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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince - Rosanne E. Lortz The title of this book is somewhat misleading. "A Novel of the Black Prince" could just as accurately read "A Novel of Geoffroi de Charny" or "Story of a Chivalrous Knight." The story is not really about Edward of Woodstock and does not cover the entirety of his life, though he is a character. That being said, I did enjoy this novel and found John Potenhale to be a believable man of his times (mid 1300's). In fact, the historical accuracy of events, attitudes, and impact of Christian beliefs on people's behavior to be the most impressive aspects of this novel. I may not have learned all that I hoped about the Black Prince, but I did learn a fair amount about Charny which helped to make up for it. The author's excellent descriptions of the battles at Crecy and Poitiers also helped make this a 4-star book for me. The most significant thing keeping me from rating it even higher is the style of writing which at times takes away from the flow of the story. The writer occasionally uses words that seem to be chosen for their ability to demonstrate the author's impressive vocabulary rather than because they are best suited to the sentence. This I could overlook though, as I don't mind being forced to learn a new word now and then. The more awkward aspect of the writing was the narrative style. As I would be reading along, the story flows in a first person style until a phrase such as "your husband" or "as you must know" would jolt me out of the story and remind me that the entire book is supposedly a monologue being given by Potenhale to Charny's wife. Then the final chapter drops this style and goes to third person. In my opinion, a standard first person narrative would have better served the novel and avoided the strange reminders of how the story was being told. Despite these minor negatives, this is a compelling story that is definitely a worthwhile read for any lover of British history.