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Here Be Dragons [Paperback]

Sharon Kay Penman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 27 2008

Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England’s ruthless, power-hungry King John. Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce by marrying the English king’s beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, who slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband. But as John’s attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales---and Llewelyn---Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie.

The turbulent clashes of two disparate worlds and the destinies of the individuals caught between them spring to life in this magnificent novel of power and passion, loyalty and lies. The book that began the trilogy that includes Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, Here Be Dragons brings thirteenth-century England, France, and Wales to tangled, tempestuous life.

Frequently Bought Together

Here Be Dragons + Falls the Shadow: A Novel + The Reckoning
Price For All Three: CDN$ 49.07

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  • Falls the Shadow: A Novel CDN$ 15.87

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  • The Reckoning CDN$ 16.60

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“A masterful picture of Wales in the thirteenth century . . . vividly pictured as grandly beautiful, its people volatile, stubborn, and mystic.” ---The San Diego Union

“There is everything in Here Be Dragons but dragons: princesses held captive in stone towers, bloody wars, princes scheming to dethrone their own brothers, castles under siege, maidens in distress, power struggles for half of civilization, rampant infidelity, lusting, mead guzzling, wine drinking, love affairs that topple kingdoms---how did England survive the thirteenth century? . . . History and fiction bound up together in historical novels have always had their own uneasy alliance. . . . Penman deftly makes the mesh work.” ---The Washington Post Book World

“Remarkable. . . . Her writing is faultless, deftly interweaving the threads of the various story lines into a glowing, living tapestry. . . . This is storytelling at its finest.” ---United Press International

“With a fidelity to historical detail, a deep understanding of the period, a lucid, felicitous prose style, a sensitivity to nuances of character, and a sure sense of drama, the new novel by the author of The Sunne in Splendour is an engrossing tale.” ---Publishers Weekly

From the Publisher

        As a publisher I have been lucky to be able to visit bookstores all over the country, independent and chain alike. What interests me first about these stores is what titles are being displayed in the 'Staff Recommends' section of the store. It is here that you can find treasured, beloved books quite dear to someone who works in the stores, someone waiting quite eagerly for the chance to hand sell their recommended titles.

        It is in these Staff Recommend sections that I kept on seeing our Penman's titles, HERE BE DRAGONS, FALLS THE SHADOW, THE RECKONING and also SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR and WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT.
It's funny, you can sell something for years before you notice that the author has been quietly making a powerful impact on people everywhere.

        I started with HERE BE DRAGONS and I have never looked back. Her trilogy of the decline of the Welsh kings ( DRAGON, FALLS THE SHADOW and THE RECKONING)is a holiday gift I give year after year, and I'm happy to say they have always been embraced and loved. From my 15 year old niece to my 70 year old mother and many ages in between, all readers are enchanted and transported to a land and an age gone forever. But Penman makes them live forever in our minds and hearts with fantastic, unforgettable characters and wonderful history. HERE BE DRAGONS is such a great title--medieval mapmakes would write those words across any part of the map that was unknown.. a wonderful metaphor for how little the Welsh and English knew of each other.

        SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR--Warning: This is not Shakespeare's Richard III. In this novel, Richard is a victim of circumstance and man vilified by the Tudors, but here presented as a decent and normal man, a man of conscience.
AND he is not a murderer. Yes, those princes did die, but not by Richard's hand.


Another wonderful title, for it refers to the 15 years of England's darkest time-the civil war between the cousins Queen Maud and King Steven. England was deserted, for Christ and his saints were sleeping. I had never even heard of these royals. Queen Maud was the legitimate heir to the throne, but a woman, and there fore not fit to rule. She is also the mother of Henry, who later married Eleanor of Aquitaine . Pretty heady stuff, more incredible men and women, another book to get totally lost in.

        Although it has been years since all these books were first published, I can name 5 stores I have been in in the past 3 months that have one of these titles in the Staff Recommends section.

