Menaced By Vikings And Enemies At Court, Queen Emma Defends Her Children And Her Crown In A Riveting Medieval Adventure Readers First Met Emma Of Normandy In Patricia Bracewell S Gripping Debut Novel, Shadow On The Crown Unwillingly Thrust Into Marriage To England S King Thelred, Emma Has Given The King A Son And Heir, But Theirs Has Never Been A Happy Marriage In The Price Of Blood, Bracewell Returns To When A Beleaguered Thelred, Still Haunted By His Brother S Ghost, Governs With An Iron Fist And A Royal Policy That Embraces Murder As Tensions Escalate And Enmities Solidify, Emma Forges Alliances To Protect Her Young Son From Ambitious Men Even From The Man She Loves In The North There Is Treachery Brewing, And When Viking Armies Ravage England, Loyalties Are Shattered And No One Is Safe From The Sword Rich With Intrigue, Compelling Personalities, And Fascinating Detail About A Little Known Period In History, The Price Of Blood Will Captivate Fans Of Both Historical Fiction And Fantasy Novels Such As George R R Martin S Game Of Thrones Series I ve given this a B for narration and an A for content at AudioGals, so 4.5 starsThis is the second book in a trilogy about Emma of Normandy who was Queen of England at the beginning of the eleventh century, some decades before the Norman invasion of 1066 This is a little known period of history and not one often come across in historical fiction, but Patricia Bracewell brings it to vibrant life, skilfully fleshing out historical figures and events to create a compelling and complex story.You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals. I have waited impatiently for the arrival of the second installment of Patricia Bracewell s Emma of Normandy trilogy, and it did not disappoint A surprisingly brief period of time is covered 1006 1012 , leaving much to occur in the final book or maybe we ll get lucky and get than a trilogy, fingers crossed The Price of Blood is action packed, detailing the Viking raids that plagued Aethelred s England during this period.Using the sparse amount of historical documentation that exists regarding Queen Emma and those around her, Bracewell has developed a plausible and exciting story with multifaceted characters and beautifully described scenery It is easy for the reader to imagine themselves within a dark medieval hall, watching invaders from the ramparts, or hearing the news of the gory death of a loved one History is not whitewashed or romanticized, and unknown elements are creatively provided while staying true to what is known.Emma of Normandy is known for what happened to her than what she was truly like, but this author develops her into a character that is strong, yet dutiful Prideful, yet self controlled A despised wife, but loving mother Elements of Emma s life are explained in a way that makes her a woman that I can sympathize with, even if I don t always agree with her.Since the story is also told from the points of view of Aethelred, Athelstan, and Elgiva, we see events fall into place in a way that is often far from what was intended by those who put things in motion Aethelred pushes his sons away, much to his own detriment, out of pride and unearned distrust Athelstan is honorable, even when being otherwise might actually be better for the kingdom Elgiva is as beautiful and selfish as before, but her plans seem to fall apart around her, which made me feel that there was at least some justice in these war torn times.With much left to be resolved, I will anxiously await Bracewell s next installment to learn the fate of each of these captivating characters.Due to my fevered quest to be certain that I got my hands on a copy of this book, I actually ended up with it on Kindle from NetGalley and in hardcover from Viking Publishing I thank both of them for this excellent book Opinions expressed are my own. I enjoyed the first book in this series This book obviously book 3 is in the works could have been cut in half It started out interesting, but slowly turned repetitive Instead of page turning Viking battles, we only heard of them through characters complaining they weren t part of the action The Vikings invading England is a fascinating subject Those details were non existent Instead the author focused on the same 4 themes Emma boring in book 2 was always kept away from her husband who hated her historically we don t know that and always pining for her children Athelstan, angry and always complaining about his father, but never being involved in much except 1 minor battle scene Aethelred always sitting around, seeing his dead brother s ghost complaining how he hated Emma and how he mistrusted everyone and Elgiva the only interesting character even turned dull waiting in the shadows, like mefor something to happen This story had so much potential, but it fell flat I could skim 50 pages and the story would be the same Actually, the story stayed the same from the beginning At the conclusion of book 2..still nothing happened I blame this on the author not telling the story from the heart of the matter Example, it is documented Aethelred sent 80 ships to capture a fleet Instead of being on those boats, seeing and feeling the bad decision, we just hear about it from a complaining character We read, the Vikings did this, the Vikings did that What a page turner this would have been.had we actually been taken to those incidents I know my friends on GRs loved this, I did not. The second installment of Patricia Bracewell s Emma of Normandy trilogy, THE PRICE OF BLOOD Viking, February 5, 2015 , expands and deepens the eleventh century world the author so convincingly recreated in 2013 s SHADOW ON THE CROWN Using the sketchy summary events of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as