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Time and Chance (Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy 2) [Paperback]

Sharon Penman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 April 2003 Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy 2

TIME AND CHANCE, the second part of the trilogy about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, opens during the glory years of their reign.

While Henry redefined the role of medieval kingship, Eleanor gave birth to their children, founding a dynasty that would endure for 300 years. But even in these happy times, shadows were lurking. Battles on two borders. The disastrous appointment of Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury. And when Henry took lovely young Rosumund Clifford into his bed, little did he realise that in making an enemy of his proud, passionate queen he was making the gravest mistake of all ...

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Time and Chance (Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy 2) + When Christ and His Saints Slept (Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy 1) + Devil's Brood (Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy 3)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140270779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140270778
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,603 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.

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Amazon Review

The Sunne in Splendour confirmed Sharon Penman's place in the upper echelons of historical novelists, combining a breathtaking panoply of the past with an acute psychological observation of her characters. Time and Chance is the second part of her trilogy about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, beginning in the glory years of their reign. Penman conjures for us an astonishing era in which Henry battles with the Welsh and the French king, appoints Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury and, by taking a mistress, makes a bitter enemy of his wife.

Novelists are all too conscious of the pitfalls of the second book in a trilogy--traditionally, the weakest before the rallying of the final volume. Penman deals with this problem with panache. We knew from her earlier work the scalpel-like precision of her character building, but the emotional lives of Henry and the troubled Eleanor are powerfully realised. As in the first book of the sequence, When Christ and his Saints Slept, conflict is ever the driving force. Henry and Eleanor's remarkable partnership was proving highly fecund, both politically (as Henry created a new image of medieval kingship), and physically, as Eleanor gave birth to five sons and three daughters, laying to rest her reputation as a barren queen and founding a dynasty that was to last three centuries. But auguries of trouble ahead were apparent: war with the Welsh; acrimonious battles with Eleanor's first husband, the French King. But the truly destabilising factor was Henry's decision to appoint his friend and confidant Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry had assumed that the worldly, ambitious Becket would be the perfect ally, and was devastated when the new archbishop cast off his own worldly past as he embraced his role as Defender of the Faith, swapping dissolution for piety.

