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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!