her warp, Bracewell weaves a richly detailed, compelling tale of ambition, duty, and forbidden love As does the best historical fiction, THE PRICE OF BLOOD immerses its reader in a milieu replete with particulars of time and place in order to better examine the essential constants of human nature As well researched and beautifully drawn as Bracewell s Anglo Saxon England is the author deserves much praise for the deft assurance with which she evokes Britain s far past it is her deeply resonant, finely nuanced characterizations that capture the reader s interest and heart.The novel opens in 1006, with the kingdom of England in the direst of straits Famine stalks the land illness and accident strike down the king s sons, one after the other northern ealdormen, only tenuously loyal to their southern king, grumble and conspire against him No longer satisfied with bribes, Danish Vikings raid and pillage far inland full scale invasion looms Convinced he labors under a curse for having stolen his brother s throne, uneasy King Aethelred defies anyone or anything that seeks to break his hold on the crown Seconded by an upstart advisor as self serving and ruthless as the Danes themselves, Aethelred shuns the advice, and even the presence, of his sons, his proven allies, and his politically astute Norman wife, Queen Emma But try as Aethelred might to shunt her aside, Emma refuses to retire Determined to preserve the kingdom intact for her young son, Aethelred s designated heir, she cultivates a coalition of sympathetic allies and earns the respect and devotion of the English people through her courage and compassion And little though Aethelred will like it, Emma harbors a secret skill that just might prove the key to England s salvation though it could well cost her the trust of the man she loves, the king s eldest son Athelstan.Against the surging backdrop of imminent Danish doom, the four viewpoint characters Emma, Athelstan, Aethelred, and Elgiva, the beautiful, conniving noblewoman set on supplanting Emma as queen seek to order for themselves the demands of loyalty, ambition and love Desperate to preserve his seat on the throne, Aethelred sows division among his nobles and sons, endangering the very existence of the kingdom he rules Athelstan, urged by the king s dismayed allies to wrest the throne for himself, struggles to define what he owes a father whose disastrous indecision all but assures Danish victory and who has repaid his allegiance by naming Emma s son as heir Athelstan s love for Emma only compounds the cost of continued loyalty to his unstable father Wily Elgiva, forced to fend for herself after Aethelred cruelly executes her father and brothers, turns to the Danes for help in landing a throne Her determination to rise by whatever means necessary contrasts sharply with Emma s devotion to her children, her kingdom, and her vows But Emma s selflessness comes at great personal cost, as she can only further her son s future at the expense of Athelstan s standing and happiness With consummate skill, Bracewell stirs the reader s sympathy for each of these characters and their conflicting desires A delicious, compelling tension results, for the reader knows all four cannot succeed Who will triumph and at what price Evoking the pagan mindset that persists alongside the kingdom s official and threatened Christianity, themes of curse and prophecy inform the narrative Aethelred suffers visions of his murdered brother s wraith and believes his reign cursed to failure Athelstan repeatedly seeks out a seeress for guidance, only to be told that fire and smoke will engulf England and calamity awaits the king s sons Wedded to a prophecy that foresaw her as queen, Elgiva embraces the enemy and the dark arts Though restricted by her husband s commands and the conventions of queenship, Emma alone operates unencumbered by preconceived notions of her fate Relying on her faith and wits to guide her, she forges her own destiny, one that may well decide that of her adopted people In the forthcoming third installment of the trilogy, we will discover how well she succeeds.As for author Patricia Bracewell, she has nimbly avoided the curse of the mediocre middle book One need not be a seeress to predict that THE PRICE OF BLOOD will grow her devoted and appreciative audience and establish her as a premier writer of historical fiction today. This is a wonderful second installment to the Emma of Normandy trilogy I loved Ms Bracewell s first novel Shadow on the Crown and I found her to be an extraordinarily talented writer Therefore I am thrilled that she has maintained her high standard into her second novel I loved every minute of this book.Throughout this novel I faced the ongoing terror of Viking invasion right alongside Emma and the people of England Within these pages this era of history has been vividly brought to life and it s most assuredly not pretty It was a dark and brutal time to live and the common person in particular suffered greatly The brilliance of this novel is that both sides of the coin have been shown We do not just see things from the perspective of the Saxon English, but also the perspective of the Danish Emma herself is Norman, struggling to portray herself as English and inspire loyalty in the people of her adopted homeland This is incredibly difficult for her and she walks a fine line between being the gentle English Queen that so many expect her to be and being the intelligent, trilingual woman that she truly is Not surprisingly she keeps her mastery of the Danish tongue to herself.I really enjoyed the inclusion of Elgiva and her Danish husband in this novel Once again it shows a different perspective, one in which we realize that some people in the North of England