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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History made accessible
This was my second Sharon Penman novel having being so impressed by the delightful "Sunne In Splendour". Here Be Dragons is the first of her Welsh trilogy with the focus on the life of John Lackland's bastard born daughter Joanna, and her subsequent marriage to Llewellyn Fawr. The story tells of Llewellyn's ongoing struggle to unite Wales and rid them of the...
Published on 7 Mar 2006

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars long winded
Cracking book set in an interesting time in British history that is often overlooked. But it is very long winded and complex, had to read it in stages. I really recommend it, but take your time.
Published 18 months ago by Smally


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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History made accessible, 7 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
This was my second Sharon Penman novel having being so impressed by the delightful "Sunne In Splendour". Here Be Dragons is the first of her Welsh trilogy with the focus on the life of John Lackland's bastard born daughter Joanna, and her subsequent marriage to Llewellyn Fawr. The story tells of Llewellyn's ongoing struggle to unite Wales and rid them of the English, whilst Joanna is constantly torn between pleasing both her father and her husband.
This book is engrossing throughout, though do allow yourself time to acclimatize to the numerous confusing names of the characters and please persevere because this really is a great book! Sometimes sad, and full of twists and turns, by the time you finish "Here Be Dragons" you'll be just as keen for the next installment. Whether you are interested in history or not, this stands on it's own as a great story, very highly recommended!
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 13th Century Welsh Historical Fiction, Romance & Pageantry, 28 Feb 2005
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
Sharon Kay Penman is a remarkably gifted writer. Her impeccable historical research, attention to detail and superb storytelling ability make her novels consistently excellent. "Here Be Dragons" is one of her best efforts. It is the second book in her Plantagenet series, which include "The Sunne In Splendour," "Falls The Shadow," and "The Reckoning." Each of these wonderful historical novels stands on its own, however, and while it is an extraordinary experience to read each book in order, one does not have to do so to appreciate the history, the characters or the period.
Ruthless, power hungry King John Platagenet ruled 13th century England with an iron fist. He was determined to bring Wales, a country divided, under his thumb and into his power. Charismatic Llewelyn Farr, Prince of Northern Wales fought to unite his country's nobility and provide a strong front against the English. He finally succeeded in securing a tentative truce with England by marrying King John's beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna. Initially wary of her new husband, her father's enemy, Joanna grew to love Llewelyn passionately over the years, but she was constantly torn between the politics of Wales and England, and her love for her husband and her father.
This is a complex saga of historic characters, politics, intrigues, betrayals, bloody battles and wars, romance, lust, power struggles, princesses held captive, revenge and forgiveness. Yet once begun, this extraordinary epic is almost impossible to put down. Ms. Penman portrays Wales, its people, culture and landscape vividly, with glorious detail. It is fascinating to become involved with the characters and realize how linked they are by common ancestry. Not only is Welsh history tied to that of England's, but the royal families, King John's and Prince Llewelyn's, are linked by blood as are their descendants. Ms. Penman joins the histories and characters of these two countries to give the reader, not just a superb tale but a look at the bigger historical picture also.
This is truly one of the best historical novels I have ever read. Ms. Penman paints an unforgettable picture of medieval England and Wales and the characters who made history. I cannot recommend these books highly enough.