-Alice Kesterson, Ballantine Regional Sales Manger --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
HE was ten years old and an alien in an unfriendly land, made an unwilling exile by his mother's marriage to a Marcher border lord. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Here Be Dragons Feb. 8 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a gift for a friend who enjoys historical novels as I do. I have read all of Penman's books and wanted to introduce him to them by starting with the first one. They are so well researched and written, hard to put down and "keepers" on my bookcase shelves.

Lucy A.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book April 30 2004
This is the first of a trio of books about Medieval England and Wales. Most of the characters in this book of historical fiction really existed. King John, who has been demonized by the Robin Hood tales, was a strong king of England who loved his children dearly and loathed his enemies. Llewellyn, the first Prince of Wales dreams of a united country. King John dreams of subduing Wales and Llewellyn. When King John marries his (...)daughter, Joanna, to Llewellyn, Joanna is at first reluctant and frightened. However, she comes to love her husband and finds that she must chose between spouse and father.
Ms. Penman writes with incredible power and emotion. Her history is well researched, and her characters, settings and dialogue are all incredibly believable. You may find that when you put the book down you are wondering, just a bit, exactly where and when you are. I highly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. Oct. 8 2009
I had read The Sunne in Splendour when I was in high school, and had fallen in love with Sharon Kay Penman's writing style. Unfortunately, it took me another 7 years to pick up another novel by her, and it was this novel. Here Be Dragons was absolutely incredible. The images she weaves with her tale of Llewelyn are so amazingly detailed that you can almost imagine being there with him, with Joanna, with King John... I couldn't put this book down, and it's not often I get so sucked into a novel.

Do yourself a favour and read this book, and go ahead and pick up The Sunne in Splendour while you're at it. You won't be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book. Ever. May 15 2004
I read this book 14 years ago, and it still stands out in my mind as the best book I've ever read. After all these years I still remember the people - Joahnna, Llewellyn, John - almost as if they're real to me. If you're looking for an emotional investment in a story, this one will do it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Well-Written May 4 2004
By A Customer
The book may be long, but not a word is wasted. The love story of Llewellyn and Joanna is timeless and relevant to modern times. I'm particularly fond of the strong female characters!
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5.0 out of 5 stars More than words April 19 2004
By A Customer
This is a beautiful book! There are not many books that read as well as Sharon Kay Penman's. They are effortless reading. She has made all of the people in her books very real and personal to me. I am planning my first trip to Wales, due to this book. I'm going to start the second in the trilogy as soon as I sign off, and I have no doubt I will enjoy it as much as I have this one.
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Sharon Kay Penman is a remarkably gifted writer. Her impeccable historical research, attention to detail and superb storytelling ability make her novels consistently excellent. "Here Be Dragons" is one of her best efforts. It is the second book in her Plantagenet series, which include "The Sunne In Splendour," "Falls The Shadow," and "The Reckoning." Each of these wonderful historical novels stands on its own, however, and while it is an extraordinary experience to read each book in order, one does not have to do so to appreciate the history, the characters or the period.
Ruthless, power hungry King John Platagenet ruled 13th century England with an iron fist. He was determined to bring Wales, a country divided, under his thumb and into his power. Charismatic Llewelyn Farr, Prince of Northern Wales fought to unite his country's nobility and provide a strong front against the English. He finally succeeded in securing a tentative truce with England by marrying King John's beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna. Initially wary of her new husband, her father's enemy, Joanna grew to love Llewelyn passionately over the years, but she was constantly torn between the politics of Wales and England, and her love for her husband and her father.
This is a complex saga of historic characters, politics, intrigues, betrayals, bloody battles and wars, romance, lust, power struggles, princesses held captive, revenge and forgiveness. Yet once begun, this extraordinary epic is almost impossible to put down. Ms. Penman portrays Wales, its people, culture and landscape vividly with glorious detail. It is fascinating to become involved with the characters and realize how linked they are by common ancestry.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who needs sleep? Feb. 9 2004
By A Customer
This was the first "historical" novel that I have ever read. Due to the size of the book (over 700 pages), I figured it would take me weeks to read it. I didn't count on how involved I would get with the story. It has been quite a while since a book grabbed me enough to read until dawn. But this one did. So did the two other books in the series, "Falls the Shadow" and "The Reckoning". All three are highly recommended.
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