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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Penman outdoes herself in this one
I don't think it's any secret that I'm a huge Penman fan (or Penmenian as my good friend J calls it), and I was thrilled to spot this on the Vine newsletter and get an early shot at it.

This is a difficult book to review, since those who are familiar with Richard's history don't need another rehash, and those fresh to the story don't need me spilling the beans...
Published 15 months ago by Misfit

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Kindle version is riddled with typing errors that spoil the flow
Having read most of the previous Penman books (The Sunne In Splendour and its sequels, then the Angevin trilogy) I moved on to read the two books about Richard. I couldn't put Lionheart down and expected this book to be the same, but unfortunately it wasn't. I actually put it aside twice in the early chapters - I just got so fed up reading about shipwrecks & pirates,...
Published 1 month ago by Ruth


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Penman outdoes herself in this one, 18 Mar. 2014
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A King's Ransom (Hardcover)
I don't think it's any secret that I'm a huge Penman fan (or Penmenian as my good friend J calls it), and I was thrilled to spot this on the Vine newsletter and get an early shot at it.

This is a difficult book to review, since those who are familiar with Richard's history don't need another rehash, and those fresh to the story don't need me spilling the beans. And trust me, there are plenty of surprises to be had, even for those who think they know about Richard being held hostage and his troubles with the French king and his younger brother John.

That pretty much leaves me to discussing MY reading experience, and all I can say is WOW. I was gripped on the first pages with the cat and mouse came of getting home from crusade and trying to avoid the snares set to capture him. While I was aware that Richard had spent time in Germany as a hostage, there was much more to the story, and I was fascinated watching how that experience changed him and how he interacted with others in his life, especially his marriage to Berengeria. I loved his sarcastic nature (he gets some of the best dialogue!) when it was directed towards younger brother John and Philippe Capet (the French king). And speaking of Richard's younger brother John, some of my favorite moments were the family Christmas celebrations and watching him trolling the room for gossip and mischief. I so wish I could quote some of it. It doesn't get better than that.

While this book is a follow up to Lionheart, IMHO it can be read as a stand-alone, and another thumbs up to the author for getting the reader up to speed on previous events without the use of tedious info dumps. I also appreciated how Raimond was used to get the reader up to speed with the Cathar religion, and why the Catholic church was so set against it. There is a fairly large cast of characters (my copy had a reference sheet at the front), and I recommend using it. My knowledge of the Holy Roman Empire is pretty poor, and I did need some help trying to keep track of some of the minor players, especially when the names were similar. Once things moved back to Normandy and Richard's efforts to regain the lands he'd lost, I was hooked until the very last pages. These are strictly my opinions I'm expressing, but I didn't see Richard as a glorified, romantic hero. I found this to be a very well-rounded, fair look at a very complicated man and king.

As for the ending? Knowing Richard's history there were things I knew would happen and was prepared for - and I can't say more - but I will say that I have not had to put a book down and have a good cry since I read The Reckoning, the last in her Welsh trilogy.

It may be only early February, but I'm still willing to call this one of the best reads I'll have all year. One final note, if you are torn between purchasing the physical book over a digital version, I'd recommend the latter. The book is a huge doorstopper, and my dodgy elbow took a beating trying to hold it up. Plus the cat was a bit put out - book and cat could not fit on the lap at the same time, and the little darling does so like her lap time.

My copy obtained via Amazon Vine, US.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look Richard I's captivity and life after the Crusade., 24 Jun. 2015
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IP - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Paperback)
The perfect companion for all historical fiction enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Richard the Lionheart has come down through history as a figure larger than life. More hero than not his actual record as King of England is mixed but as the subject of a novel - his life is at times stranger than fiction so it makes for fascinating reading especially in the hands of a storyteller such as Ms. Penman. I've been reading her books since she started writing them and I've only missed one - the first in her Angevin trilogy, The Devil's Brood. This conclusion to that series wraps up the life of Richard quite satisfactorily.

A King's Ransom covers the period of his life as he tries to come home from his last Crusade and finds himself captured and held for a ransom that is sure to bankrupt England. But his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine will raise that ransom to rescue her favorite son. Meanwhile his brother John will do what he can to thwart Richard's return because he wants to remain in power.

