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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


You can also find me on my blog.

Historical Novel Society

Here be Dragons  - Sharon Kay Penman I am never disappointed in a book by Sharon Kay Penman! She recreates historical people so skillfully that by the end of her novels I am sure that must be exactly how they truly behaved. She develops such a full, realistic personality for each character, no one is altogether good or completely evil, which of course is true for all of us. In this particular novel, she has given us Joanna (King John's illegitimate daughter) and Llewellyn the Great. We see their relationship grow and change through their marriage, wars, John's escapades, difficulty between their children, and they just come across as so real. This novel covers the reign of King John and while it would have been easy to demonize him, Penman balances the evil, which there was plenty of, with John's good attributes such as his love for his children. Throughout the novel Joanna struggles with reconciling the father she loves with the cruel King she hears about. I have said it before but it deserves repeating - Penman's attention to detail and keeping everything as factual as possible is one of the greatest things about her. She does not toss aside what is known to be true for a different plotline. She understands that there is not much of a way to make Plantagenet history more interesting than it already is!