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About Sharon Penman
PS I added a few new photos recently but could find no way to add captions. So this is the best I can do. The swordsman showing me how to use a medieval sword is a friend and fellow writer, David Blixt, who is also a very talented actor; when this photo was taken, he'd just put on a remarkable demonstration of swordplay at the Historical Novel Society convention in Denver. And the photo of me on that bench was taken by my Australian friend, Paula Mildenhall, at a French winery on our Eleanor of Aquitaine Tour, which was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
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The Kingdom of Jerusalem, also known as Outremer, is the land far beyond the sea. Baptized in blood when the men of the First Crusade captured Jerusalem from the Saracens in the early twelfth century, the kingdom defined an utterly new world, a land of blazing heat and a medley of cultures, a place where enemies were neighbors and neighbors became enemies.
At the helm of this growing kingdom sits young Baldwin IV, an intelligent and courageous boy committed to the welfare and protection of his people. But despite Baldwin's dedication to his land, he is afflicted with leprosy at an early age and the threats against his power and his health nearly outweigh the risk of battle. As political deception scours the halls of the royal court, the Muslim army--led by the first sultan of Egypt and Syria, Saladin--is never far from the kingdom's doorstep, and there are only a handful Baldwin can trust, including the archbishop William of Tyre and Lord Balian d'Ibelin, a charismatic leader who has been one of the few able to maintain the peace.
Filled with drama and battle, tragedy and romance, Sharon Kay Penman's latest novel brings a definitive period of history vividly alive with a tale of power and glory that will resonate with readers today.
In When Christ and His Saints Slept, the newest addition to her highly acclaimed novels of the middle ages, and the first of a trilogy that will tell the story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, master storyteller and historian Sharon Kay Penman illuminates one of the less-known but fascinating periods of English history. It begins with the death of King Henry I, son of William the Conqueror and father of Maude, his only living legitimate offspring.
“The great Crusader king Richard the Lionheart comes alive in all his complex splendor in this masterpiece of medieval tapestry.”—Margaret George
A.D. 1189. After the death of his father, Henry II, and the early demise of two of his brothers, Richard is crowned King of England and immediately sets off for the Holy Land. This is the Third Crusade, marked by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. Richard’s surviving brother, the younger John, is left behind—and conspires with the French king to steal his brother’s throne. Only their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, now freed from decades of captivity, remains to protect Richard’s interests and secure his destiny.
In this engrossing saga, Sharon Kay Penman delivers a novel of passion, intrigue, battle, and deceit. Lionheart is a sweeping tale of a heroic figure—feared by his enemies and beloved by those he commanded—who became a legend in his own lifetime.
“[Sharon Kay] Penman displays her usual grasp of sweeping historical events as well as an uncanny ability to get inside the hearts and minds of her real-life characters. Her reputation for character-driven, solidly detailed historicals is richly deserved.”—Booklist
“The beautifully described settings and the characters’ interactions are simply outstanding.”—The Historical Novels Review
“Penman takes historical writing to a whole new level.”—The Sacramento Bee
“[A] gritty, unsentimental, and richly detailed epic.”—Publishers Weekly
Don’t miss the exclusive conversation between Sharon Kay Penman and Margaret George at the back of the book.
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.
The classic, magnificent bestselling novel about Richard III, now in a special thirtieth anniversary edition with a new preface by the author
In this triumphant combination of scholarship and storytelling, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III—vilified as the bitter, twisted, scheming hunchback who murdered his nephews, the princes in the Tower—from his maligned place in history.
Born into the treacherous courts of fifteenth-century England, in the midst of what history has called The War of the Roses, Richard was raised in the shadow of his charismatic brother, King Edward IV. Loyal to his friends and passionately in love with the one woman who was denied him, Richard emerges as a gifted man far more sinned against than sinning.
With revisions throughout and a new author's preface discussing the astonishing discovery of Richard's remains five centuries after his death, Sharon Kay Penman's brilliant classic is more powerful and glorious than ever.
November 1192. After his bloody crusade in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Richard and his crew are overcome by a sudden storm, its fierce winds propelling the ship onto the Sicilian shore. But this misfortune is just the beginning. Forced to make a dangerous choice, Richard finds himself in enemy territory, where he is captured—in violation of the papal decree protecting all crusaders—and handed over to the Holy Roman Emperor. Imprisoned in the notorious fortress at Trifels, from which few ever leave alive, Richard, for the first time in his life, experiences pure, visceral fear—while his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, moves heaven and earth to secure his release. Amid betrayals, intrigues, infidelities, wars, and illness, Richard’s courage and intelligence will become legend.
