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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Falls the Shadow - Sharon Kay Penman I really couldn't go wrong with this book - Plantagenets, Simon de Montfort, Welsh princes, romance, war, tragedy . . . and, of course, Penman. I feel like I don't even need to point out that Penman creates believable, well-developed characters while staying as historically accurate as possible. Everyone who has read any of her novels already knows that, right? In this particular novel Simon de Montfort is the main character expertly brought to life with a huge cast of supporting characters (Henry III, Edward, Simon's sons & wife . . .) who help draw you in to this turbulent time in England's history. (Has there been a time in England's history that was not turbulent?) I had been wanting to read more about Simon de Montfort since reading Thomas Costain's The Magnificent Century and this book was perfect! I will admit to some time of my eyes glazing over in about the middle of this with the back and forth between Simon & Henry, but this did not last long and was well worth it in the end. I made the unfortunate mistake of reading some of the end of this novel in public (while waiting for my car to be worked on) and was sniffling and rubbing my eyes hoping no one would notice what would have been outright sobbing had I been at home alone. The story of Simon and his family is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time, and no one could write it better than Penman. I found myself hoping that she would use her substantial skill to rewrite history and what I knew was supposed to happen would not be what happened. Then again, that is one of the things I admire about her - she does not create a happier, more acceptable, falsified ending. I cried for those who died and for those left to mourn for them. Congratulations, Sharon, you have once again made me cry for someone long dead who I knew when and where they had died! Before I forget, I should also mention that since this is #2 in the Welsh Princes trilogy we also have the continuation of the story of Llewelyn the Great's family through his sons and their sons. Though they are not the main focus, the family is followed enough to keep you up on what is going on in Wales until getting to #3 The Reckoning. You won't be disappointed - read this book!