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Lionheart Hardcover – 29 Mar 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (29 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230764789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230764781
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an American of Irish-English-Welsh heritage, and I currently live in New Jersey, although many of my readers imagine I am happily dwelling upon a Welsh mountaintop--but no such luck. I was once a tax lawyer, which I looked upon as penance for my sins. Like most writers, I was born with a love of the written word, although I never expected to be able to support myself as a writer; when you read about starving artists in their garrets, most of them have starving writers as roommates. But I was very lucky and I have been blessed to make my living as a writer for the past twenty-seven years or so. All of my novels--eleven at last count--are set in the Middle Ages, and focus upon England's most colorful dynasty, the Plantagenets. It is almost as if they lived their dramatic and often wildly improbable lives with future historical novelists in mind, and I am very grateful to them--especially to the Angevins,Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their equally famous children, known to their contemporaries as the Devil's Brood.

Product Description

Review

"The great Crusader king Richard the Lionheart comes alive in all his complex splendor in this masterpiece of a medieval tapestry by Sharon Kay Penman. She brings him and his legendary enemy, Saladin, before us, both on the battlefield for Jerusalem and in the quiet of their private chambers. It's as if you were there, in this strange, beguiling, vanished time that haunts the Middle East even today. Penman has triumphed in capturing its elusive essence and the blazing glory of the English king called Lionheart." -Margaret George, author of "Elizabeth I: A Novel"

Book Description

Richard I was crowned King in 1189 and set off almost immediately for the Third Crusade. This was a bloody campaign to regain the Holy Land, marked by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. Men and women found themselves facing new sorts of challenges and facing an uncertain future. John, the youngest son, was left behind – and with Richard gone, he was free to conspire with the French king to steal his brother's throne. Overshadowing the battlefields that stretched to Jerusalem and beyond were the personalities of two great adversaries: Richard and Saladin. They quickly took the measure of each other in both war and diplomacy. The result was mutual admiration: a profound acknowledgement of a worthy opponent. In this gripping narrative of passion, intrigue, battle and deceit, Penman reveals a true and complex Richard – a man remarkable for his power and intelligence, his keen grasp of warfare and his concern for the safety of his men, who followed him against all odds. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By EleanorB TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have always enjoyed a Sharon Penman dip into the early Middle Ages in the company of the vibrant Plantagenet characters who populated the ruling classes in those days. Richard's story is another interesting part of that panoply, but to be honest I feel she would have been happier writing a factual chronicle of his life and not a fiction. The third crusade was clearly a disaster from start to finish, costing the lives of many on both sides for very little actual gain. Richard himself is one of those unreachable, unreadable characters. An enigma in his own time, a fearsome and fearless soldier, but less good on the diplomatic front and prone to either trusting the wrong people, or falling out with the wrong people. The strong woman in his life is his mother, the amazing Eleanor of Aquitaine (whom Penman has developed brilliantly in earlier work), not his naive and clingy wife and although Penman tries for a shedload of male bonding, Richard refuses to play ball. Do his men universally love him, or do they just tolerate him because they have to!? Does he care more for his own quest for Jerusalem, than for his remote English kingdom (which after all is funding these adventures to a large extent) and is he actually more at war with the French King, Philip, than with Saladin? Penman has woven a pleasing narrative around these questions, but not the most engaging one, although the tortuous factional politics and petty feuding between the supposed crusading allies, are well drawn. Penman also has a particular talent for writing fight scenes, capturing the claustrophobic and brutal horrors of the medieval battlefield.

This being the case, although the novel is well written as is all Penman's material, it is not up there with her best.
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Kate TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Mar 2012
Format: Hardcover
The works of Sharon Kay Penman are close to my heart - Here be Dragons is one of my favourite historical novels and I hold it responsible for my fascination with the 12th century (and I'm no medievalist). Penman's books are rich, long and full of flavour for the past. Their reading is not to be rushed, it should be dallied over, and so it's not surprising that their writing is equally painstaking and the publication of a new novel is an event. Lionheart is the latest, the first of two novels on Richard I (reigned 1189-1199), arguably the most fantastical of England's kings and certainly its most charismatic.

Sharon Kay Penman states that she had preconceived ideas about Richard - his unsuitability for kingship, his irresponsibility and arrogance, and his disregard for England - but that through her research for the other Plantagenet novels, she came to see another Richard: the Lionheart who inspired his men, thousands of miles from home, who shared their suffering and dreams, who fought bravely, with a realistic strategy, and who, after all, was never an Englishman. While Penman accedes that Richard was, or became, a bad husband and that his heart wasn't in England but in Aquitaine and on the battlefields of the Holy Land, she presents here the Lionheart that his men and family knew, not the one that history condemns. It's refreshing to find him both flawed and very likeable.

Lionheart covers the Third Crusade, which was far from glorious.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paula Jane M on 21 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered Lionheart on Kindle and started to read it the minute it was downloaded. In the week it took me to read the book, I resented having to go to work and do domestic chores. Was it worth the effort? The answer is a resounding YES! The next question is `why has it taken me so long to write a review?' I can answer that with the help of a friend, "that is the mark of a great book - that it stays with you and colours your perception of the world." I am still thinking about Lionheart, I am still talking about Lionheart and I am eagerly awaiting the release of `A King's Ransom'.

In all of Ms Penman's novels she has been able to skillfully blend together historical events, battles, political intrigue, human relationships, everyday life, joyful events and heartbreaking moments. Her books contain a rare blend of pathos, tenderness, humour, sarcastic wit and the most important element, truth. Her characters are real and you feel for them and understand their motivations. Her books have all contained main characters, weaved seamlessly with minor characters who help tell the full story. Who can forget the small but vitally important role that Jacob ben Judah plays in `Falls the Shadow'. Her most heart wrenching novel, `The Reckoning', also contains some of the funniest scenes I have ever read, my favourite being the story about the barnacle goose. In being able to mesh all these elements together, Ms Penman gives you the complete experience of the times she writes about.

In Lionheart there is less romance than there has been in other Penman novels, but that tells you a great deal about the man himself. He could be tender if he tried but there really was not a romantic bone is his body.
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