had Danish loyalty rather than Saxon It was such a turbulent time, not just due to the English shores facing perpetual invasion but also within the political sphere itself even the Saxon King Athelred does not know who to trust Through this novel this period of history has become than just facts on a page to me, it has become a stark reality This is why I love historical fiction When coupled with an author such as Ms Bracewell, historical fiction is truly the best thing you could ever pick up to read It takes us one step closer to understanding a time that is entirely different to our own Yet we are people just as they were and I relish the connection I m able to form with them.Needless to say, I m greatly enjoying Emma s story and I cannot wait until the next novel Thank you very much to Goodreads First Reads for my advanced copy of this novel. A wonderful return to the Emma of Normandy series, covering the turbulent early years of the 11th century This is a harrowing tale, difficult times for all levels of society, including England s queen and princes Beautifully written. After the smashing success of Bracewell s debut novel, Shadow on the Crown, I could hardly expect that she could provide a follow up that was just as good But to my absolute satisfaction, The Price of Blood was even better This is, simply, the best historical fiction I ve ever read This author s portrayal of Emma of Normandy and her Viking ravaged 11th century England is head and shoulders above anything else I ve encountered in the genre, and I cannot sing this book s praises enough.This book is technically the second in a trilogy, and though it could certainly be read as a standalone, I don t know why you would forgo a single page of Bracewell s meticulously researched, female empowering fiction In any case, The Price of Blood details the events in England between 1006 and 1012 AD, from a variety of perspectives, but most primarily that of Emma, Queen of England, and Elgiva, an ambitious noblewoman Throughout the book, England is besieged by Danish ships and soldiers, and there seems to be very little to be done to in fighting them off With this period of extreme upheaval as a backdrop, Bracewell hones in on these two women who desire power in a time and place where women are nothing than breeding machines.Regardless of anything else that goes on, this book is absolutely phenomenal for the way it portrays Emma and Elgiva and their fight for power and agency Both have untapped political cunning and desires for the throne, but are thwarted from exercising their abilities by their husbands and the men in their lives Though Emma is certainly the protagonist and Elgiva could be seen as the antagonist, the fact remains that these two ladies are some of the best examples of badass historical women I ve ever encountered in fiction Elgiva especially I kind of hate to say it, but though Emma is strong and determined and admirable, Elgiva s methods of connivery and using sex to get her way are infinitely interesting The Price of Blood definitely highlights the powerlessness of women in medieval England, and shows both the futility of these characters efforts to gain influence as well as their small triumphs in this area.Beyond that, The Price of Blood is just solid The research is there, the writing is there, the language and the atmosphere and the characters all flawless Not only is Patricia Bracewell portraying Emma of Normandy s life, she s captured a snapshot of the entirety of England and is giving it to her readers Her attention to detail is superb and the amount of background knowledge this book provides is almost overwhelming The author didn t just do her homework she aced it.There is not a single thing to dislike about this book It s strongly written, has nuanced protagonists, and is supported by a truly impressive amount of historical research The Price of Blood is, far and away, one of the best historical novels I ve read in months possibly years Everything I like to see from the genre is evident here, and then some This is absolutely re read worthy, top shelf material I am wholly impressed. Bracewell started her series about Queen Emma with her compelling debut Shadow on the Crown The Price of Blood picks up in 1006 with Emma s husband King Aethelred mired in suspicions of everyone around him and haunted by the ghost of his dead brother Aethelred s primary policy aims to keep all his strongest leaders fighting with each other so that they have no ability to rebel against him He listens to advice only from the man he knows is willing to commit murder for him clearly not the counselor of high moral standards Instead of stability, this crazed plan brings England to desperate straits, unable to defend herself from Viking raids Aethelred s eldest son shows signs of having the leadership qualities his country so desperately needs, but as we watch Aethelred s fear of his son mount we doubt he will be permitted to aid his father in any meaningful way Against this dark backdrop Bracewell builds a plot of intrigues, court politics, battlefields and daily life both among the Vikings and this early English royal family Her psychologically taut portrayal of Emma is utterly engaging Bound by violently conflicting vows and needs, Emma tries to act in the best interests of England, the King and her children although those three arenas of interest often conflict It does not help that she must deny any hope for the love she shares with the king s eldest son The young woman of Shadow on the Crown has sharpened into a sophisticated and savvy ruler who wages power struggles with her self destructive husband in her attempts to bring about wise policies That her hold on power is so fragile and her husband s personality