Sharon Kay Penman has written some six historical novels and two medieval mysteries.
Now comes "Dragon's Lair" and Penman is, once again, on top of her form. Once more, she delves
into the intricacies, the mysteries, the intrigues of 12th century England. Richard the Lionheart has
been captured and is held in prison awaiting the proper ransom. His brother John, meanwhile, is
comfortably at home in England, continuing to conspire to grab the throne. Naturally, it is in his
interest for Richard not to come home.
But a major obstacle to him is their mother, the dowager Queen, the inestimable and
inimitable Eleanor of Aquataine, who begins proceedings to pay the ransom and get her favorite
back home. A ransom payment is made but, alas, the money gets highjacked; it disappears. Lucky
for Eleanor, her "agent," Justin de Quincy is called in to help. (We've met de Quincy in an earlier
Penman, "The Queen's Man.")
Soon after, there is another complication: a murder. De Quincy
sets about, determined to aid his Queen and to solve the murder. Penman makes "Dragon's Lair"
one of her most suspenseful reads, complex, mesmerizing, well-researched. Her abilitiy to make
fictional characters from historical eras come alive, at once convincing and intriguing, is an aspect
that makes her one of the best around in this genre.
The style of writing is solid and moves along at
a nice gait, galloping steadfastly toward the finish line--it's a race against time for the characters;
alas, the end comes much too quickly for the reader. (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)