13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Unstoppable force meets immovable object,
This review is from: Time and Chance (Hardcover)
"What miserable drones and traitors I have nourished and promoted in my household, who let their lord be mocked so shamefully by a lowborn clerk!"
Thus, in TIME AND CHANCE, is author Sharon Kay Penman's version of the angry words that compelled four of Henry II's knights to commit one of the most famous assassinations in Western European history, that of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
The second in an ostensible series of three works of historical fiction - the last has yet to appear - about the first Plantagenet King of England and his consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine, this volume spans the period 1156 - 1171. Woven into the plot are the four pivotal events (for historians, novelists and screenwriters, at least) of that period: Henry's subjugation of the Welsh king, Owain Gwynedd, Henry's taking of Rosamund Clifford as his mistress, Henry's disastrous relationship with Becket, and the crowning of Henry's oldest son, Young Henry, as Ol' Dad's heir apparent.
Judging from Penman's other novels, she has a fascination with medieval Wales. Here, she fleshes out much of the Owain Gwynedd subplot through a completely fictional character, Ranulf Fitz Roy, carried over from the first book in the series, WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT, which dealt with that period of English civil war before Henry II's accession when his mother Maude, the daughter of Henry I, fought to dethrone the then English monarch, Stephen. As Sharon would have it, Ranulf was an illegitimate son of Henry I by a Welsh mistress, and therefore half-brother to Maude and half-uncle to Henry II. In any case, I accepted his presence in the first book because the main player in the series, Henry II, had yet to take center stage. Now, with the fully developed characters of Henry II, Eleanor and Becket, Ranulf's presence doesn't do much more than pad the novel to an unnecessary length and, for that reason, I'm reluctantly knocking off a star. Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor are, for me, the two most interesting individuals in history, and their dysfunctional family life provides more than enough entertainment without the introduction of a make-believe ringer.
For English history buffs, TIME AND CHANCE provides a gripping perspective on the calamitous collision between the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury, especially as the dialogues that occurred between the two men in the book, as well as the circumstances of Becket's murder, are, according to Penman, transcribed from numerous eyewitness accounts.
I've been looking forward to the release of the third book in the trilogy for quite some time, and I wish Penman would get on with it.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Jun 2013 09:14:29 BDT
G. Swain says:
I don't know when this critique was written, but I have had all the novels in the Henry II trilogy on my bookshelves for several years now. Sharon Penman for me is one of the best historical fiction writers around. Although I also value Ian Mortimer with his studies of Edward III and his time.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2013 12:48:13 BDT
Mr. Joe says:
February 13, 2006.
The last in the trilogy, THE DEVIL'S BROOD, was finally released in 2009.
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