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The Shield of Three Lions by Pamela Kaufman
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The Shield of Three Lions (1983)

by Pamela Kaufman

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451732,880 (3.44)1 / 19

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English (6)  Spanish (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
did not like at all
  nraichlin | Jan 26, 2016 |
I picked this one expecting a solid historical romance fiction book set during the Third crusade with young adult flavor.

Sure enough, the protagonist is an eleven-year-old girl, and the plot is linear, a coming-of-age-quest story with gender-bender elements but it is, by my standards, wholly adult. First of all Alix, the protagonist, is basically the only character so young, then the book deals a lot with very delicate subjects, ones that may be out of the comfort zone for some, like rape, ghastly superstitions, the treatment of women as chattel, 'peccatum illud' and sexual awakening at tender age. However, the culture is the Middle-Ages' and the whole story is from the point of view of child Alix, certainly not well-versed to worldly affairs and perils, but all her experiences, the sorrow, the joy, the horror and the feelings she discovers are conveyed through her eyes and untried perceptions, rendering some crude passages and the moral decay behind the gilt with appropriate tact.

The historical background is really a protagonist in itself, the beginning of the Crusade from England to France to Sicily to Cyprus and Acre, it feels vivid and it is probably accurate, along with the right dose of speculation and fiction.
I never had a strong feeling of deliberate gruesomeness but the author goes a little for shock value, in the historical events and most prominently in depicting the medieval society of the time.

Welcomed tropes, plot stretching, time skips, improbable expedients and convenient bends are also present, not too obtrusive for the whole structure of the tale, the historical part is surely stronger (including a certain irony on the Church, the "sheep masses", the game of kings and religion in general) than the characterization or the plot anyway. I had an easy time accepting what was going on, after all some aspects were so exaggerated (like the impromptu I-am-a-boy antics) I think I was expected to overlook the fantastic.
The protagonist is compelling but not always consistent, she is terribly naive in a scene and a consummate manipulator in another, but on the whole the story flows nicely and I liked it. The portrayal of Richard The Lion-Heart is a mix of history, myth and speculation, oh yes I liked it. The Scot protagonist speaks a very peculiar dialect, I guess it may be another technique of the author to stress authenticity, a bit confusing at first since all the others speak modernly with a choice of archaic colloquialisms or expressions like "I trowe" or sooth supplanting truth. Not detracting.

In short, a nice read, light on characterization, entertaining on history, even-paced and surely not lacking in humor. Of course I'll read the sequel.
But I wasn't really prepared to an encounter with Robin Hood. ( )
  Alissa- | Jun 5, 2015 |
Alix of Wanthwaite makes for a lively, albeit naive, narrator in this adventurous tale set among medieval castles, crusades, secretive kings, and chivalrous knights. After her father's castle is raided and her parents' are brutally murdered, Alix assumes the disguise of a boy to travel to the king to regain her lost estate. Along the way, she gains a quarrelsome Scot as a travelling companion and finds herself embarking on crusade with King Richard I. Alix makes for a spirited narrator, although her naivety can be exasperating as the reader is likely to guess many of the secrets and twists before Alix discovers them. Nevertheless, fun reading. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | May 17, 2014 |
Pamela Kaufman has attempted to write an alternate version of Joan of Arc. But I found this story far less than inspiring. Packed with corruption, greed, rape and other ever so savoury concepts of human morality, an otherwise innocent teenage girl pretends to be a boy to join the crusades.

I found it overall a fairly unpleasant book. I would not recomend it. ( )
  Tcubed | Sep 26, 2010 |
I loved the way Kaufman describes her characters in such detail that you believe you have met them. I felt part of the journey and story. Alix now Alex in disguise, the child of slain parents, travels to King Richard to restore her rightful ownership to Wanthwaite. Alex is so well described that I begin to believe Alex is not female too. But she is and Kaufman weaves a story of clever disguise, games and deceit with humor and cunning up to the last chapter. I loved it and look forward to the sequel...Banners of Gold. ( )
2 vote WisteriaLeigh | Jan 27, 2008 |
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Epigraph
The age of gold returns,
The world's reform is night;
The rich man now made low,
The pauper raised on high!
~Twelfth-Century Song
Dedication
To Charlie
First words
A clattering rumble shattered my sleep.
Quotations
"Yes, you're growing up boy. But you're growing up the wrong direction."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
When knighthood was in flower and troubadours sand, when men fought long bloody crusades and women obeyed, a stout-hearted young girl cut her golden locks and rode as a boy from her English castle to the battlefields of the Holy Land to the bed of the king himself, mingling with bawds and minstrels, courtiers and soldiers, she hid her true sex and noble ancestry, sought to regain her lost land and - in spit of everything - to become a woman.
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Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0609809466, Paperback)

The return of a classic, by bestselling author Pamela Kaufman.

“Richly rewarding, superbly written. . . . The richness of the characters, the historical details, and the story as a whole make this novel a memorable reading experience.”—Chicago Sun-Times

Eleven-year-old Alix is the daughter of the baron of Wanthwaite, whose lands along the Scottish border are among the best in England. But when her family is killed and her lands seized, Alix is forced to flee from the only home she’s ever known. Her one hope of restoring her inheritance is to plead her case to King Richard the Lion Heart, who is far away in France, preparing to go on his Crusade. Alix resolves to follow him. She cuts her hair, dresses as a boy, and takes the road south to London.

Disguised as a beautiful young boy, Alix is more than befriended by the handsome and mysterious King Richard, even becoming his favorite page. Their relationship sets tongues wagging and places Alix in considerable danger as the battle for Jerusalem unfolds.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:44 -0400)

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