so volatile fills the pages with suspense and powerful tension Ironically, Aethelred s real enemies stay hidden from him although they are vividly brought to life for us with their schemes and ambitions Instead of the people he most needs to defeat, Aethelred attacks those who could help him One of the great strengths of this novel lies in the portions told from Aethelred s point of view While we are inside his mind, we see his thinking in action and how it is that he gradually comes to suspect evil intent of everyone around him He is not a simple mad man It s way complicated and, frankly, all the worrisome for that It does not matter what Emma s motives are, for example, he will find a reason to distrust her actions This holds true for his sons, his bishops and other advisors Here s a passage showing Aethelred s reaction to Emma s request to return to the court and her place at his side To most people this would sound loving or at least positively concerned Indeed she means no harm toward her husband but wishes to help him rule well all in his best interests, if he could only see it This, however, is how he winds it up into contortions of distrust in his mind What maddened him, though, was not the thought of Emma at his court, but the knowledge that she had so damned many allies His first wife had lived in his shadow, where she belonged Emma, though, courted his churchmen and ealdormen, garnered information, and corresponded with men of power His mother had done the same, and her ambitions for him had led to the murder of a king When he considered that, his ill temper turned to misgiving What might Emma s ambitions for her son lead her to do This is skillful placement of the reader inside Aethelred s thought patterns We might not sympathize with this man but we want to know what he will do next We can t resist seeing how far his twisted mind will take us Just when we need to escape from the grimness of Aethelred, Bracewell shifts point of view and we are inside Emma s mind or that of Aethelred s eldest son, or Elgiva, who returns to this book as a formidable challenge to Emma and Aethelred These point of view shifts greatly deepen the book and place the reader in a variety of emotional states This is a book of rising psychological drama, an in depth portrayal of family dynamics at their most disastrous as they spill out onto a stage that encompasses a whole country There is a Shakespearean feel to these conflicts and their subtle working out inside the minds of these living, breathing characters This is not a happy book, but it s one you won t want to miss It s a profoundly insightful book that keeps drawing the reader along its intriguingly dark paths. The Price of Blood, by Patricia Bracewell, is the second book in The Emma of Normandy Trilogy The first book, Shadow on the Crown, followed fifteen year old Emma as she left her homeland of Normandy and everything she knew to marry Aethelred, the haunted King of war torn and pillaged England Viking invasions were blooding the land and causing much internal strife The second book picks up in 1006 where Shadow on the Crown leaves off and then ends in 1012 While these books are fiction they are based on real people, actual battles, and true events that have been recorded in history Bracewell used many works by Anglo Saxon scholars to conduct her research What resulted is an extraordinary piece of historical fiction that uses rich language, detailed plot lines, and extensive character development Bracewell is a wonderfully talented writer which is seen in Shadow on the Crown and The Price of Blood.Queen Emma is an unforgettable heroine that easily captures reader s hearts, as well as the hearts and support of the English Court and commoners This does not endear her to the King or her stepchildren They view her and her young son Edward, who was named the rightful heir to the thrown, as threats She is strong, intelligent, and dialed into the political landscape Emma also keeps tabs on what is going on inside her family, the Court, and with other nobles.In Shadow on the Crown, Emma falls in love with her eldest stepson, Athelstan He returns her feelings but they know nothing can ever come of their dangerous love except heartache When The Price of Blood begins the King already distrusts and dislikes Emma and he thinks Athelstan is out to steal his crown If Emma or Athelstan gave the King any reason to think that they had feelings for each other it would lead to their destruction This leads to the two battling their desire for each other throughout The Price of Blood.The Price of Blood does a wonderful job of illustrating just how hard it was to be female during this time Women practically had no say in their lives and belonged fully to whichever man they were betrothed to It saddened me to see Emma have no control of her son Edward s life The King wanted them separated so that Emma would not influence Edward as he grew older, thus he had him sent away Bracewell also demonstrated how disease heavily plagued the people of that age Sickness spread like wildfire and there was nothing they could do but pray.Patricia Bracewell has created an exceptional historical trilogy in Emma of Normandy The Price of Blood is well written, well researched, and I thoroughly enjoyed it I am eagerly awaiting the final novel in her trilogy to see what becomes of England, Emma, Athelstan, Aethelred, and her children If you are looking for a pivoting series to read then you definitely need to get The Emma of Normandy trilogy I was provided a complimentary copy of this novel by the Publisher for a honest review
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- 448 pages
- The Price of Blood
- Patricia Bracewell
- 15 January 2019 Patricia Bracewell