Lionheart - Plantagenets, Bk 4 Author:Sharon Kay Penman They were called "The Devil's Brood," though never to their faces. They were the four surviving sons of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine. With two such extraordinary parents, much was expected of them. — But the eldest-charming yet mercurial - would turn on his father and, like his brother Geoffrey, meet an early death. Wh... more »en Henry died, Richard would take the throne and, almost immediately, set off for the Holy Land. This was the Third Crusade, and it would be characterized by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. And, back in England, by the conniving of Richard's youngest brother, John, to steal his crown.
In Lionheart, Sharon Kay Penman displays her remarkable mastery of historical detail and her acute understanding of human foibles. The result is a powerful story of intrigue, war, and- surprisingly-effective diplomacy, played out against the roiling conflicts of love and loyalty, passion and treachery, all set against the rich textures of the Holy Land.« less
A quote from Carlos Ruiz Zafón: "I think you have to be careful with research in fiction. I believe the best way to use it is to learn a lot yourself about what you're going to write, and then don't really use more than 1% of all the research you've done, at least visibly. ... the effective way to use research in fiction is to internalize it and embed its essence in the narrative fabric of the tale. Information only works in fiction when it plays a dramatic role. Often you read novels in which the author includes much of the research he's done... It could work in a journalistic context or in a nonfiction book, but in literature you need to find a way to incorporate it in the texture, the aesthetics, and the fabric of the world you're building for the reader from a purely narrative point, never as window dressing or as a display of erudition."
Sharon Kay Penman (and her fans) would doubtless disagree with everything Zafón says.
By her own admission, she loves adding "random details straight from the pages of [historical] chronicles" and she says "I tend to be obsessive-compulsive about research!"
The book is indeed excellently researched - but it feels more like reading a history text about Richard the Lionheart than a novel. It relates historic events in detail, even quoting from historical sources within the text. It frequently lists names of people who were present at certain occasions, for no dramatic reason, just because it's known, and one might find it interesting. It IS interesting. It's just not exciting.
I read all near-600 pages of this book, and didn't want to stop part-way through - but neither did I have any trouble putting the book down and doing something else for a while, at any point. I read a bunch of other books before getting around to finishing it.
It will definitely educate you on the circumstances surrounding the Third Crusade, and details of twelfth-century history. But the narrative lacks dramatic tension, even when the events being described are chock-full of drama! The characters didn't really come to life for me, as people. I feel that this is because Penman makes a conscious decision not to 'make up' too much stuff. But it also means that this isn't the sort of book I really prefer.
I got the book as part of the First Reads giveaway. I entered because I'd heard a lot of good things about Penman's books, and even actually own two of them that I'd been 'getting-around-to' reading. I'm sure there are many people out there who love her style of writing, but it's just not the style I most prefer.
This is another great tale from SKP -- well-drawn characters, a believable story and skillful combining of historical fact with credible fictional details join forces for a very engaging trip through Richard the Lionheart and his battles in the Crusades. The only negative is that some parts seemed to drag on a bit, but that reinforced the feeling of sheer boredom that the soldiers must have felt while killing time in the desert awaiting combat. Highly recommended for all fans of historical fiction. Note: This review was based on an ARC edition.
Bruce - reviewed Lionheart (Plantagenets, Bk 4) on
Helpful Score: 1
Great book about Richard the Lionheart and the Crusade to free Jerusalem from Saracen rule. Penman does impeccable research for her books. It took a while for the novel to take off but the payoff was worth the wait. Another great installment in Penman's tome about the Devil's Brood.
Lionheart the review for the book and for the audio book too.
I have read Lionheart twice and have just had the extreme pleasure of listening to it. Yes finally a Penman novel on audio. The Narrator Emily Grey does a fine job, and one of the things I like most about listening to a audio book is for the pronunciation of languages I am unfamiliar with.
Ms. Penmens works are dense and take concentration, the world often fades away as I read or in this case listen to her work, and when I am interrupted it takes time for me to come back to myself.
Lionheart is the 4th book in the Angevin saga that will end up spanning five books. The 5th book is also a bridge to her earlier work: Here be Dragons and the accompanying books collectively known as the Welsh trilogy. But all of Ms. Penmans books can stand alone. I am a devotee of Penmans work and have read and reread all of her books. She never ceases to amaze me with her skill; her writing is as close to perfection as one could ask. She is a novelist true but she offers characters so fully rendered, that at times you have to remember to tell yourself that besides the thorough research, the rest is supposition. She gets the psychology of the characters right, and their reactions to situations are so real that it is uncanny. She knows the history, customs, morals, the religion and the political climate of the time period, I feel very comfortable with her conclusions.
Richard I, has been a prisoner of propaganda for so long that it must have been a mammoth undertaking, separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Sharon Penman is one of the only people I can imagine trusting to do this. She shuns the salacious, and as in the case of Richards Queen Berengaria (about which very little is actually know) Sharon give an intelligent hypothesis of what she was like, going on the knowledge of the time period, customs, and practices of noble women in the last years of the 12th and early 13th centuries; and leaves us with a fully fleshed out believable character.
So whether you are like me and love to read whatever Ms. Penman writes, or you want a painstakingly researched and thoroughly readable history of the third crusade with a story to accompany the facts I cannot recommend Lionheart highly enough. 5 stars!
Enjoyed this one about Richard, his marriage and his crusade to help capture Jerusalem, deemed a failure by Richard himself and others of his time. However, I felt that this novel should have carried a different name since it covers primarily the crusade to capture Jerusalem. In addition, it focuses more on his courage and his love for war which overwhelms every other portion of his life. Certainly enjoyed his battle exploits! What a warrior! What an egotist according the author! His political finesse could have used some honing. Penman does a great job of making Richard human with all the foibles a man, never mind a king, might have. As I left the three quarter mark behind, however, I began to grow weary of the story. Nevertheless, it is a good read.