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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2003
This is a fascinating book, which brings to life a whole range of great female leaders - rescuing several from insulting obscurity.
The catch, unfortunately, is a couple of quite difficult chapters to introduce the book. The concept of the duality of a female leader as a real figure signified by 'Boudica' and the creature of legend 'Boadicea' is clever and sustained convincingly throughout the book, it's unfortunate that the exposition of the theory is such heavy going. Boadicea, for me anyway, is one of the least interesting figures in the book. Largely, I guess from the familarlity of her legend and the stage on which it was played.
That aside, the book is full of fascinating detail about a whole range of figures from varied historical periods and from across the world. Personal favourites of mine are Tamara of Georgia and Zenobia.
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on 18 March 2007
This book gives a fairly entertaining account of the lives of some little known women in history (such as Tomyris of the Massagetai, Zenobia of Palmyra, Matilda of Tuscany, Queen Jinga of Angola and Queen Louise of Prussia) on whom there is perhaps not enough material to warrant full biographies. Fraser also deals with better known figures such as Elizabeth I, Isabella of Spain and Margaret Thatcher.

The various chapters are all linked by the theory that such "warrior queens" have a lot in common with each other when it comes to their contemporaries' and posterity's treatment of them. Fraser uses the figure of Boadicea, to whose life and legend she returns in each chapter, to provide this link.

Although I felt it didn't really work, I respected the author's attempt to synthesise the material with some overarching theories on the nature of female rule. However, the terminology she uses to describe the characteristics of warrior queens (such as appendage syndrome, voracity syndrome, "only a weak woman" syndrome) seemed a little forced at times. Moreover her spurious distinction between "Boudica" to describe the historical Queen of the Iceni and "Boadicea" to describe the legendary figure which lives on in literature and the popular conciousness, was a little annoying.

At two places in the book Fraser stated things that were factually incorrect. The first instance of this was on p. 224 she writes that Miguel, the Portugese prince who could have united Iberia into one kingdom had he survived infancy, was the son of Isabella I's daughter Maria. In fact he was the son of Isabella's eldest daughter, Isabella. Secondly, on p. 279 she states that Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia was Catherine the Great's mother-in-law. In fact Elizabeth was the aunt, not mother, of Catherine's husband. Such errors were downright shoddy from a historical biographer of Fraser's (supposed) ability.

I'm glad I only read this book on the train on the way to work rather than saving it as a holiday or weekend read, because it was entertaining only insofar as I didn't think too much about it. Having said that I recently gave Fraser a second chance by buying her biography of Mary Queen of Scots in a discount book shop for 3 pounds. I'm hoping this will redeem her.
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on 21 June 2015
Started well and trailed off - really enjoyed the Boudica at the start, Queen Zenobia was okay, Matilda... just didn't work for me and I gave up half way through that chapter.
This is likely a book to dip into rather than read all the way through. I will go back and finish in smaller doses - as I really want to read about Queen Jinga of Angola just not so enough that I am prepared to wade through whatever is between where I stopped and where that chapter starts.
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on 22 February 2015
I enjoy Antonia Fraser books but I'm afraid this one did not hold my attention like others have, too much jumping about, even during the stories of just one person. I am an avid history reading but lost interest several times. However please don't let this put you off, it is still a book worth getting.
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on 22 February 2015
I was a bit disappointed there was not as much information about Boudica herself
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on 30 December 2016
Overall, it is good. Almost like a new one!
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on 14 April 2016
Arrived in excellent condition - thanks
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on 6 August 2014
Antonia Frase can do no wrong!
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on 7 February 2015
good love it.
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