JANA
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 17 Mar 2005
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
This is the first book the Sharon Penman's Anglo-Welsh trilogy - and weighing in at around 800 pages for this volume alone, it's not a venture to be undertaken lightly! I have already read Penman's excellent The Sunne in Splendour and the first Justin de Quincy mystery, The Queen's Man, so I had a pretty good idea of the quality of writing I would be in for, and I was not disappointed! I am not so familiar with the historical period covered here and particularly with Welsh politics, but Penman is a skilled storyteller and really manages to bring the period to life. Her characters are well-drawn using historical sources and you really care about what happens. I thought the typically wicked King John was handled particularly well. I am always appreciative of the historical note at the end to explain her decisions and where Penman tells us which characters she has introduced with no historical basis, but to help the narrative. I had a pretty shrewd guess, but feel this decision needs no apologies! And yes, I did spot the Tudor connection and felt just a little smug about it! The only thing I thought that might have been helpful would have been a list of Dramatis Personae, if you will, as there are a lot of characters and unfamiliar names, and this could maybe have helped to sort them out as sometimes I got a little confused, even though I read this in about 4 days. Now I'm off to order the other two books in the trilogy - don't be afraid to do the same!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping historical novel, 7 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
this has got to be one of my favouite books of all time. i had read the sunne in splendour by miss penman first and even though i found that excellent, this was far better. if you read the whole trilogy together( falls the shadow is the second and the last is the reckoning) it is a truly wonderful reading experience. Sharon Penman has got me addicted to medieval fiction.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLY AMAZING !!!, 25 July 2001
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
I generally like historic novels, but this one is by far the best one I've ever read. It makes it possible to identify yourself with the main female character Joanna and to fall in love with Llewellyn as she did. With this novel it was the first time in my life that I have actually cried reading a book. I simply did not want the book to finish, as I would have wanted them to be together forever. We are talking about an emotional masterpiece. I can just recommend it to all of you, this novel represents an experience which must be lived.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best of Penman's novels, 30 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
I have read all of Sharon Penman's novels to date. Here Be Dragons, the story of King John's bastard daughter Joanna and her marriage to Lleywellyn the Great, Prince of Wales is by far her best piece of work. The politics of the period are fed into the story in a readable fashion that doesn't leave you skipping great chunks of text. The characters have great depth and you live the story with them every step of the way. I fell in love with Llewellyn and I could tell that ms Penman had done so too! This is THE Penman novel to buy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING, 19 Aug 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
I have never read a book which captures the feelings and heart of Wales so well. This book brings together the beautiful welsh country and histroy and binds them with a brilliant plot which holds the reader spell-bound. I fell in love with LLewelyn instantly and felt a similar bond with his young rebel son Gruffydd. The depth of the characteriseation of the main characters is amazing, you really feel for them through the ups and downs of the story. The loving and tender side of Joanna and Llewelyn's relationship warms the heart and really shows an deep devotion and love. Spectaular book !!!!!.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Novel, 28 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Here Be Dragons (Kindle Edition)
Just a quick word to say: I loved this book. I couldn't put it down and even managed to smack myself in the face with my Kindle whilst falling asleep reading it at 4 o'clock in the morning. Even then I couldn't sleep without dreaming about it! If you love late medieval historical fiction, then this is the book for you. You even get your money's worth as it's a good long read - brilliant for the Kindle as it keeps you going for a good few days and you can hold it with one hand in bed. Will definitely be reading a lot more by this authour!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who love history but hate boring facts!, 15 May 2005
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
Great characters- especially llewelyn (im gonna model myself on him), Shows how everybody was thinking at the time politically but without complications. King Johns increasing problems with the barons. Llewelyns attempt to unify wales and make the future of wales safe. Joannas conflict between father and husband. I can only say thankyou to sharon for writing this book as i have found my new favourite book!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff!!! Read Ascent of an Eagle too!!, 16 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Here be Dragons (Paperback)
Sharon Kay Penman has crafted a quite wonderful novel in 'Here Be Dragons'. The book is intricately told and at times is quite gripping. The reader is instantly drawn in and feels a very human character coming through in Joanna, a girl trapped between teo loyalties. The whole novel is fascinating and is a quite startling account of treachery and intrigue.
If you are interested in the period and in the life of Llewelyn the Great, I would strongly recommend that you also take a look at 'Ascent of an Eagle' by Gaius Demetrius. This book also examines the early part of the reign of Llewelyn the Great and is told in a fabulous way. The only major difference would be the portrayal of Joan, she is perhaps not seen as quite so innocent in Demetrius' book. However, for another excellent story about the period, I would heartily recommend Ascent of an Eagle.
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Here be Dragons
Here be Dragons by Sharon Penman (Paperback - 5 Sep 1991)
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