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Oh yes! The later books are still awesome, but I think Caesar is too perfect. I can't fault McCullough for her fangirl crush on him, though, when I have one for Sulla. ;-) The first 3 books are my favorites with Marius & Sulla, and the cocky Pompey. I still get a laugh out of his self-important "My men declared me Imperator on the field!" So perkily arrogant. I remember getting slapped down by my Roman History prof for saying I liked those books better than the Steve Saylor mysteries. She said McCullough got all the details wrong, even though the class was reading Livy at the time and I was finding all the stuff that McCullough had used. Whatev. The prof was friends with Saylor, so apparently some personal affront was taken. And lowly student that I was, I thought having an opinion was my right. LOL
Last Edited on: 9/23/09 1:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
That's ok, Genie. Sometimes books are that way. I was still so shocked when it all turned on its head at the end of section one, but if you didn't like it, you didn't like it, you know?
Swap it out without guilt!
Ariana Franklin has a fictional series set in England of the 1100's - King Henry II's era. There's only a small amount of royal involvement, so if that's what you're looking for this isn't it.
Here's the blurb from Mistress of the Art of Death:
In medieval Cambridge, four children have been murdered. The Catholic townsfolk blame their Jewish neighbors, so to save them from the rioting mob, the Cambridge Jews are placed under the protection of the king. King Henry II is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he believes in law and order, and he desperately needs the taxes he receives from Jewish merchants. Hoping scientific investigation will catch the true killer, Henry calls on his cousin, the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," the earliest form of medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno, an expert in the science of anatomy and the art of detection. But her name is Adelia; the king has been sent a "mistress of the art of death."
I really enjoyed the series written by Susan Carroll -
The Dark Queen -
She is Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle, one of the Cheney sisters, renowned for their mystical skills and for keeping the isle secure and prosperous. But this is a time when women of ability are deemed sorceresses, when Renaissance France is torn by ruthless political intrigues, and all are held in thrall to the sinister ambitions of Queen Catherine de Medici.
Then a wounded stranger arrives on Faire Isle, bearing a secret the Dark Queen will do everything in her power to possess. The only person Ariane can turn to is the comte de Renard, a nobleman with fiery determination and a past as mysterious as his own unusual gifts. Riveting, vibrant, and breathtaking, The Dark Queen follows Ariane and Renard as they risk everything to prevent the fulfillment of a dreadful prophecyÃÂeven if they must tempt fate and their own passions.
the Courtesan -
Skilled in passion, artful in deception, and driven by betrayal, she is the glittering center of the royal court -- but the most desired woman of Renaissance France will draw the wrath of a dangerous adversary.
Paris, 1575. The consort of some of Europe's most influential men, Gabrielle Cheney is determined to secure her future by winning the heart of Henry, the Huguenot king of Navarre. As his mistress, Gabrielle hopes she might one day become the power behind the French throne. But her plans are jeopardized by Captain Nicolas Remy, a devoted warrior whose love Gabrielle desires -- and fears -- above all. She will also incur the malevolence of the Dark Queen, Catherine de Medici, whose spies and witch-hunters are legion, and who will summon the black arts to maintain her authority. With the lives of those she loves in peril, Gabrielle must rebel against her queen to fulfill a glorious destiny she has sacrificed everything to gain.
Alive with vivid period detail and characters as vibrant as they are memorable, The Courtesan is a sweeping historical tale of dangerous intrigues, deep treachery, and one woman's unshakable resolve to honor her heart.
The Silver Rose -
From Brittany's fog-shrouded forests to the elegant dark heart of Paris's royal court, one woman must challenge a country's destiny-and her own dangerous fate. France, 1585. She is the youngest and most powerful of the "Sisters of Faire Isle," women known far and wide for their extraordinary mystical abilities. Skilled in healing and able to forecast the future of those around her, Miri Cheney has returned to her ancestral home to take refuge from a land devastated by civil war-and to grieve for her family, driven to exile. But she cannot hide from the formidable new power threatening to seize control of France from the dread "Dark Queen," Catherine de Medici-a diabolical woman known only as the Silver Rose. Miri has no choice but to turn to the one man she distrusts as much as she desires: Simon Aristide, the charismatic witch-finder who is now himself the hunted, and who has reluctantly made an unholy pact with Catherine. Miri must defy throne and family to save all that she loves most-and command a future greater than she could ever imagine. Vibrant with stunning historical detail, alive with characters as richly passionate as they are compelling, The Silver Rose is a sweeping, exquisitely wrought tale from a mesmerizing storyteller.
The Huntress -
In a time of intrigue and betrayal, the huntress is on a quest that could jeopardize two empires and two great queens: Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I.
The year is 1585 - and prophecy has foretold the coming of a daughter of the Earth whose powers are so extraordinary they could usurp the very rule of the Dark Queen herself, Catherine de Medici. Dispatched from Brittany to London, Catriona O'Hanlon, known as the Huntress, must find this mysterious young girl and shield her from those who will exploit her mystic abilities, which have the potential to change the course of history.
Catriona's skill with weaponry is all she has to protect herself and her young charge from spies who snake through the courts of Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, including the girl's own father, whose loyalties are stretched to the breaking point. But Catriona will soon face menacing forces and sinister plots unlike any she has ever encountered.
and there is an additional one I haven't read yet - Twilight of a Queen -
As war and treachery loom, an ambitious man's mission threatens to topple two dazzling realms and their formidable rulers: Catherine de Medici, the Dark Queen, and Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle.
It is 1588, and as the Spanish Armada prepares to besiege England, Paris balances on the brink of revolution. To maintain her grip on the throne and on the dark magic that has become her obsession, Catherine de Medici turns to Louis Xavier, a ruthless corsair who was schooled in the dark arts and has mastered piracy along the Spanish main. But Louis's basest instincts are held in check by the kindness of Lady Jane Danvers, a British exile whose innate sense of honor is but one facet of her complex and passionate nature. On Faire Isle, Ariane Cheney, unaware of the escalating threat from the Dark Queen, struggles with the task of protecting the daughters of the earth and their vast store of ancient magical wisdom. Weak and desperate for an advantage, the ailing Catherine makes a devil's bargain that will cast a shadow over all.