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The Young Lion by Blanche d'Alpuget
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The Young Lion

by Blanche d'Alpuget

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181861,350 (3.63)None
Geoffrey the Handsome, the virile and charming Duke of Normandy, seduces Queen Eleanor of France to spy for him in the struggle between Normandy and France and Normandy and England. Said to be the most beautiful woman in Europe, and very rich, Eleanor has not been able to give birth to an heir for France. Her liaison with Geoffrey could remedy that - or lead to her downfall and Geoffrey's death. But what begins with cool calculation becomes a passionate affair. Despite his love for Eleanor, however, Geoffrey has larger plans: to help his warrior son, Henry, seize the English throne from the uncle who usurped it from its rightful heir, Henry's mother. When Henry is forced to intervene to save the lives of his father and Eleanor, he falls foul of the French queen - and madly in love with her Byzantine maid. Should he become King of England, however, this dazzling foreign girl will never be acceptable as his queen. These two relationships, both forbidden, both perilous, are at the centre of a tale of consuming ambition, family vengeance and political intrigue set in the glorious flowering of troubadour culture, mysticism and learning that is 12th century France.… (more)

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This is the first of a projected quartet of novels about the Plantagenet dynasty, and opens as the king and queen of France, Louis VII and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine return from the Crusades in 1149. Unhappy in her marriage to the monkish Louis, Eleanor begins an affair with Geoffrey le Bel, Duke of Normandy. Geoffrey wants a spy in the French court and sees Eleanor as ideally placed to assist. Although Geoffrey and Eleanor’s affair becomes passionate, Geoffrey is clearly focussed on his main objective: to see his son Henry become King of England.

The author offered swashbuckling action, fantasy and swan knights (as in Lohengrin) - often on the same page. Some of the characters are simply not believable (like Aelbad); the telepathy thing was distracting and added little to the story; and there was a little too much focus on steamy sex scenes.

With a stronger editor, this book could have been great. At times, the writing was all over the place - more like a late draft, rather than the finished thing. I felt as though I was watching a TV saga loosely based on history, rather than reading historical fiction.

Having said that, I’m interested enough in Ms d’Alpuget’s depiction of Henry to read the second novel in the series. ( )
  Jawin | Mar 8, 2015 |
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