Simon de Montfort was a man ahead of his time in the thirteenth century, a disinherited Frenchman who talked his way into an English earldom and marriage with a sister of the English king, Henry III. A charismatic, obstinate leader, Simon soon lost patience with the king's incompetence and inability to keep his word, and found himself the champion of the common people.
This is his story, and the story of Henry III, as weak and changeable as Simon was brash and unbending. It is a tale of opposing wills that would eventually clash in a storm of violence and betrayal—an irresistible saga that brings the pages of history completely, provocatively, and magnificently alive.
He was nineteen when they married, she eleven years his senior, newly divorced from the King of France. She was beautiful, headstrong, intelligent, and rich. It was said he was Fortune's favorite, but he said a man makes his own luck. Within two years, Henry had made his, winning the throne of England and exercising extraordinary statecraft skills to control his unruly barons, expand his own powers, and restore peace to a land long torn by banditry and bloodshed. Only in one instance did Henry err: Elevating his good friend and confidant Thomas Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury, he thought to gain control over the Church itself. But the once worldly Becket suddenly discovered God, and their alliance withered in the heat of his newfound zeal. What Becket saw as a holy mission-to protect the Church against State encroachments-Henry saw as arrant betrayal, and they were launched inevitably on the road to murder.
Rich in character and color, true to the historical details, sensitive to the complex emotions of these men and women, Time and Chance recreates their story with all the drama, pain, and passion of the moment.
Epiphany, 1193: the road out of Winchester was hidden by snow, and Justin de Quincy was making slow progress when he heard the first faint shout. It came again, louder and clearer, a cry for help. Spurring his stallion, de Quincy raced toward the source.
But he was already too late. As the two assailants fled, de Quincy cradled the dying man, straining to make out his whispered words. "They did not get it," he rasped. "Promise me. You must deliver this letter to her. To the queen."
Eleanor of Aquitaine sits on England's throne. At seventy, she has outlived the husband with whom she had once scandalized the world. But has she also outlived her favorite, her first-born son? Richard Lionheart, England's king, has been missing these last months. It is rumored that he is dead. Many think his youngest brother plots to steal the crown. Only Eleanor's fierce will can keep John from acting on his greed. Only a letter, splattered with the blood of a dying man murdered on the Winchester road, can tell her if Richard still lives.
With the same sure touch she has brought to her historical fiction, Sharon Kay Penman turns to the mystery form. Setting her story in a period she captured brilliantly in earlier novels, she introduces Justin de Quincy. Bastard-born, de Quincy is the son of a high cleric who never acknowledged him, bestowing on the boy--in lieu of name or fortune--only an education. As it happens, it is a gift that will take young de Quincy into the very centers of power--and into the heart of danger, making him the Queen's man.
Moving from the royal chambers in the Tower of London to the alehouses and stews of Southwark, from the horrors of Newgate Gaol to the bustling streets of Winchester, de Quincy proves his mettle as he tracks a brutal and cunning murderer and uncovers the sinister intrigues of Eleanor's court.
A.D. 1172. Henry II’s three eldest sons conspire against him and align themselves with his greatest enemy, King Louis of France, but it’s Eleanor of Aquitaine’s involvement in the plot to overthrow her husband that proves to be the harshest betrayal. As a royal family collapses and a marriage ends in all but name, the clash between these two strong-willed and passionate souls will have far-reaching and devastating consequences throughout Christendom.
"Penman's characters are so shrewdly imagined, so full of resonant human feeling that they seem to breathe on the page." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Never forget, Llewelyn, that the world's greatest fool is a Welshman who trusts an English king."
His father's words haunt Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, who has been ruling uneasily over his fractious countrymen. Above all else, Llewelyn fears that his life and his own dream—of an independent, united Wales—might be lost to Edward I's desire to expand his English empire.
Alive from the pages of history, this is the hauntingly beautiful and compelling tale of a game poised to play itself out to its bloody finale as English and Welsh cross swords in a reckoning that must mean disaster for one side or the other.
For anyone who has ever wanted to experience the rich tapestry of British history and lore, this bold and romantic adventure must be read.
July 1193: Richard Lionheart, eldest and most favored son of Dowager Queen Eleanor of Aquitane, languishes in an Austrian dungeon, held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor. Lusting after the crown in England, his brother John plots with his country's bitterest foe, King Philippe of France, to see to it Richard never leaves Austria alive. But the Queen has already begun to meet the ransom demands, and it is only a matter of time before the Austrians turn over their royal prisoner. And then one of the ransom payments vanishes in the fastnesses of Wales, itself wracked by rebellion and intrigue. Into this maelstrom, Eleanor sends her trusted man, Justin de Quincy—and murder soon follows...