Dragon's Lair Hardcover – Oct 14 2003
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
That said, her mysteries are a lot of fun. I'm not a huge mystery buff, but hers seem to be quite well-plotted and the action is tense. Keep the interest throughout. This one, Dragon's Lair, is perhaps my favorite of hers and I heartily recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the medieval period. No one has brought the thirteenth century to life for me like Sharon Kay Penman. She really is a master, with all those wonderful details (so stunningly accurate!) and those characters that come alive and become cherished friends!
The characters in Dragon's Lair are wonderful, all her usual verve, if you will. Justin De Quincy is one of her most endearing creations. I have noted that sometimes her completely fictional characters seem to be somewhat weaker than those based on actual personages, but Justin is an exception. He goes against her sweeter heroes, like Hugh from The Reckoning or Ranulf Fitzroy, and evidences a great deal of most intriguing depth and temper, too. We get some more on his childhood in this book, which is fun and Justin's interactions with his esteemed father are especially good. I look forward to seeing more in her next one! Another great character is John Platagenet and I'm sure that anyone who has read Here Be Dragons will agree with me. He is one of my all time favorite baddest of the bad but still so cool book characters!
Other fans of her earlier books will likely be ecstatic to see Llewelyn, Rhys (but where was Catrin?) and Ednevyd. Llewelyn is really a great character and he must have been so fun to write!Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Sharon Kay Penman has again delivered another solid product in this book which again illustrates why she is amongst the best in historical fiction. Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2012 by Trevor B. Owen
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. Read morePublished on May 24 2004 by Valerie Fletcher Adolph
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2004
...and that's the fact that we've had to wait so long for this third installment in the series. It's wonderful...and I hope that Ms. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2004
While this book may be historically accurate, to me anyway, it amounted to a huge disappointment because I was looking forward to a very good read. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2003 by Peragulator
Ms. Penman's charaterization is as wonderful as always in this third book of Justin deQuincy. Even though she writes of a long-dead era and of historical figures, her characters... Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2003 by Shirley Schwartz
A year ago, I read Sharon Kay Penman's Here Be Dragons, and thought it was outstanding, and said as much in my review. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2003 by Dan Dean