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on 18 August 2016
I think Sharon Penman is an excellent author and she was brought to my attention by an archaeologist working on the 'Mary Rose' project. She thought that SP was an author who researched her subject well and I concur with that view. I have the annoying habit of 'researching whilst I read' and have found her pretty faultless. Any critic of an author of fiction (but obviously not of a text-book) should always bear in mind that 'there are no such things as facts; only interpreted facts', and as a very wise Buddhist Lama once told me '80% is perfection'. It is more than possible that Thomas (a) Becket had a number of epithets during his lifetime. To be unduly critical of a minor issue would suggest more about the reviewer than the author or book. The story should not be judged other than by its main purpose - to entertain and it certainly does that.
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on 7 March 2006
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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on 29 January 2015
The book gives a fascinating insight into the life, times and contemporaries of John Plantaganet, King of England, son of the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine and brother to the famed warrior, Richard the Lionheart.. Did he really deserve the epithet of 'Bad King John' or was he misrepresented by History? The author endeavours to present a fair picture as she gives a credible and colourful account of the historical facts.

The story is told mostly through the eyes of his illegitimate daughter, married to the charismatic Welsh Prince Llewellyn the Great. Of course it is also a tale of love and troubled emotions resulting from conflicting loyalties.

'A thumping good read' - could hardly bear to put it down. I have read all of Ms Penman's books and have no hesitation in recommending them.
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on 28 June 2014
This was a wonderfully written novel set in the time of John I of England. Penman tells the captivating story of John's bastard daughter Joanna and her marriage to Llewelyn of Wales.
The female protagonist, Joanna, is brought to life by Penman. The complexities of her character are so utterly real that you really are aware that this woman once lived--she is not just a two-dimensional character in a book.
Penman also masterly winds in the details of John's Welsh campaigns and of Llewelyn's desire to see a united Wales. Consequently, the reader is not just getting a captivating love story but is learning so much about the period in which the story is set.
John I himself was a very dark character, and it has taken considerable talent for Penman to have shown him in the loving light that Joanna saw him. That is not to say that his dark deeds have gone un-noted however, but rather that the reader understands how difficult it must have been to love a father that was considered by so many to be evil.
This book is a must-read for any lover of historical fiction, for Penman is a very skilled writer who succeeds in doing something that all writers of historical fiction aim to do--bring history back to life.
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on 19 March 2015
After reading Sunne in Splendour, I wanted to read more books by Sharon Penman. I've just finished reading Here Be Dragons and found it also a brilliant read. I don't know Welsh history, especially in the time of King John and Henry III. When I read Sunne in Splendour,although I enjoyed reading it, I knew what was going to happen whereas with Here Be Dragons, I didn't know what was going to happen next.

It is well written and Sharon Penman is, I feel, one of the best writers in historical fiction.

At the moment I'm reading Falls the Shadow which is the sequel to Here Be Dragons. I've also bought The Reckoning and they're quite long books so it will keep me reading for a while.
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on 12 July 2014
I have read several of Sharon Penman's books including the wonderful Sunne In Splendour and I do think of all the excellent historical writers she is the best. I find her books very educational and totally enthralling. This is the first of a trilogy and tells the story of the welsh Prince Lewellyn and his wife Joanna who was King John's illegitimate daughter. It is their love story which made this book really special for me though there is plenty of action with strife between England and Wales. I read well into the night and my only problem was that I didn't order the second book early enough and I had to wait a couple of days watching the postman and willing it to come so I could get on with the story. Happily I am now well into it and will order the third volume in plenty of time!
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on 12 March 2015
Took a long time to read..but because it interested me,for i have a holiday place in Anglesey I ploughed through it and learned a valuable history lesson regards the north Wales princes of Wales ie Llewellyn, etc. And the real battles between England and Wales.I have now got the sequels to this book and will read them at my leisure while I am visiting some of the places that are still existing, And although it is going to take me a long time I will endeavour to enjoy the sequels,Falls The Shadows and The Reckoning.I am a relative new reader to this author so any feedback would be apppreciated...
There are numerous locations still of interest.My mind has been broadened and I thank the author Sharon Pennman ,sincerely,for making me aware of my Anglesey 1300 century history
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on 27 August 2013
I picked this book at random many years ago purely because of the title. Being half Welsh I knew that this was what was written on the West of early maps to indicate it was unknown territory. I like that. I read the book and can safely say it is my favourite book of all time but, not only that, it awakened an interest in the history of the Middle Ages that I had never had during school days.....around 50 yeas earlier! I have since read all of Sharon's books, many times, each time logging another snippet of History in the wonderful complex pattern that she weaves.....Cannot recommend her books highly enough. I even have spare copies to loan out so that I am never without a copy myself...despite having them on my Kindle too........
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on 15 February 2018
Love this book. First in series of three. I've read them all a few times making my paperbacks tatty. This in the Kindle library will mean I can read them anytime. Sharon Penman's books have a good balance between history and a novel that is readable.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 19 March 2009
Sharon Penman is probably my favourite historical novelist and I always think it's such a shame she's written so few books. This is the first in a trilogy spanning the century between 1183 and 1283, the reigns of Henry II, Richard I, John, Henry III and Edward I, largely about the conflict between England and Wales. This one largely concerns Llewelyn Fawr and his wife Joanna, illegitimate daughter of King John, and to say I love it would be an understatement. Sharon Penman's books are, I would say, the best out there for capturing historical detail - you really feel you're in the period as you read them. And she's wonderful at bringing to life long-dead characters from the past, painting them so vividly that you really come to love them. I sometimes think she's the reason for so many of my historical heroes - most particularly Richard III and Simon de Montfort.
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