Who needs fiction when the facts are so compelling? But it's the fiction that pulls it all together into a very compelling read. I do love my English history and I am never quite so happy as when I have a doorstop of a book to get lost in so with A King's Ransom I was in my glory. I will say that Richard does come across somewhat god like and I take some issue with that as I do not think he was one of England's great kings - he was hardly in England! He was though an eminently fascinating man.

The book reads very quickly and while it can stand alone I think it was helpful to me as a reader to have read Lionheart first. Just to have all of that delightful background. There are a LOT of characters and it does take a while to sort them all out especially their titles from their names but once that is done the book is a rich depiction of the last years of a man who left a large shadow on history. A rip roaring good read with a very satisfying ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Kindle version is riddled with typing errors that spoil the flow, 6 May 2015
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Kindle Edition)
Having read most of the previous Penman books (The Sunne In Splendour and its sequels, then the Angevin trilogy) I moved on to read the two books about Richard. I couldn't put Lionheart down and expected this book to be the same, but unfortunately it wasn't. I actually put it aside twice in the early chapters - I just got so fed up reading about shipwrecks & pirates, then when they got onto terra firma it seemed to go on forever; eventually I was willing Richard to be caught so we could get on with the 'real story'. Once we got to that point I felt it got better - although I confess to 'skim reading' quite a few of the battle scenes because that's just not my thing. But the thing that really spoiled my enjoyment of this Kindle version was the amount of typing errors. Complete mistypes of words - I would have to read the sentence two or three times to get what she was trying to say (eg 'He in rich' instead of Heinrich, 'asking' instead of as King, 'there venues' instead of the revenues). The American spellings of words I could put up with, but the poor standard of typing really irritated me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Sequel to Lionheart, 14 May 2014
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A King's Ransom (Hardcover)
A book by Sharon Penman is always eagerly looked forward to, at least by me and a myriad of other readers. The author's books are up there with the best historical fiction writers of today. If however, you are expecting a couple of hundred pages and a lightweight or easy reading storyline then Sharon Penman is probably not the author for you. Most of her books are heavyweight (in volume, not in content), as in this book, that runs to several hundred pages and is the sequel to the excellent Lionheart

Sharon Penman's attention, not only to detail, but also to historical accuracy is as good as anyone writing today. She has the ability to bring the period of history she is writing about to life for the reader. At the same time she writes in a style that is never boring. No long passages, or chapters that could safely be left out of the book without the story suffering. Everything in the book is there for a reason, to add to the enjoyment of the reader. A style that some lesser author's could learn from.

This book concentrates on the protracted return of the Lionheart from the Holy Land, becoming shipwrecked in the Mediterranean and his subsequent capture by the Duke of Austria. Further to his incarceration his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine begins to raise the ransom needed for Richard's release, with little or no help from her younger son, the infamous John. The English people in general are loathe to part with the taxes being raised to free a King who has barely set foot on English soil during his reign. Eleanor will not be denied and moves heaven and earth to free her favourite son.

