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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Banners of Gold - Pamela Kaufman I found this book at a garage sale and thought, "It's about King Richard, how could I go wrong?" Then I read many favorable reviews and felt that I had made a good find. I can only explain the difference between my own feelings and these encouraging reviews by saying that if these ladies liked the first novel in this trilogy it explains why they carried on and enjoyed this one. I did not read the first novel, which I do not believe took away anything from this one as the past between Alix and Richard is explained several times. Richard is really the only thing to like about this book with the possible exception of Bonel when he makes his appearances. Even Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is one of my favorite historical characters, is not likeable in this novel. What did I not like? It all started with the name "Alix" for our heroine - not very 13th century. It continued with her "fantastick cells" and "burning bedstraw." I just didn't like anything about this character. She goes through half of the book seeming to really dislike Richard, and I'm at a loss to explain why he seems to love her. Yet after a distasteful conversation with Tib about how all men supposedly have sex with other men, she decides she is madly in love with Richard. OK, I really don't follow that line of reasoning. Then we have lots of "love" between them and the story follows Alix whenever Richard leaves to do something historical and interesting. The ending with Richard's death was poignant and sad, due mostly to historical facts rather than the author's telling of it, but that's about as encouraging as I can be about this one. I advise you to skip this novel and pick up one by Sharon Kay Penman instead.