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The Captive Queen [Paperback]

Alison Weir
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 July 2011

It is the year 1152, and a beautiful woman rides through France, fleeing her crown, her two young daughters and a shattered marriage.

Her husband, Louis of France has been more monk than monarch, and certainly not a lover. Now Eleanor of Aquitaine has one sole purpose: to return to her duchy and marry the man she loves, Henry Plantagenet, destined for greatness as King of England. It will be a union founded on lust, renowned as one of the most vicious marriages in history, and it will go on to forge a great empire and a devilish brood.

This is a story of the making of nations, and of passionate conflicts: between Henry II and Thomas Becket; between Eleanor and Henry's formidable mother Matilda; between father and sons, as Henry's children take up arms against him - and finally between Henry and Eleanor herself.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099534584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099534587
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alison Weir lives and works in Surrey. Her books include Britain's Royal Families, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Children of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Mary, Queen of Scots and Isabella: She-Wolf of France.

Product Description


"A vibrant historical novel that explores the rocky relationship between Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose union produced King John and Richard the Lionheart" (Marie Claire)

"A tumultous tale, told here with insight, empathy, vitality and vision . . . A brilliant portrayal of a marriage in meltdown" (Lancashire Evening Post)

"Alison Weir deserves the large and loyal popular following for her readable historical biographies . . . Eleanor of Aquitaine is the most fabulous (literally) of subjects" (Viewspaper)

"Weir provides immense satisfaction. She writes in a pacy, vivid style, engaging the heart as well as the mind" (Independent)

Book Description

A top ten bestselling novelist and historian recreates in fiction the most extraordinary and tempestuous marriage in history

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
132 of 137 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Captive Story 7 April 2010
Alison Weir has proven once again that her fiction novels are just as wonderful as her non fiction. Her attention to detail and understanding of the historical figures she portrays are excellent.

The Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth kept me hooked for hours. However I was unsure if The Captive Queen would be as entertaining for me. I've always loved the Tudor period so Weir's new novel was a new experience and period for me.

The story centres around Queen Eleanor and her explosive marriage to Henry Plantagenet. Weir starts by addressing Eleanor's unhappy marriage to King Louis of France, but this is brief. Henry and Eleanor are introduced very quickly and I feel the story really takes off once they are together. Weir captures the lust and passion of the newly formed couple perfectly.

As the story unravels cracks start to appear in the couples relationship. Although I had some understanding of what was going to happen, I found myself wishing that they would stay happy together. Weir has created characters who jump out at you and I loved that about this book.

Weir explores the marriage of Eleanor and Henry from start to finish, covering a long period in history and many key points. The exploration of Becket and the part he had to play in the marriage is interesting and added depth to the story. I particularly enjoyed how his murder was portrayed and the aftermath. I also liked the relationships built between Eleanor and her children. This was vital for the novel to conclude in the way it does.

The final section of the novel was the hardest part for me to read. It was truly awful reading about the break down of the marriage. Weir captures the hatred which has built up gradually throughout the book, into an explosive final.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear 25 April 2011
I like popular history, especially anything about the Plantagenets, but hadn't ventured into historical fiction until recently, when I picked up Devil's Consort by Anne O'Brien. And it was utter nonsense: just pages and pages of Eleanor of Aquitaine alleviating her sexual frustration by sleeping with various members of her extended family. So I had high hopes of The Captive Queen - I liked Alison Weir's portrayal of Isabella of France but had found it a bit dry, so the expert opinion with added artistic licence sounded good.

Instead, it's just bad sex scenes, strung together with occasional exposition. Meeting Henry, seeing Henry, disagreeing with Henry... everything ends with them having sex. There are idiotic conversations about sovereignty, while they're having sex. We get it: they really, really fancied each other. It adds nothing. The dialogue can't make up its mind whether it's being casually modern or faux-medieval even within scenes, which was jarring, and every rumour about Eleanor and Henry's private lives is thrown in for good measure, as though the author was trying to make it as juicy as possible.

