The Widow Queen: Book summary and reviews of The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska

The Widow Queen

The Bold, Book 1

by Elzbieta Cherezinska

The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska X
The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Elżbieta Cherezińska's The Widow Queen is the epic story of a Polish queen whose life and name were all but forgotten until now. It's a sweeping saga perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, Bernard Cornwell, and the Vikings TV series.

The bold one, they call her―too bold for most.

To her father, the great duke of Poland, Świętosława and her two sisters represent three chances for an alliance. Three marriages on which to build his empire.

But Świętosława refuses to be simply a pawn in her father's schemes; she seeks a throne of her own, with no husband by her side.

The gods may grant her wish, but crowns sit heavy, and power is a sword that cuts both ways.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!


Media Reviews

"Elżbieta Cherezińska writes with great depth and imagination, bringing to life seductive and detailed worlds." - Olga Tokarczuk, Nobel Prize Laureate and Man Booker Prize winning author of Flights

"The Widow Queen is the story of a woman standing strong in a world run by men, and of the sacrifices we must make for power and love. Elżbieta Cherezińska brings epic history to life with her own unique and recognizable voice. Her stories have emotion, drama, and make even the most well-known historical events feel exciting and fresh." - Tomek Baginski, Executive Producer, The Witcher, Netflix

"A fascinating and forgotten corner of history ... Cherezińska brings to life a world of violence and beauty, superstition and intrigue."- Linnea Hartsuyker, author of The Half-Drowned King

"Fascinating, authentic, and beautifully told, The Widow Queen is the story of a forgotten Polish princess in an era of warriors, the headstrong, clever Świętosława―twice a queen, mother of kings. An impressive and compelling story brough vividly to life!" - Susan Fraser King, author of Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter

"The Widow Queen is a genuine gift for historical fiction enthusiasts: a deeply-detailed story of power, politics, and love―and the impossibility of keeping all three. In Świętosława, Elżbieta Cherezińska reveals to us a complex woman who was ignored by historians, rightfully elevating her to an equal standing with her more-famous allies and enemies. This carefully-crafted novel lives up to its protagonist's title: the Bold One." - Nathan Makaryk, author of Nottingham

"Look no further for your next great adventure. The Widow Queen unspools the true history of two courageous siblings, Boleslaw―the first and future King of Poland, and his daring sister Świętosława, fated to a royal destiny in a great Norse kingdom. Ranging across Baltic shores to the northern reaches of Scandinavia, and far West to King Ethelred's England, Cherezińska propels us through a tale of great personal and social transformation, from pagan to Christian, and private to political. This hidden history of a forgotten yet vitally important heroine brings Swietoslawa into the limelight she so richly deserves." - Octavia Randolph, author of The Circle of Ceridwen Saga

This information about The Widow Queen shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Margaret A. (Cornelius, NC)

The Widow Queen
The story is not lost in translation!
The Widow Queen is a historical fiction masterpiece set in the time period from 984 A.D. - 997 A.D. The story focuses on the Piast dynasty of Poland and the Vikings in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Norway

Duke Mieszko of Poland is a ruthless leader, who seeks to expand Poland's borders through cunning, strength and his children. He grooms his children in the roles they are to play and arranges marriage alliances between his children with whomever he chooses he feels will aid them to become the most powerful rulers of all time.

At the center of this epic novel, is Swietoslawa, the Bold One, Mieszko's favorite daughter with intelligence, and her very presence that commands respect, because she indeed has proven herself to be the Bold One.

This historical fiction has something for everyone; battles, intrigue, alliances, betrayals and even some love stories. It will keep you turning the page and leave you wanting more.

Jan, Colorado

An Adventure of a Different Time
The Widow Queen is not just a story, it's a saga. Elzbieta Cherezinska writes so powerfully that her words pull one through the story. The lands and the times are as foreign as the names of the characters that you can't forget. This book is packed with timeless stories of love, deceit and power. This is not a "beach read." One must take the time to explore the many plots and subplots, know the many characters, and discover the many foreign places. The author leaves the reader ready for her promised next book "The Last Crown."

