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Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman
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5704617,442 (3.93)78



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I have to admit I’ve never tried to read a book about Richard whilst he was on crusade. I feared it would be boring but it certainly wasn’t. I confess I had a crush on him in Devil’s Brood so I was so excited that this book came out.

Have to feel sorry for Berengaria though, even if the marriage started well. They were so ill-matched that I’m surprised it started that well at all. Sometimes opposites attract and all that but sometimes it’s just too different.

I really liked Joanna and how she could knock some sense into her brother’s head at times. It seems like it’s been too long since I read Devil’s Brood and I tried to remember if we met Joanna in that book also? I can’t remember.

It’s not a fast read but I didn’t find it boring. There’s a huge cast of characters and POV changes that might be annoying to some readers. ( )
  Elysianfield | Feb 8, 2017 |
This book had quiet a slow start for me and took a while getting going, which was a surprise as I usually love Sharon Penman books from the very word go. It did however pick up pace and enjoyment from about the time they got to Cyprus. From this point on it was very enjoyable and difficult to put down. Richard comes across as quite a complex character and slightly different to the way he has been portrayed by many., Sharon Penman does comment on this at the end of the book. How he lived into his forties with the risks he took I will never know! Overall a very enjoyable read but a strange first few chapters with a character who hardly figured in the rest of the book. Overall I would give this 4 stars, although the second half of the book is worthy of 5! ( )
  Andrew-theQM | Jun 20, 2016 |
I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who appreciates extensive details of dates and names of this period. She includes much helpful info at the end under Authors Notes, even apologizes for previous mistakes. ( )
  CathyWacksman | Apr 24, 2016 |
A quote from Carlos Ruiz Zafón: "I think you have to be careful with research in fiction. I believe the best way to use it is to learn a lot yourself about what you're going to write, and then don't really use more than 1% of all the research you've done, at least visibly. ... the effective way to use research in fiction is to internalize it and embed its essence in the narrative fabric of the tale. Information only works in fiction when it plays a dramatic role. Often you read novels in which the author includes much of the research he's done... It could work in a journalistic context or in a nonfiction book, but in literature you need to find a way to incorporate it in the texture, the aesthetics, and the fabric of the world you're building for the reader from a purely narrative point, never as window dressing or as a display of erudition."

Sharon Kay Penman (and her fans) would doubtless disagree with everything Zafón says.
By her own admission, she loves adding "random details straight from the pages of [historical] chronicles" and she says "I tend to be obsessive-compulsive about research!"

The book is indeed excellently researched - but it feels more like reading a history text about Richard the Lionheart than a novel. It relates historic events in detail, even quoting from historical sources within the text. It frequently lists names of people who were present at certain occasions, for no dramatic reason, just because it's known, and one might find it interesting. It IS interesting. It's just not exciting.
I read all near-600 pages of this book, and didn't want to stop part-way through - but neither did I have any trouble putting the book down and doing something else for a while, at any point. I read a bunch of other books before getting around to finishing it.
It will definitely educate you on the circumstances surrounding the Third Crusade, and details of twelfth-century history. But the narrative lacks dramatic tension, even when the events being described are chock-full of drama! The characters didn't really come to life for me, as people. I feel that this is because Penman makes a conscious decision not to 'make up' too much stuff. But it also means that this isn't the sort of book I really prefer.

I got the book as part of the First Reads giveaway. I entered because I'd heard a lot of good things about Penman's books, and even actually own two of them that I'd been 'getting-around-to' reading. I'm sure there are many people out there who love her style of writing, but it's just not the style I most prefer. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This book lacked the high stakes and compelling characters that I loved in the Here Be Dragons series. I had a hard time getting interested in the plot lines or really getting into the life of Richard the way I did with Llewelyn ap Griffyth or Simone de Montfert. I thought the author's note at the end was more interesting than the novel. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Theirs was a story that would rival the legend of King Arthur and Guinevere, his faithless queen.
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They were called "The Devil's Brood," though never to their faces. They were the four surviving sons of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine. With two such extraordinary parents, much was expected of them.

But the eldest-charming yet mercurial-would turn on his father and, like his brother Geoffrey, meet an early death. When Henry died, Richard would take the throne and, almost immediately, set off for the Holy Land. This was the Third Crusade, and it would be characterized by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. And, back in England, by the conniving of Richard's youngest brother, John, to steal his crown.

In Lionheart, Sharon Kay Penman displays her remarkable mastery of historical detail and her acute understanding of human foibles. The result is a powerful story of intrigue, war, and- surprisingly-effective diplomacy, played out against the roiling conflicts of love and loyalty, passion and treachery, all set against the rich textures of the Holy Land.
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Richard, the second surviving son of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine, inherits the throne from his brother, before embarking on the Third Crusade, a conflict that is complicated by the schemes of his usurping brother, John.

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