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Shield of Three Lions: A Novel [Paperback]

Pamela Kaufman
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 23 2002
The return of a classic, by bestselling author Pamela Kaufman.

“Richly rewarding, superbly written. . . . The richness of the characters, the historical details, and the story as a whole make this novel a memorable reading experience.”—Chicago Sun-Times

Eleven-year-old Alix is the daughter of the baron of Wanthwaite, whose lands along the Scottish border are among the best in England. But when her family is killed and her lands seized, Alix is forced to flee from the only home she’s ever known. Her one hope of restoring her inheritance is to plead her case to King Richard the Lion Heart, who is far away in France, preparing to go on his Crusade. Alix resolves to follow him. She cuts her hair, dresses as a boy, and takes the road south to London.

Disguised as a beautiful young boy, Alix is more than befriended by the handsome and mysterious King Richard, even becoming his favorite page. Their relationship sets tongues wagging and places Alix in considerable danger as the battle for Jerusalem unfolds.

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“A lively romance . . . a rich picture of a romantic time . . . [Kaufman’s] detailed descriptions of a bawdy land and its people are matched well by her touching and humorous portrait of an adolescent coming to terms with her own womanhood.”—USA Today

“A romantic, sensual, ribald, rowdy—and often hilarious—tale.” —Los Angeles Herald

From the Back Cover

“A lively romance . . . a rich picture of a romantic time . . . [Kaufman’s] detailed descriptions of a bawdy land and its people are matched well by her touching and humorous portrait of an adolescent coming to terms with her own womanhood.”—USA Today

“A romantic, sensual, ribald, rowdy—and often hilarious—tale.” —Los Angeles Herald

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Crusade dressed as a boy Feb. 8 2003
Well, I think this story is well rounded. It gives us different peeks at all sorts of medieval goings on: Crusades, Universities, Intrigue, Law, Castles, that dumb romance stuff all the feminists are into with Medieval women and Eleanor, etc.
We don't get to deep into much, but I enjoyed it. The story also is woven around a girl whose family is brutally murdered and has to flee, disguised as a boy.
She meets up with an "evil" Scotsman on her own quest and they have all sorts adventures together trying to get her land back.
The story instantly grabs you in the beginning.
Yes, the author does try to use period language. I didn't know half of what she said; nor could I remember my latin to translate. But it didn't really bother me to much.
Also, she threw in a Robin Hood and Maid Marian scene. I thought that that was a bit cheesy, but it was well written for her intent.
The author has great insight into Richards person. I loved it.
There are a few surprises. I was disappointed with the ending---it seemed it stopped abruptly---but that could be because I didn't want it to end! I cannot wait to read the next one!
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I'll admit that historical romance is not usually my genre - I tend to stick to fantasy and science fiction - but this book took me by surprise. Most of what others have said on this page is true. The characters are well developed and believable, the romance is fairly touching, and the book seems to be well-researched, although I'm not an expert on the Middle Ages. However, Kaufman's uneven writing is a huge distraction. She'll write in straightforward, modern English for a few pages, then suddenly plunge into a mess of archaic phrasing and terminology. I don't know why Kaufman thinks it's necessary to use words like "caparisoned" and "vulperets", perhaps she thought that doing so would give the novel an air of authenticity. Unluckily, I don't have time to study Middle English, and the result is that there are many scenes in "Shield of Three Lions" where I simply couldn't understand what was being described. So in summary, it's not a bad read, but consider yourself warned about the language.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable July 28 2002
I first read "Shield of Three Lions" years ago and it remains one of the most memorable books I've read in a long career as a voracious reader. The story follows the exploits of a Alix, a girl disguised as a boy, as she follows Richard the Lion Heart on his crusades. Exciting, hilarious, filled with adventure, and often ribald, "Shield" is one book I can heartily--and highly--recommend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Historical Fiction July 23 2002
By A Customer
This book is both absorbing and educational. It rings true, historically and emotionally. It's an equally fabulous read for someone who wants to learn more about medieval history or just some high-quality brain candy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A pixie befuddles King Richard the Lionhearted April 6 2012
By S Svendsen TOP 500 REVIEWER
The setting covers northern England (the Scottish border), France, Italy, Sicily, Cyprus and the Holy Land (Dominions of Saladin) from 1189 to 1192. Although "Shield of Three Lions" follows a fictional story line it is true to the main events of the Third Crusade by King Richard I (the Lionhearted) of England and King Philip II of France. After her home, Worthwaite Castle has been sacked and her parents killed, the young pre-teen heroine, Alix, escapes from Roland, her cruel adversary, south to London. She hitches a ride with a dour but brave and protective Scot, Enoch, who has in mind to put a claim to half the Wanthwaite estate in exchange for protecting Alix, who now has taken on the identity of a young boy, calling herself Alex. She succeeds in maintaining her male persona for most of the story during which she develops a mostly platonic protective relationship with the bisexual Richard I, serving as one of his pages. Her hope is that the king will issue an edict restoring to her the title to Wanthwaite. Enoch, having enacted a blood-brother ceremony with "Alex," continues his own protective relationship with him (her). As Alix matures it becomes more and more difficult for her to conceal her feminity, especially to Richard and to Enoch. Sexual stirrings serve to induce emotional turmoil. The reader will continue to be engaged with Alix's dilemma until the surprising and emotionally cathartic conclusion.

It is easy to believe that Pamela Kaufman is a learned linguist. The book is peppered with Latin, French, Gaelic and the dialects of the period. Some readers can be put off by the author's insistence on linguistic showmanship. Admittedly, it can be a bit of a chore to decipher the exact meaning of some words and phrases but most readers will overcome the challenge.
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