As Penman vividly demonstrates, Henry saw Becket's action as a humiliating betrayal. One of the most famous murders in history ensued, with further conflict in the kingdom caused by a liaison with the daughter of a baron. In bedding Rosamund Clifford, Henry put his marriage and even his kingship at risk. As always Penman wears her research lightly: the personal drama is the engine of her narrative, with each fresh scandal and intrigue delivered with a beguiling combination of relish and restraint. She is assured in her detailing of the political and ecclesiastical clashes of the court, but it is Henry II who strides her novel like a colossus--just as he did the kingdom he ruled. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Did Eleanor get lost in Aquitaine?" was the e-mail that Penman received from one of her anxious readers after this, the second part of a trilogy that started with When Christ and His Saints Slept (1994), seemed to be a long time in coming. Well, the wait is over and Time and Chance continues from the year 1156 the story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Central to this account is the famous episode of Thomas Becket's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, and Henry's betrayal of Eleanor. The murder of Thomas Becket, which is hardly giving away the plot, is still perhaps Christendom's greatest scandal. This is historical fiction conceived on a grand scale, graced with good period detail and a gripping narrative pace. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another truimph 23 Jun 2002
By Cat. A
I've been long awaiting this book, a story of the reign of Henry II and his relationship with the magnificent Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as the tumultuous events that led to the death of Thomas Becket. I absolutely adore her writing, the detail and care which she takes with her work make it a pleasure to read. Although some may find it overlong it covers so much history and in addition a few of her own characters who only add to the story. Also contained in the book is a little of the earlier history of Wales, she explored its defeat so well in other books (Here be Dragons, Falls the Shadow, The Reckoning), it was fascinating to read a little more of a country long neglected.
I highly recommend this book, but also do read its predecessor, When Christ and the Saints Slept, this will illuminate the story even more.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They Do Not Come Much Better 21 Mar 2005
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
I always look forward to a Sharon Penman novel that I have not read before. This one kept me interested throughout the book. She has the ability to make the reader feel they are there with the characters, no mean feat.
The story is about the turbulent relationship between Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Starting in 1156 the couple have been married for four years. The birth of their sons has ensured the succession to the throne, but civil war has seen the country torn apart.
Henry needs to defend the borders of England against France and Wales, but his most daunting task is his fight with the church to stop them from infringing on his power.
This conflict culminates with his one time friend Thomas Becket, whom Henry has made Archbishop of Canterbury, being murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. (Something that is probably burned on the mind of school children throughout England).
Sharon Penman is not a prolific writer, which is understandable considering the amount of research that must go into each of her books. This book stands out among historical novels.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unstoppable force meets immovable object 13 Feb 2006
"What miserable drones and traitors I have nourished and promoted in my household, who let their lord be mocked so shamefully by a lowborn clerk!"
Thus, in TIME AND CHANCE, is author Sharon Kay Penman's version of the angry words that compelled four of Henry II's knights to commit one of the most famous assassinations in Western European history, that of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
The second in an ostensible series of three works of historical fiction - the last has yet to appear - about the first Plantagenet King of England and his consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine, this volume spans the period 1156 - 1171. Woven into the plot are the four pivotal events (for historians, novelists and screenwriters, at least) of that period: Henry's subjugation of the Welsh king, Owain Gwynedd, Henry's taking of Rosamund Clifford as his mistress, Henry's disastrous relationship with Becket, and the crowning of Henry's oldest son, Young Henry, as Ol' Dad's heir apparent.
Judging from Penman's other novels, she has a fascination with medieval Wales. Here, she fleshes out much of the Owain Gwynedd subplot through a completely fictional character, Ranulf Fitz Roy, carried over from the first book in the series, WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT, which dealt with that period of English civil war before Henry II's accession when his mother Maude, the daughter of Henry I, fought to dethrone the then English monarch, Stephen. As Sharon would have it, Ranulf was an illegitimate son of Henry I by a Welsh mistress, and therefore half-brother to Maude and half-uncle to Henry II. In any case, I accepted his presence in the first book because the main player in the series, Henry II, had yet to take center stage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I could reiterate many of the points that I made in my Saints review here. Nothing's changed. Sharon's still a brilliantly fluid writer with an excellent knowledge of the English language, she's still an impeccable researcher, she still creates deft characterisations and astonishingly detailed settings. I guess the point is consistency. In anything one does, we're told that consistency is the key - a sportsman's got to be consistent to reach the top and become one of the greatest, a student's got to produce consistently good coursework to get good qualifications... and in order to be the best of the best, an author's got to produce consistently good novels time after time. The astonishing thing for me is not just that Sharon Penman is a great writer, but that she can produce the same exacting standards and quality time after time after time, with, as far as I can see, no faltering and no wobbles. I consider that to be astounding.

Something which I mentioned in my previous review was the objectivity with which Sharon treats the historical characters. An objective view of the historical figures is something I look for in good historical fiction. Whitewashing historical situations or glossing over the people to present everyone as either wholly right or wrong is I think too much of an oversimplification of the history, potentially an insult to the readers' intelligence, and certainly doesn't do justice to the historical people who lived and died through such times. Sharon Penman is one of the few authors who I never have to worry about meeting such criterion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must read ,all three books in trilogy brilliant
Published 7 hours ago by Mo
5.0 out of 5 stars I absolutely love Sharon Penman's books
I absolutely love Sharon Penman's books, and have them in paperback, but also, in Kindle, apart from Time and Chance, and am wondering why this is not available in Kindle. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Susan Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good setvice
Published 13 days ago by SUEB
5.0 out of 5 stars Whole series is outstanding real historical fiction
Sharon Penman writes historical fiction the way I like it done. The 'real' history researched as far as possible, with the fiction added to make it accessible and help the story... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Eliakim
5.0 out of 5 stars Interest in Eleanor
This was a brilliant read and great to learn how the strength of women saw them through a time in history when women were not generally regarded in many ways. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Justme
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book but...
The book was well written and researched however it was not as good as When Christ and His Saints Slept.
Published 4 months ago by Danielle Czerkaszyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Time and Chance
I have waited for this book on Kindle for two years, so in the end I bought the paperback. After reading 'Saints' many years ago I couldn't wait the next instalment and the wait... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Benmaric
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical novels
I have not actually read it all yet so I can't really make a proper evaluation. What more can I say except that her books are usually excellent reads.
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. V. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice
"Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to men of skill but time... Read more
Published 10 months ago by ereini0n
4.0 out of 5 stars "Will no one rid me of the turbulent priest!" - Henry II
`Time and Chance' follows on from `When Chris and His Saints Slept' left off, with the kingship of Henry II from 1156 to 1171. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Clio
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