The story is a well documented one, and has been told many times, but rarely with the aplomb shown by the author. A terrific read, and one that should not be missed by all those who love historical fiction.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another chronicle: admirable, but a bit of a slog, 3 April 2014
By 
Bookwoman - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Kindle Edition)
Every reviewer so far has given this latest instalment in Sharon Penman's mighty Plantagenet saga five stars, and I can understand why. This is an author in a league of her own.
She's been my favourite historical novelist from the moment I came across Here be Dragons in the library and raced through it over a lost weekend. But ever since the follow-up to the magnificent When Christ and His Saints Slept (Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy 1), she's been writing a different sort of book. In previous reviews I've called them fictional chronicles, and I have to admit that I find them a bit of a slog.
Her novels were always weighty but never dull. She managed to re-create and interpret historical events intelligently and in meticulous detail, while telling a hugely entertaining tale: the backgrounds may have been sweeping, but the individual stories were personal and touching. The icing on the cake was her creation of some of the most vivid characters in historical fiction - a romantic view of their emotions and relationships, perhaps, but always believable, and totally compelling.
Nowadays, her determination to give us an exhaustive account of every event is admirable, but it's at the expense of things like structure, drama and empathy. Although she still rises to the occasion when necessary - Richard's trial at Speyer is a dramatic highlight, and her deathbed scenes rarely leave me dry-eyed - there's far too much clunky and repetitive exposition.
In order to complete Richard's story she's had to double back on herself and repeat some scenes from Here Be Dragons, and comparing the two serves to highlight how her priorities have changed. You can even see the difference if you flip through the two books: all that dense prose - where has all the dialogue gone?
There's far too much of this sort of thing:
"Leopold's younger brother Heinrich was introduced to Richard as the Duke of Modling, a duchy he'd not even heard of, but Leopold's teenage nephew Ulrich stirred some unpleasant memories of Freisach, for he was the Duke of Carinthia, a region Richard hoped never to have to see again. The other guests included Leopold's cousin Adalbert, the Archbishop of Salzburg, Dietrich, the bishop of Gurk, and the Cistercian abbots of Stift Zwettl, which had been founded by Hadmar's father, and Stift Heiligenkreuz ... "
Maybe I could have forgiven her for such dogged thoroughness, if only she'd brought Richard I to life for me like she did the soldier kings in her previous books, from his father Henry to Richard III. She tells us everything he did and it all makes perfect sense, but, like his relationships with his wife, friends and mother, it's all rather repetitive and perfunctory. The minor characters fare even less well: it's hard to distinguish between all those German knights, for example, and her neglect of the fictional Morgan, son of our old friend Ranulf, borders on the criminal. (Though the fleeting glimpse of two characters from her 'Queen's Man' mystery series is rather neat).
What drama the book contains is over by the time Richard is freed from his imprisonment: for me, the following five years of endless sieges and peace talks all started to merge into one. Granted, his deathbed scene is done very well, but then the book peters out like a Hollywood film with several false endings - and what a mawkish final scene for the great Eleanor of Aquitaine!
All this reads as if I didn't enjoy this book, and I did, though admired is probably a better word. I can't give it less than four stars, but once again I'm left feeling disappointed - I just can't forget her earlier work, which set the bar so highly. I'll probably continue to buy her books as soon as they come out, but I don't think I'll be wearing them to shreds like I did The Sunne in Splendour.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great follow up to Lionheart, if a little less colourful, 23 Dec. 2014
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Kindle Edition)
This is the follow up volume to Sharon Penman's Lionheart, and the action picks up when Richard is on the way back from the Third Crusade, and has to divert overland through the middle of Europe. Thus begins the chain of events leading to his capture by Leopold of Austria and incarceration for a year and a half at the hands of the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich von Hohenstaufen, including at his notorious castle, Trifels. This first half of the novel contains some dramatic and chilling scenes, but I did find it a bit repetitive and inevitably lacking in some of the colour and dramatic incident of its prequel novel. The second half is more varied and is almost as much a novel of Richard's mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and sister Joanna, as of the man himself. The infamous crossbow bolt and his death happens with still some 60 pages of narrative to go, much of which focuses on the death of Joanna from a pregnancy-related illness and the effect this has on her mother. As ever, this is a superbly written novel full of fascinating characters and concludes the author's five book sojourn through the lives and times of the Angevins. 4.5/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American spellings a disappointment., 31 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Hardcover)
Usual high standard from Sharon Penman. Unfortunately this is the American edition with weird spellings so I cannot rate it as highly as I would like. Make sure you pick an English edition if you're particular about such things.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Typos galore in Kindle edition, 13 April 2014
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Kindle Edition)
I always like Sharon Penman books so the printed version would earn 5 stars. But if you buy the Kindle edition be prepared for loads of infuriating typos, e.g. 'asking' instead of 'as king' or 'he in rich' instead of 'Heinrich' which you won't expect in the printed version. I say don't buy it until they either drop the price to 50 p or they sort out their proof reading. This experience has put me off high price Kindle books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of stu fflike this, 28 Jun. 2015
By 
S. C. Jenkins (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Kindle Edition)
I loved the book, which was much more engaging than Lionheart. The characters were more vivid and the story more interesting, even though I know what happened. It was really alive.
I regret buying the Kindle edition, which is full of errors which an elementary spell-check would have discovered. It did not even a need a human being to edit it - a computer could have done the job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 30 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: A King's Ransom (Kindle Edition)
Sharon Penman is a wonderful writer and this is another enjoyable and well researched novel. I found it interesting how she put a modern spin on Richard with the idea of post traumatic stress from his time in Leopold s hands and the development of Joanna final pregnancy. I wonder who she will write about next, whoever it is, it's bound to be a bit.
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A King's Ransom
A King's Ransom by Sharon Penman (Hardcover - 13 Mar. 2014)
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