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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)
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.
WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT
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 alternate Paperback edition.
One of my very favourite authors. This book is one of the best and most historically accurate historical fiction stories.( I have done some research of my own). Read morePublished 12 months ago by Marion ottawa
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... Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2012 by L. Aldridge
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. Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2009 by Anastassia R. Waddell
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 -... Read morePublished on May 15 2004 by M. OConnell
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. Read morePublished on May 4 2004
This is a beautiful book! There are not many books that read as well as Sharon Kay Penman's. They are effortless reading. Read morePublished on April 18 2004
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 9 2004
Having been recommended this book, I finally broke down and bought it. If my high school history classes were half as entertaining, I might have become a historian! Read morePublished on Aug. 11 2003 by J. Fenk
Sharon K. Penman is a true breath of fresh air in the genre of Historical Fiction writers, in that, she actually cares about getting the history right and the language right;... Read morePublished on July 16 2003