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Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

Here Be Dragons (1985)

by Sharon Kay Penman

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1,976493,426 (4.33)163
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My husband says it's overly romanticized, and he's no doubt right, but it's such a great read. I could barely put it down yesterday. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
An enjoyable tour through the late 1100s/early 1200s in England, France and Wales, but with a focus on Wales. An interesting fictional look at political allegiances, way of life, beliefs and laws under the cover of historical fiction. The intermarriages and complexities of family are well described. ( )
  devilish2 | Aug 4, 2016 |
This is a favorite book--one I read years (decades?) ago yet still remember lines and scenes from. One of those rare books that have moved me to tears. I've read a lot of Sharon Kay Penman's books--I'm currently reading her latest release and then will have no more of her to read until "Prince of Darkness" comes out. This one and "Sunne in Splendor" are by far my two favorites, the two I'd rate a full five stars. Not only engrossing, solidly ground historical fiction but one of the best love stories I've ever read. I'm not saying this is deathless literature--there are aspects of Penman's style I find clunky (point of view, dialogue tags, etc) But that doesn't stop me from flat-out loving this book. ( )
1 vote LisaMaria_C | Apr 21, 2016 |
This first instalment in Penman’s England/Wales trilogy paints a magnificent portrait of the personalities and politics at the heart of the 13th century conflict between England and Wales. Penman’s richly drawn characters come right from the pages of history and she completely pulls you into their world. This book does not disappoint. ( )
1 vote Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
It seems I am forever qualifying my reviews. Well a qualifier here, or perhaps two: 1–it took me nearly 2 months to finish this puppy (and I thought about abandoning it several times, but then I’d read a chapter and get sucked back in), and 2–I have a serious level of jealousy toward Penman and her success (she too was a lawyer (tax, of all horrible things!)–and now, lucky girl, she never has to be again!).

Shannon Penman is a terrific writer. Read a chapter, just one, close your eyes and take the tiniest effort and you will be able to vividly imagine that you are there. Being able to paint so well with words though has its drawbacks–neither she nor her editor could imagine cutting much of the over 700 page beast that is Here Be Dragons. The first significant chunk of the book, maybe up to 1/4 or even 1/3 of the book takes place before the two main characters meet. The book is supposed to be about the love story between Bad King John’s bastard daughter Joanna and Llewelyn the Great of Wales. And it is a lovely story, and it doesn’t cheat you on the love story between them, the angst and agony of Joanna’s love being split between her father and husband. But it does go on and on and on and on.

I think part of the reason why I kept putting it down was utter frustration with Joanna–she was so utterly undeserving of Llewelyn. While he wasn’t a perfect husband, he was certainly far more understanding of her fits, childishness, and the million times she stabbed him in the back to try and do right by her father. I think she was in a complicated position but she was one of those horribly misguided souls who forever seemed to be making wrong decisions out of selflessness for her love of those around her, but when you really step back and look at it, she was ridiculously selfish. Had the book been half its size, I might not have been so disenchanted with her by the end.

Speaking of the end, I felt a bit on the cheated side. After a seemingly almost impossible reconciliation between the two — it skips a few years, and then they die. I wanted to reach into the book and shake someone.

Despite the great talent Penman has, I doubt I will read anything else by her. At least not until I’m in retirement and have all the time in the world to read books that, while good, do go on, and on, and on. ( )
  mullgirl | Jun 8, 2015 |
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Prologue: Theirs was a land of awesome grandeur, a land of mountains and moorlands and cherished myths.
Book One: Chapter 1: Shropshire, England, July 1183: He was ten years old and an alien in an unfriendly land, made an unwilling exile by his mother's marriage to a Marcher border lord.
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Book description
Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England’s ruthless, power-hungry King John. Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce by marrying the English king’s beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, who slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband. But as John’s attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales---and Llewelyn---Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie.

The turbulent clashes of two disparate worlds and the destinies of the individuals caught between them spring to life in this magnificent novel of power and passion, loyalty and lies. The book that began the trilogy that includes Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, Here Be Dragons brings thirteenth-century England, France, and Wales to tangled, tempestuous life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345382846, Paperback)

"A masterful picture of Wales in the 13th century...vivdly pictured as grandly beautiful, its people volatile, stubborn and mystic."
Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England's ruthless, power-hungry King John. Then Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce with England by marrying the English king's beloved, illegitimate daughter, Joanna. Reluctant to wed her father's bitter enemy, Joanna slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband who dreams of uniting Wales. But as John's attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales--and Llewelyn--Joanna must decide to which of these powerful men she owes her loyalty and love.
A sweeping novel of power and passion, loyalty and lives, this is the book that began the trilogy that includes FALLS THE SHADOW and THE RECKONING.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:07 -0400)

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A thirteenth-century Welsh prince called Llewelyn the Great tries to wrest his country from England. Standing in his way is King John who marries his daughter to Llewelyn in hopes of taming the rebellious prince.

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LibraryThing Author

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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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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