by Patricia Bracewell 7 Feb 2013
In 1002, fifteen-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.
Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.
Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers.
"Bracewell delivers a highly entertaining addition to the historical fiction genre." - Publisher's Weekly
"A serviceable bit of historical fiction, but for all its twists and ligatures, it's no Once and Future King." - Kirkus
Rated of 5
SHADOW ON THE CROWN by Patricia Bracewell
SHADOW ON THE CROWN is an intricately plotted historical novel based on the early life of Emma of England, a little remembered queen of the medieval period. Emma, youngest daughter of Richard of Normandy and ancestor to William the Conqueror, is sent to England to marry the newly widowed and much older King AEthelred. The marriage is supposed to prevent the Danish Vikings who are indebted to Richard from sacking English towns.
Instead Emma discovers she is surrounded by intrigue, plots against the King, a Lord's daughter who insinuates herself into the king's bed, stepsons who resent her (and one who loves her), a husband who both ignores and abuses her, and in peril from the Vikings.
Well researched and well written, the novel is part mystery, part history and mostly intensely absorbing. You will need the glossary at the beginning of the book for all the medieval words and the cast of characters to keep all the unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon names straight. I longed for a more complete map with both medieval and modern names - who knew Jorvik was really the city of York. You will discover in the afterward that this is the first book of a trilogy. Then you will wait impatiently for the next book to be published!
Patricia Bracewell grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon a writing career. This is her first novel. She lives in Oakland, California.