Book review: The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell
review by Becky
The Price of Blood
The second book in Bracewell's outstanding Emma of Normandy series, set in 11-century England, when Vikings are on the brink of invasion. 1006 AD. Queen Emma, the Norman bride of England's King Aethelred, has given birth to a son. Now her place as second wife to the king is safe and Edward marked as heir to the throne. But ....
Available on Amazon.com: The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy)
I was one very lucky fan and reader to meet Patricia at Gladstone's Library in Wales for a day-long writing workshop and she very graciously gave me an ARC of Price of Blood for a priveledged and honest review. Alas I was very naughty and had the book shut away with other books during our house move but, now, a week away from her UK release, I finally got my hands on it and gorged my eyes and imagination on it. Finishing it in 3 days! And here, at long last, is my review:
WOW! In the first book as a reader (and doubly so if you're a woman) you truly feel for Emma as she adjusts to being a Wife to a horrid old man as well as learning how to be a successful Queen in a foreign country. In Price of Blood, now that Emma has succeeded in satisfying Ethelread in at least providing a son, we watch her constant struggle to remain part of the ruling of the Kingdom but sadly she is a bold woman in a world where women are meant only for childbirth or marrying off to forge alliances.
In that aspect she is similar to Algiva who faces her own much more traumatic struggle to gain independence despite her Father's plans for her.
Where Emma uses knowledge, wealth and understanding of her people's plight to try and achieve some power as well as maintain her status and position as Queen. Algiva is a masterful manipulator of men - we saw her try and seduce her own brother in the first book well in this one she actually finds a man worthy of her attention, a prince no less, Cnut Sweinsson of Denmark. A Viking of royal blood. *I must admitt at this point to being incredibly jealous of Algiva for this version of Cnut is as dreamy as Athelstan*
This book is full of drama both internal and external. For the court is full of feuds, suspicions and men hungry for power, eager to gain the ear of the King for their own purposes. The King is still stubbornly haunted by his dead brother just like Athelstan *dreamy sigh* is still battling even more fiercly with the doomful prophecy the wise woman of the stones told him as well as the ever constant paranoia of his father towards him which reaches new depths and extremes throughout the book. The political division between North and South is another concern for ruling the kingdom and scarily mirrors the unfortunate void that occurs between Emma and her son Edward. On top of all this the viking armies are back led by Swein, Cnut, Thorkell and Hemming and they destroy many towns and cities for many a year whilst the King avoids conflict and tries to repeatedly buy peace.
There is a strong theme of the power of the mother in this book as both Emma and Algiva try to do what is expect of them - produce sons - all the whilst learning what it means to be a mother and of course Emma represents the best kind and Algiva the type of looks upon her children as a means to an end, and not a gift of any kind.
The book grips you from the first page and each chapter dramatically builds into the next without pause. The snippets of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle between each part act as even more incentive to turn the page, almost like giving the reader a newspaper headline where they must immediately read on to learn more details. It is a very excellent read and superbly written with beautifully crafted descriptions that really capture the mood and atmosphere of each scene and the language spoken and unspoken of each character is often delicious to the imagination.
If you like royal intrigue, battles, love triangles, secrets, power struggles, ghosts and of course strong women characters both good and bad, oh and can tolerate some history, than you must buy this book, especially if you read and loved the first. And if you haven't read the first book I demand you too! ( Becky has a review of that book too)
A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen
In 1002, fifteen-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.
Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.
Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the perfect antidote to Tudor fatigue, Shadow on the Crown is packed with nonstop action, romance, and plenty of deliciously creepy Gothic flavor.
Available on Amazon.com: Shadow on the Crown: A Novel
Want to learn more about this amazing woman? We have another review right here.
Queen Emma and the Vikings
by Harriet O'Brien
Want to adventure throught the lands of the Vikings? The height of the Vikings is an amazing period of time and there is a lot of great fiction that is based on historical facts from that period and place. Rebecca Wilson has written a guide to the genre and to some of the best works in the genre.
If you are fascinated by the subject of Vikings you should check out her blog at: http://www.soulchaserbecky.blogspot.com/
You can follow her on Twitter @soulchaserbecky.
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