Tuesday, June 2, 2015

REVIEW: The Chosen Queen


Publisher: Macmillan
Page Count: 352 pages
Format: Hardcover
How got book: Personal library
Why read: tale of a little known woman that history forgot.... yes, please!
From GoodReads:
1066: A date that changed the course of history; a date that changed her life forever

Love should be free - that is what Edyth Alfgarsdottir has always believed. As a young girl she witnessed Earl Harold standing barefoot in his handfast marriage to the beautiful Lady Svana and has yearned for her own love match ever since.

Amongst England's royal court, marriages are not often chosen for love and political matches are rife while King Edward is still without an heir. When her family are exiled to the wild Welsh court, Edyth unexpectedly finds herself falling for the charismatic Griffin - first King of all of Wales. Becoming his Queen catapults Edyth onto the opposing side of a bitter feud between England and Wales. She has to grow up fast but has the support and encouragement of her closest friend, Lady Svana.

Years later, Edyth is in line to take the crown of England. This time the lines of love and duty are far more blurred. As 1066 dawns, Edyth and Svana will be asked to make an even greater sacrifice, perhaps the greatest of all. In the midst of war, can love - and freedom - survive?
My Thoughts:
Star Rating - 5 Stars
I remember reading about Edyth as a kid in Morgan Llewelyn’s WingFrom Hastings. I was really young and so only remember vague impressions, like remembering that Harold was a big bully and her brothers were toads. It was a real treat to re-visit this era and these people specifically to get another look at them.
For a debut novel, this author has done a fantastic job. She took a lot of time in her world building and research of details. The reader gets a real sense for the sights, sounds, and smells of late Anglo-Saxon England and wild Wales. The intense political situation the characters found themselves in was thoroughly explored and made for suspenseful reading. I also was very fascinated by all the details on hand fasting vs traditional Roman religious weddings and the differences thereof.
 All the characters and their various relationships made for enthralling reading. To see Edyth, Harold, and all the others come alive again was a real treat. The author gives them real depth of emotion, personality, and understanding. I especially liked Edyth and her understanding of the various political situations and her place in them. Being married to two men who are enemies and the particular situation with Harold/Svana showed her maturity and clear thinking. I also liked how real she felt in her sensual nature and curiosity, like any other girl/woman her age.
 Altogether, I feel that this is a robust start of Joanna Courtney’s new trilogy and total career. She tells a great story, gets the historical details right, and makes her characters and their relationships breathe with depth and realism. I definitely look forward to more works by her; I feel she’s going to be among the greats for me.


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