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Dragon's Lair [Hardcover]

Sharon Kay Penman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 14 2003 Penman, Sharon Kay
The long-awaited third novel in Sharon Kay Penman's much-loved medieval mystery series.

July 1193: Richard Lionheart, eldest and most favored son of Dowager Queen Eleanor of Aquitane, languishes in an Austrian dungeon, held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor. Lusting after the crown in England, his brother John plots with his country's bitterest foe, King Philippe of France, to see to it Richard never leaves Austria alive. But the Queen has already begun to meet the ransom demands, and it is only a matter of time before the Austrians turn over their royal prisoner. And then one of the ransom payments vanishes in the fastnesses of Wales, itself wracked by rebellion and intrigue. Into this maelstrom, Eleanor sends her trusted man, Justin de Quincy-and murder soon follows.

First introduced in The Queen's Man-an Edgar nominee for best first mystery-Justin de Quincy returns in what may well be Penman's strongest mystery to date.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In Penman's third polished medieval mystery (after 1998's Cruel as the Grave), her dedicated and resourceful hero, Justin de Quincy, tries to recover, quite literally, a king's ransom in coffers of precious metals and bales of wool, which are as valuable as gold, that have been stolen in northern Wales. It's 1193, and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine fervently needs to ransom her eldest son, Richard Lionheart, from the Holy Roman Emperor before King Philippe of France can interfere and her younger son, John, can seize the crown. Justin proceeds into the thickets and wild forests of Wales, where he's deeply mistrusted both as an Englishman and an outsider. He must penetrate abundant Welsh intrigues and deceptions in order to discover the treasure as well as solve murders and comfort bereaved lovers. Despite a large cast of characters from every social class, Penman keeps them all clearly distinguishable. Her familiarity with Cheshire and Wales is evident in her descriptions of the terrain and verdure, while her use of modern language, with only an occasional "for certes" to remind readers of the period, makes the story a pleasure to read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School--In this sequel to The Queen's Man (Ballantine, 1998), Dowager Queen Eleanor is desperately trying to rescue her son Richard Lionheart, imprisoned by the Holy Roman Emperor. Meanwhile, her youngest son, John, plots to ensure that his brother never leaves prison alive. Justin De Quincy, the illegitimate son of the Bishop of Chester, is sent to Wales by the queen to recover one of the ransom payments, which has mysteriously disappeared. It was primarily in the form of fine Cistercian wool sent in wagons under guard to Chester. De Quincy investigates the theft and delves into the labyrinthine politics of Wales. Davydd, a prince of North Wales, claims the payment was stolen and the guards slain. Using friends and contacts and his own wits, De Quincy comes close to tracking it down, and then becomes a target himself. Amid scheming, murder, and mayhem, he ultimately prevails. Medieval Britain comes alive in this fast-paced tale. Students of history and those just looking for a good mystery will be equally rewarded.--Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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First Sentence
WALKING IN THE GARDENS OF THE ROYAL PALACE ON a sultry, overcast summer afternoon, Claudine de Loudun recognized for the first time that she feared the queen. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best in Historical Fiction Writers Nov. 21 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sharon Kay Penman has again delivered another solid product in this book which again illustrates why she is amongst the best in historical fiction. The characters not only come alive but ring true to their time. Ms. Penman's books are worth acquiring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting medieval action Dec 23 2003
Richard the Lion Hearted is being held by the Holy Roman Emperor and all England is straining to raise his ransom--except Prince John, of course, who fears for his life if his brother returns. When one caravan of ransom money is ambushed, Queen Eleanor sends her young agent Justin de Quincy to find the missing treasure. What de Quincy finds is plots within plots as Welsh prinices seek to take advantage of the situation.
De Quincy travels between Wales and England looking for clues to the missing treasure. Aided by a friendly knight, a childhood friend, and several beautiful women, De Quincy picks up hints of a plot, but finding proof is more difficult. Discovering the treasure is most difficult of all--if it hasn't been destroyed in the first place.
