From Publishers Weekly
The prolific Holland (Jerusalem; Valley of the Kings, etc.), a commanding voice in the historical fiction genre, succeeds once again in illuminating a darkly glorious piece of the past, in this epic tale of warrior princesses and avenging angels set in ninth-century medieval Europe. Fluidly written and energetically paced, the story opens on Queen Ingunn's deathbed. The monarch's final wish is for her only child, Ragny, as the last remaining descendant of the line of Roderick, to claim her rightful position and become the new queen of Spain. King Markold, the queen's estranged husband and Ragny's disreputable father, plans to marry his daughter and claim the throne. Strong-willed Ragny escapes Markold and is pursued by Markold's sergeant, Seffrid. She convinces Seffrid to become her ally, cuts off her hair and escapes to Francia. Disguised as a man, Ragny, now known as Roderick, possesses the strength of a true warrior. And she has a secretDshe is protected by her guardian angel. With flashing sword, Ragny/Roderick saves a group of monks and the handsome Frankish knight, Leovild, from bandits; in return they take the fearless maiden and Seffrid to meet the king of Francia, Charles the Bald. A bloody medieval duel caps this tale of epic battles and heavenly light. Little distinguishes it from similar sagas, but Holland consistently satisfies her readers, and the book should prove a surefire, if fleeting, antidote to winter doldrums.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Holland refashions the venerable French legend of Roderick the Beardless into a fantastical medieval adventure. Threatened by her brutal father after the death of her beloved mother, Princess Ragny is forced to flee her small Spanish kingdom in disguise. As Ragny and her devoted manservant journey northward into a bitterly divided France, she transforms herself into Roderick, a bold and fearless knight capable of performing miracles on the battlefield. After Roderick comes to the attention and the assistance of the beleaguered Charles the Bald, the king of France insists that the celebrated young warrior marry his daughter. Despite her almost mystical powers, Ragny/Roderick experiences a gamut of all too human emotions as she herself falls deeply in love with Leovild, one of the king's most loyal and trusted commanders. When her true identity is exposed and she is sentenced to burn at the stake, only a severely wounded Leovild can save her from certain death. A potent blend of action, suspense, romance, and history. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved