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Oh do I start out with the book description or my one word thought about this trilogy, if you will?
I’m going with the one word.
That was 2. But it so was.
Three engrossing historical novels that bring the splendor and scheming of the Middle Ages to vivid life
In The Fatal Crown, set against the seething political intrigues of twelfth-century Europe, two royal heirs surrender to passion as they vie for the most glittering, treacherous prize of all: the English throne. At twenty-five, the widowed Maud must marry once again, this time to fourteen-year-old Geoffrey Plantagenet. But it is with Stephen of Blois, Maud’s fiercest rival for the British throne, that the headstrong princess discovers the true meaning of desire. In Beloved Enemy, Aquitaine is under the French king’s safekeeping, and Eleanor, the Duke of Aquitaine’s eldest daughter, knows she must wed Prince Louis in order to insure the future of her beloved duchy. Fiercely independent, filled with untapped desire, the woman who would be queen must provide Louis VII, her monkish husband, with heirs. But it is young Henry of Anjou who catches Eleanor’s eye—and sets fire to her heart. And in Gilded Cages, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry Plantagenet—whose marriage was born of power, politics, and an all-consuming, fiery love—rule a vast kingdom. At first they work to unify and repair their war-torn lands—before being torn apart by intrigue, adultery, and deadly revenge.
I will be honest. I do not know a lot about the monarchy in England or it’s history. I know some of the more recent history, recent being the last 300 years or so, and I have heard of all the male characters’ names that make up the monarchy in this book. Knowing the names and knowing the history are two different things.
May I say what an exquisite way to learn history?
Now, I know that these books are fiction, in a way, but the majority of the characters existed in history, a lot of the rumors that these stories are written around have been passed down from history. Ellen Jones took all of those moments and wove these intricate tales of intrigue and romance and deceit and conspiracies and it was amazing how it all lined up with the major events in history.
How do I know they lined up with history?
I kept spoiler alerting myself.
I had to Google all the characters and read their actual history. I don’t recommend doing that if you don’t know the history between, say, Stephen of Blois and Empress Maud. I was upset that their relationship did not end the way I hoped it would, but alas, you can’t change history. Bummed myself out when I found out the ending to their story before I got to that part in the book. Don’t do that.
During a lot of the book I was thinking how lucky I was to be born in my time and not back then. Seriously. I have no royal blood in me, but that wouldn’t have mattered back then. Parents arranged their daughters’ marriages based on how that marriage would help their family. I’m not so sure I would have been easy to handle back then seeing as hard hard I was to deal with in the 90’s and rules were a lot less strict for girls then. (Though, I think my parents were stricter than my friends. Love you mom!)
If I had to choose a favorite book out of all 3, it would be The Fatal Crown, the story of Empress Maud. History says that there were rumors about Maud and Stephen of Blois’ relationship and Ellen did a wonderful job jumping off of those rumors. I loved the other two books as well, but that one pulled at my heart the most.
When you put all three books together, there are 1800 + pages. Not light reading. It is wonderful reading though. It took me about six days to read it but I read really fast. Now that I am done with that, as much as I enjoyed it, and as much as I want to see if Ellen Jones has more books out, I need a little light, fluffy, happy reading next.
Thank you to NetGalley for sending me a copy of The Queens of Love and War: The Fatal Crown, Beloved Enemy, and Gilded Cages.
Purchase (for Kindle)
The Queens of Love and War: The Fatal Crown, Beloved Enemy, and Gilded Cages
The Fatal Crown |Beloved Enemy |Gilded Cages