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Prince of Darkness by Sharon Kay Penman
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Prince of Darkness (2005)

by Sharon Kay Penman

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I've read most of Ms. Penman's historical novels and loved them. So I decided to try one of her historical mysteries and picked up this one.
Justin de Quincey works for Eleanor of Aquitaine usually but in this book, he is mostly working for her son, Prince John. There is a plot to implicate John (not difficult as he's usually working some treason against his brother Richard), but in this case, he's innocent. Justin travels in Brittany in an attempt to find the evidence to clear John's name.
I enjoyed the book, but not nearly so much as her books like The Sunne in Splendor or the Welsh prince trilogy. This is apparently the fourth book in the series, but it wasn't difficult to pick up the story and identify the characters who must have appeared in the previous books. The story was okay, not all that much of a mystery though in my opinion. Still, it's a fine read for historical fiction readers. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Jun 8, 2018 |
An entertaining historical fiction, more adventure than mystery. There's a murder, and hidden motives, but no real detection, and so few suspects that a random guess has 50% chance of being right. What makes the novel worthwhile is the historical context -- 12th century England, during Prince John's reign while King Richard was off to the Crusades. Sorry, Robin Hood does not appear. The author's end note makes much of the fact that at this time in history, the kings of England often spoke no English. The hero of this and three previous books is Justin de Quincy, the Queen's Man. But Francophobes should fear not -- no French appears, even in short phrases, that I can recall.

If you have not read any of the books in this series, as I had not, this is NOT a good place to start. The first quarter of the book is basically one spoiler after another, as connections to the previous novels are made. After that slow start, things move well.

Recommend for mystery fans who have a higher bar for solid writing than for a challenging mystery, but not as your first encounter with Mr. de Quincy. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Sep 27, 2017 |
I've heard that the four medieval mysteries of which this is the last wasn't as successful as Penman's other books and no more are planned. Which I find a shame. I wasn't impressed with the first two books in the series. I thought the resolution and culprits predictable and Penman herself said in one author's note she wasn't completely comfortable at first dealing with completely fictional characters. The series grew on me though, and I think she grew in her skill in this genre.

I wouldn't put this up there with Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael tales, never mind Eco's Name of the Rose. For that matter, no I don't think these rival Penman at her best. Her "The Sunne in Splendour" and "Here Be Dragons" are favorites of mine I'd rate five stars--these are definitely not in that league. But they are enjoyable and Justin de Quincy has become a friend I'm sorry to leave. Never mind it's a chance to spend time with her Eleanor of Aquitaine and John, the "Prince of Darkness" himself. I suspect that was one allure in writing this. I know having read her trilogy about Henry II and Eleanor I was drawn to reading this series became I didn't want to leave this world--and I'm sorry there'll be no more of them. Although it is a treat to see Justin and Durand inserted in her long historical fiction novel, "A King's Ransom" which I'm reading now. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Apr 29, 2016 |


This book is about the plot of would-be King John & French King Philippe to keep King Richard Lionheart prisoner of Germany. Justin d'Quincy is the "Queen's Man" and is brought into the fray by John in order to protect himself from a forged document stating that he, John, is plotting to kill King Richard.

With no interest in helping John, Justin reluctantly agrees to find the truth of the document when he finds that his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine is also at risk.

The book has many twists and turns; from Brittany, Paris, Mont St. Michele, and back again... it is about the darkness of the times and of the hearts of the men that would rule. There was also quite a bit of violence as the characters grappled for power.

I found the story quite compelling and I read it one day... but I did not really like the characters fictional or otherwise, Royalty or not, most were quite bloodthirsty & distasteful.... I also found the story quite long. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
The fourth and (currently) final book in the Justin de Quincy series finds Justin helping Prince John. When former love, Lady Claudine, tricks Justin into a meeting with King Richard's treacherous brother, Prince John, he is angry and feels betrayed. However, Justin's first loyalty is to Queen Eleanor so he stays and listens to John's request. Prince John has learned through a former lover that he's being suspected of a plot to kill King Richard. The reader may wonder, so what else is new....John has a long history of plots to kill Richard. In this case, John declares he is innocent and believes the plot is actually being carried out by his sister-in-law Constance, widow of his dead brother Geoffrey and mother to his nephew, Arthur, six year old heir to the throne. Prince John is determined to prove his innocence and needs Justin to help.

This was my favorite of the four books and, as usual, Justin becomes involved in all manner of intrigue. The story is set in both England and France and Justin's investigation leads him to Mont St. Michel. One of the best parts of the book is that Justin is forced to team up with longtime nemesis, Durand de Curzon, and fans of the series will get new insight into their relationship. I love the way the author incorporates the murder investigation into the real political and historical events of the time. If you think Sharon Kay Penman has lowered her historical authenticity on this series you would be wrong. It's a very fast paced, suspenseful, tightly plotted and intriguing story and I hope sometime down the road the author gets a chance to pick it up again.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
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For Mic Cheetham
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They came together on a damp December evening in a pirate's den.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425207811, Paperback)

Justin de Quincy hastens to Paris at the request of his former lover only to discover that she was acting on behalf of his nemesis, Prince John. The prince has been implicated in a plot to kill his brother, King Richard, and wants Justin to prove the incriminating document false.

Realizing that John's suspected treachery may also risk the welfare of the woman he serves, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Justin reluctantly agrees to help. But his investigation unravels a sinister conspiracy that might change the course of English history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Justin de Quincy is drawn into a conspiracy when he investigates a forged document that implicates Prince John in a plot to kill his brother King Richard, a scheme that also endangers the woman Justin serves, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

» see all 4 descriptions

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Sharon Kay Penman is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Sharon Kay Penman chatted with LibraryThing members from Aug 10, 2009 to Aug 21, 2009. Read the chat.

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