Beloved author Norah Lofts brings to life the romance and adventure of the crusading king Richard the Lionhearted through the eyes of his most humble and trusted companion -- his lute player. One of the most renowned figures in medieval history, Richard the Lionhearted, inspired by a vision of the Holy Land, led his knights onto the battlefields of the Third Crusade. During the years of fighting and intrigue, Richards life was intertwined with the lives of two strong, vibrant, and drastically different women who loved him -- Berengaria, princess of Navarre, and his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. While his marriage to Berengaria was ill-fated, Eleanor loved her son with a frantic, possessive pride. But it is Blondel, the kings lute player, who here steps forward from the shadows to tell this tale of romance, war, and betrayal. In her trademark style, Norah Lofts paints a complex and human portrait of a legendary king.
Starred Review. Lofts (The Concubine) returns to characteristic concerns with this rich historical fiction, focusing on the lute player and companion to Richard the Lionhearted, Blondel. King Richard is loved desperately by his wife, Berengaria; she, in turn, is loved by Blondel; Blondel, meanwhile, has caught the eye of Berengaria's hunchbacked sister, Anna Apieta. Richard, however, neglects his wife in favor of his true love--his Crusade--as well as his lesser loves (other men). For Berengaria's sake, Blondel follows Richard on his failed attempt to capture Jerusalem, as well as his journey back to England, leaving only when Richard is captured. Through his eyes and three others'--Berengaria's, Eleanor of Aquitaine's and Anna's--the Crusades and Richard himself are addressed from a number of unfamiliar angles. Humanizing the legend of Richard without cheapening his legacy, Lofts also portrays the oppression inherent in the life of a privileged woman as easily as she dissects the horrors of war. Exquisite and triumphant, this deep look into Richard's world will dazzle those familiar with the period. (Dec.)
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December 07, 2009
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