Author Sharon Kay Penman delivers a romp of a story. Queen Eleanor and Prince John are carefully rendered as the complex and tortured people they were. This isn't a classic mystery with subtle clues, cartloads of red herrings, and deep-thinking detectives. But if you're looking for a bit of action, some really nice historical detail, and a swashbuckling young hero, DRAGON'S LAIR is a definite winner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story May 24 2004
This writer manages to absorb the reader in the historical period and brings to light kings, queens and those who serve them as well as the social history. In addition she tells a fast paced and complex tale, full of action and characters that ring true across eight hundred years. She hasn't been bogged down by the conventional wisdom about the time and its people (Richard - good, John - bad) instead we see them as the complex and often confounded people that they were. She shows us the struggle across the Welsh marches, the beauty of Wales and the strength of its people.
She has given us a protagonist with a wonderful mixture of strengths and failings. Justin de Quincey is maturing nicely in this series. I'm looking forward to reading more about his exploits.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the last two, but still quite fun April 16 2004
In this book, Justin must travel to Wales to recover a portion of King Richard's ransom. This means that neither Nell nor Luke, my favorite characters in the series, appear at all. Instead, we have an almost entirely new cast of characters, including Molly, Justin's childhood friend and longtime crush, who might be quite interesting in subsequent books, but only if she's fleshed out a bit more. We also get to see a bit more of Bishop de Quincy.
I understood from reading The Queen's Man that this was going to be a trilogy, but there are enough loose ends at the end that it is apparent that Penman anticipates at least one more Justin novel. My only quarrel with that is that she seems to have made this into too much of a transition novel. Too many new elements and characters are thrown in for Penman to do them all justice, which leaves many of them shallow and two-dimensional.
The actual mystery, as usual, is convoluted and unlikely enough to give Agatha Christie pause. Either you like that sort of mystery plot or you don't, but if you do, Penman created a nicely tangled knot with this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful de Quincy mystery March 3 2004
Queen Eleanor (formerly of Aquitaine) is in a bit of a quandary. . . Her son, King Richard (of Lionheart fame) is being held for ransom in a German dungeon. She's trying desperately to raise the ransom money while her other son, Prince John (you know, the "phony king of England") is trying equally as hard to keep her from succeeding. He wants to be King, and is quite willing to pay the Germans more to keep good old Coeur d' Lion languishing.
When the ransom from Wales gets highjacked, the Queen calls for her trusted man, and the hero of our story, Justin de Quincy. She knows, thanks to two other novels, that Justin will follow her desire to keep John's name out of any scandal while finding out just what IS going on.
With Dragon's Lair, Sharon Kay Penman spins another great medieval tale full of the flavor and danger those times possessed. Justin de Quincy has become one of my favorite problem solvers and I'm looking forward to the next problem that comes his way--though there's no date set for it as yet--with hopes that more of his past will come to light (as much for his benefit as mine) and with great curiosity as to what will happen to the two women in his life, Claudine and Molly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's simple Feb. 9 2004
By A Customer
Buy it, read it, and you'll love it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile sequel Feb. 8 2004
I am very impressed by all of Ms. Penmans' books that I have read. The sheer amount of historical research that goes into them is mind boggling. Dragon's Lair is the third installment in her mystery series. I think my favorite is still The Queen's Man; however, Dragon's Lair is a worthy contender.
Justin de Quincy is yet again sent off on a mission on behalf of the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine who is the ruling monarch of the English, Aquitaine and Normandy empires while her son Richard the Lionheart is in an Austrian dungeon due to being captured on his way home from the Crusades.
Part of the ransom has gone missing in the deep forests of Wales. Eleanor sends Justin to investigate and return the ransome if at all possible.
In typical Penman mystery fashion there are a number of twists and turns so it's not easy to guess what is on the next page.
I highly recommend it for people who like mysteries or books based upon the early ages of the English empire.
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