Bonne O. (Hartwell, GA)

Royals of the 10th Century
Chroniclers of 10th Century Scandinavia, known as the "dark ages", have scant documentation for historians to fully detail and recount various kingdoms and royal families. But the author, Cherezinska, has collected what factual evidence is available and woven a rich tapestry of budding kingdoms from Poland to Scandinavia, royal characters, monarch manipulations, obsession for power, territorial battles, betrayal, political intrigue and love with personal sacrifice. One is tempted to make certain comparisons to the 21st Century.

A 13 year period with the main noble individuals details the daily workings and religious/pagan practices of a kingdom as well as highlighting the continuous internal maneuvering required to expand and/or protect a monarchy. The role of royal daughters is of particular interest as we learn how men politically determine their futures. One woman's resistance is at the center of this story.

Kings, Jarls, Chieftains all seek to acquire territory, alliances, dominance and power. As the conflicts continue, the emergence of a new influence, Christianity, begins to casts an unknown into any victory where pagan societies exist.

This story contains numerous foreign names, place and things which could be a deterrent for some readers but the swift attachment to the characters, and rapid pace of plot keep the reader involved. At the end of the book there is much as stake and a new exciting scheme is implied but alas, the reader will have to wait for the sequel for all to be revealed.

Christine B. (Lilydale, MN)

The Polish Ken Follett
My goodness what a fantastic saga! Although I am of 100 percent Polish ancestry, I learned so much history from this sprawling novel. The interplay of the Polish, Swedish, English, Norwegian, and Danish kingdoms was fascinating. I enjoyed the allure of the main protagonist Swietoslawa who ruled her subjects, including her husbands, with unmistakable aplomb. I am looking forward to reading the next installment of what will be an unforgettable passage into Polish history.

Marion C. (Peabody, MA)

The Widow Queen is a captivating read of the years 960 to 995 where the Vikings conquer and steal the wealth of neighboring Scandinavian countries and England. During this time, various Kings introduce Christianity to their subjects, although reluctant kings allow their patrons to continue their Viking practices. The author left us with a cliffhanger. The widowed queen, Swietostawa, wonders if she can go after her heart's throb, another King, or is it too late. Next year the series continues with The Last Crown, and I cannot wait to read it.

Sherilyn R. (St George, UT)

Sigrid Storrada a forgotten Queen
The Widow Queen authored by Elzbieta Cherezinska is the fascinating and forgotten story of a tenth century queen who ruled two kingdoms, and is remembered in the Norse sagas but was totally unknown to me.

I love historical sagas and this had all the requirements for great historical fiction: great characters, star-crossed lovers, lots of action, and a story which opened the window on a time and place with which I was unfamiliar.

I did need to keep google at hand for about the first fifty pages to familiarize myself with the real-life characters, the geography and the events in medieval history.

I would most definitely recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction and especially those who love medieval history. I couldn't put this book down and am anxiously awaiting the sequel to the Widow Queen called The Last Crown.

...4 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

More Information

Elżbieta Cherezińska is a bestselling and award-winning author from Pila, Poland. She has written 14 novels, and The Widow Queen is her first to be translated into English. She and her husband currently reside in Kolobrzeg, Poland.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more

Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    by Ellen Cooney
    In One Night Two Souls Went Walking, we follow a young interfaith chaplain as she carries out her ...
  • Book Jacket: Truthtelling
    by Lynne Schwartz
    The word "unsayable" can mean something is too vast to be put into words. Alternatively, it can ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book Collectors
    The Book Collectors
    by Delphine Minoui
    About halfway through The Book Collectors, I was disappointed. I came into the book with a ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls
    by Ursula Hegi

    Set on a German island in 1878, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline
The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.



Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.