Maybe I'm just not the target audience for this kind of book: I wanted readable realism. Next time I'll pick up a biography, but for the time being, I'm just going to leave poor Eleanor alone.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars consuming mix of fact and fiction 11 April 2010
By L. Bretherton VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well, you will need to set aside time to read this novel, that's for sure. It requires your concentration and commitment for 2 or 3 days, if you are really to get into the swing of the narrative. I usually read Tudor novels, so this was new ground for me, but I learned a lot along the way, which, I think, is part of Weir's motive for creating these historical tales which are based on her own meticulous research. So, from the bare bones of the biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the author has created a wonderful portrait of this amazing woman, and her complicated life. Married first to the King of France, after that union is annulled, Eleanor quickly becomes the wife of the charismatic Henry II, a volatile man with an insatiable appetite for women. The book covers all the rest of her life, her many pregnancies, and the decline of her marriage from a passionate, all-consuming love affair to a bitter power struggle which continues for years, with the inheritance of the royal children providing the board for the chess-like game that Henry and Eleanor play with each other.

Loads of historical detail, very convincing character portrayals, and a well-drawn picture of a marriage in tatters make this novel a rewarding read.
The relationships between Eleanor and her many children are particularly well represented, also the passionate nature of the woman and her lust for life. I ended up admiring her greatly, not least because of the huge distances she travelled during her life, constantly moving from England to France, from palace to castle, either on horseback or in a litter. Remember this was the 12th Century, no high speed trains back then. The fact that she survived into her 80s, after 11 pregnancies, is also pretty mind-blowing.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too much cringe-making sex.... 7 Dec 2010
I was so looking forward to reading this as I usually love Alison Weir's work. However, I have to admit that I have had to consign this one, unfinished, to the charity shop due to the unnecessary amount of cringe-making sex. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind historical novels containing graphic sex when it is done well (Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings, for example) but these sex scenes, which came very early on in The Captive Queen, felt false and not credible and affected my perception of the book so much that I just couldn't finish it. Sorry Alison - I am usually a big fan!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good page turner and very colourful, though not one of her best
Alison Weir makes another foray into non-Tudor history with this novel about the tempestuous marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II, which complements her biography of... Read more
Published 4 days ago by John Hopper
2.0 out of 5 stars '...Lightly stroking his hairy thigh'
Yes folks, that's about the sum of it. So disappointing, not the hairy thigh but the prose, the dialogue, the whole narrative in fact. Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. Ramuz
1.0 out of 5 stars Writing 'beyond poor'
There are many 1* reviews here and with good reason. I shan't waste my time (having wasted my money already) adding to the list other than to say - read the other 1* reviews as I... Read more
Published 2 months ago by budleighfoxylad
5.0 out of 5 stars The Captive Queen.
A fantastic read, captivating, the book is so well written you feel as if you are there watching Eleanor's life unfolding in front of you.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome sufeit of sex
I normally really enjoy factional historical novels, but I quickly wearied of the sex scenes seemingly every other paragraph and abandoned the book after a few chapters. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Swaine
4.0 out of 5 stars terrific and sad
Alison Weir is always a terrific read and she tells this saddest of true stories with all it's twists and turns with her usual panache
Published 5 months ago by J M Marshall
3.0 out of 5 stars Historian turns novelist.
Having been a great fan of her history books, I was disappointed at her foray into historical novels. Points of history stand out against awful descriptions of bedtime activity. Read more
Published 5 months ago by A.Nicklin
5.0 out of 5 stars A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
This book presents a different view to the usualy accepted one of Eleanor. Alison Weir thoroughly researches her writings so yes I do find her version of events believable..
Published 5 months ago by Stella Sidoli
5.0 out of 5 stars Positive and believable
I have always been interested in Eleanor and I think Alison Weir makes her motivation quite understandable. Read more
Published 6 months ago by wendy morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I bought this book for my wife and she absolutely loved it, could not put it down, staying up in to the early hours reading it - most unusual for her.
Published 6 months ago by P. Eades
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