wales, and his wife Joanna, is told with so much depth. The historical detail was incredible even if it seemed that the English (Norman and/or Saxon) and Welsh were warring every few pages. That's the way it was.
This is my first read that gave so much information about King John, Joanna's father. I found myself detesting the man he must have been. No one could trust him! His cruelty and the ability to dissociate himself with his horrible acts were unbelievable. Yes, he loved Joanna but he did not even tell her the truth.
I liked Llewellyn and Joanna as Penman depicted them. In spite of their marriage being a political move they obviously grew to love each other deeply. I did feel that the author became a bit too mushy in the last hundred pages but perhaps she, too, had to find a way to end such a long book on a tender note. It's historical, romantic, full of battle after battle and intriguing.
A very interesting book, well written and historically accurate to this particular time in history. People who enjoy historical novels that stay true to the actual history will love this book. The story is an interesting one in regards to Wales trying to regain their independence. I'd only ever read about Scotland so this was new territory for me. The love story between the two main characters felt real--everything but the affair for some reason.
This is a great story that really pulls you into the 12th and 13th century Wales. There are a lot of characters in the beginning of this book, but keep reading and they will all cross paths. There is a lot of political upheaval, intrigue, deception and fighting in and among royal families of modern day Wales, England and France. The country lines were not that defined in those days and there were constant battles to keep possession of castles and the lands they controlled.
The four male sons of Henry, King of England are constantly fighting for their right to the crown. Richard, the Lion Hearted, is constantly at war with surrounding lands and his own brothers. Meanwhile, Llewelyn, a Prince of Wales is fighting his uncle for possession of Welsh lands. The Welsh and English distrust each other; however they make alliances with each other and the King of France in order to raise armies and survive.
Upon Richards death, John is crowned King of England. It is customary for royalty to promise their children in marriage to competing royalty in order to forge bonds and gain power. Joanna, an illegitimate daughter of King John is offered in marriage to Llewelyn, Prince of Wales in hopes of curtailing the Welsh fighting the English.
Joanna is a young, protected 14 year old girl and is afraid of marrying a Welshman and moving far from her home in a strange land with people who do not speak her language. She eventually falls in love with her husband and then is torn between her two loves, her father John, King of England and her husband, Llewelyn, Prince of Wales. John and Llewelyn are constantly at battle with one another over lands and power.
This is a fantastic book which fills in the limited history of 12th and 13th century England, Wales and France in a very believable and engaging way. I did not want to put the book down and I am looking forward to reading the next book in this trilogy. This is a genuine 5 star read.