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Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

Here Be Dragons (1985)

by Sharon Kay Penman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,757434,013 (4.35)156
  1. 10
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  4. 10
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  5. 00
    Storyteller by G. R. Grove (cuffindell)
    cuffindell: Recommended for readers who love Welsh history. Grove's prose is lyrical, her research excellent, and her portrayal of 6th century Wales vivid.
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Tale of Welch prince Llewellen, and Joanna, the daughter of England's King John. Good transition from Lionhearted, and moves English historical timeline forward. First of the Welch trilogy, but since its such a big book I'll wait a while before moving on to the next book. I love this author! ( )
  Pmaurer | Oct 29, 2013 |
This book probably deserves more than 5 stars just for the depth of research and mind-boggling amount of information that is contained within its pages. Penman clearly knows her stuff! That said, there were times where information was just sort of dumped in short paragraphs to cover jumps in time that read a bit heavy. Although admittedly I can't imagine any way anyone could have gotten around that when trying to cover such a long span of time and going into such detail. So it probably couldn't be helped. Be prepared for a huge cast of characters in this book that cover generations and that then share names and titles. It can get confusing.

I have to say this book damn near broke my heart at times. I suppose thats a sign of a good book though, right? I literally lost sleep over certain parts (and maybe missed some work as well), most notably during the last 100 pages. I love historical fiction, but I often read as a form of escapism so don't typically like things too heavy. And perhaps that has made me soft and not as able to appreciate a realistic relationship between two people because I felt that Llewelyn and Joanna fought too much. I felt that Penman wrote about their quarrels so much more frequently than the good times that I couldn't feel the love between them as much. Or maybe I'm just not very good as appreciating a more subtle romance and prefer to have so much romance shoved down my throat that I practically choke on it :) Whatever the case may be, it wasn't until the very very end that I truly appreciated their love for each other.

I knew beforehand about the "scandal" that occurs in the last 100 pages of the book and was worried about how Penman would handle that because I thought the character she had created and the actions of the actual person wouldn't feel logical, but I thought she pulled it off really well. Penman created believable characters that coincide with the accounts that we have of them. John was a really interesting character to read about given that my main source of information on him came from Robin Hood. So it was interesting to see this different, and probably more realistic, depiction of him.

I loved learning about Wales. I know so little, feel like it is so overlooked, but so interesting. And now I just want to know more!

This book is very good, but exhaustive. I just finished reading it and feel like I need to take a break before I pick up my next book! ( )
  emmytuck | Sep 27, 2013 |
I loved this book;one of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction is because of the opportunity to sink into a time period and know that the events and characters are drawn from what really occurred. Penman does this exceeding well and I could not put this book down until I had read it to the very last page. The primary characters of Joanna and Llewelyn have so much depth - I could not help but fall in love with their relationship and root for a happy ending. You can certainly tell that Penman did her research - which must of been slow-going and time consuming - to bring this story to life. Her notes at the end of the book were just as fascinating as the story itself. This will be a book that I will definitely be reading again. ( )
  MichelleCH | Apr 5, 2013 |
Llewelyn the Great and the Welsh, mostly through the eyes of Joanna, daughter of King John, wife of Llewelyn. Very complex, interesting and well-written. I need a much firmer grounding in the events of the 13th century, though. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
by Sharon Kay Penman

Remember when I read A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver and ended by saying that "I’d like to read a more thorough biography of Eleanor [of Aquitaine:]"? Yes, well now I really want to read a biography. This book, the first of a trilogy ended up on my TBR list under circumstances I have now forgotten. I got it from inter-library loan and thought, "Oh, a big book! Ooh, Wales! Erm, paper to write." So it got put on hold until Thursday, when I devoured all 700 pages in a day. Because, WALES! Twelfth century Wales! And Eleanor of Aquitaine made a fairly significant appearance, as did King John and his daughter Joanna.

I just read that paragraph and it makes everything sound very boring. It isn't! It's exciting, with battles and seiges, and it also has a nice bit of romance and personal struggles for the main characters (Llewellyn and Joanna). And it's part of the wonderful tradition of historical fiction which takes a mostly-forgotten figure and brings them vividly to life.

Apparently Penman wrote a book about Richard III, which I will have to read. I love Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time and went and looked at Richard's portrait in the National Portrait Gallery. (I also love the National Portrait Gallery and would like to live there, thank you very much. But that's a different story.) Anyway, Richard III as done by Penman sounds great, so yay!

Content advisory: This is definitely an adult book. That said, it is (as far as I can tell) pretty accurate historically.
Book source: Central Washington University ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:20 -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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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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