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Lionheart Hardcover – 4 Oct 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 164 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Marian Wood Book (4 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399157859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157851
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.1 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,626,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The epic story of heroic yet controversial Richard the Lionheart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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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Format: Hardcover
One of the best things about the publication of a new Sharon Penman novel is that feeling of security which creates even higher anticipation - the consistency of her level of writing over the years has built up a real store of trust amongst her readership. Unlike some authors where a new release is met with anticipation mixed with nervousness by readers to discover if it will be a sensation or a flop, we know ahead of time that we're safe with one of Sharon's novels, we know that we're always going to get the high standard of research and writing that Sharon delivers. What a relief in the frequently hit and miss world of historical fiction!

I was intrigued ahead of time about how Penman would portray the very different worlds of Sicily, Cyprus and Outremer, compared to the familiar settings in her novels of western Europe, but in treating these locations and their unique environments and cultures with as much care and detail as she does our old stomping grounds of Wales, England and France, Sharon Penman creates these new places just as thoroughly and believably. As per usual, Sharon is tackling a political situation of intense complexity, with a veritable cast of hundreds of characters, but again by rendering this deftly and carefully she keeps everything clear and understandable. This is a point of particular importance for me, since so many historical fiction authors shy away from conveying the full story when the history gets complicated, and it seems to be out of fear that readers just won't understand and will then slam the book for being too confusing. Not once during the course of reading Lionheart did I feel confused or have to go back and re-read due to bewilderment. I cannot stress enough just how much this contributes to the overall quality of the writing.
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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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