Customer Reviews for

Shadow on the Crown: A Novel

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted February 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    In this stunning debut of a planned trilogy, Bracewell tackles t

    In this stunning debut of a planned trilogy, Bracewell tackles the life of Emma of Normandy who was sent to marry King Aethelred of England in the place of her ailing sister in 1002 A.D. One condition that was requested by Emma’s father, Richard of Normandy, was that Aethelred would anoint her as queen which leads to Aethelred instantly regretting his decision after their marriage. Aethelred already paranoid and mistrusting of everyone around him turns his anger towards his young wife. Emma learns fast that she must tread lightly and that having a son would be the only way to secure her position but even she can predict what Aethelred might do next. Aethelred’s oldest son Athelstan is instantly attracted to his father’s new wife even though he knows it is forbidden. He also knows he should fear that Emma bears a son to replace him in line for the throne because his father has no love for his eldest son and is constantly berating and humiliating him in public.

    Emma is thrown to wolves when she comes to England. Even with her vast knowledge in languages she is unfamiliar with court politics and her eyes are opened wide when her rival Elgiva of Northampton comes to court and insinuates herself in the King’s bed in hopes of him setting aside Emma. Emma knows she needs to win the hearts of the people of England and forge some alliances with some influential men because Swein Forkbeard and the Vikings are knocking at the front doors and ready to take over England in revenge for the St. Brice’s Day Massacre in which Aethelred ordered the extermination of all Danes that included Forkbeard’s sister.

    Bracewell does a remarkable job mixing the real events in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle with her own imagination without detracting from the heart of the story. She weaves a story of innocence lost, treachery, hope and love that ends with Emma realizing that she must do whatever needs to be done to make her son the next king. This was a refreshing storyline and I look forward to the next installment.

    (DRC was received via publisher in exchange for an honest review)

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    4.5 Stars 'Shadow on the Crown' is a beautifully written novel

    4.5 Stars

    'Shadow on the Crown' is a beautifully written novel set in the year 1002 that follows young Emma of Normandy as she is sent across the Narrow Sea from her home to wed the much older King Athelred of England. After being thrown into a new land and a new kingdom, she must deal with a husband who doesn't trust her, stepchildren who despise her, and another woman who will do anything to get her hands on the crown. Emma must learn to adapt to her new role as Queen and she makes alliances with men at court in order to win the love of her English people. Soon Emma finds herself falling in love with a man who is not her husband, the king, all while dealing with the dangerous threat of a Viking invasion that would threaten not only her role as Queen, but her life as well.

    I don't normally read much historical fiction, but this book's description had me intrigued as it was set in medieval England and the surrounding area. I thought that a book with a strong female lead during that time would prove to be fascinating. Well, I was definitely not disappointed with this book. Emma proves to be a strong young woman who must mature and adapt to her new life quickly. She is brave, courageous, loyal, and self-assured - all great qualities for a Queen and as the novel's leading lady. The other characters weren't as rounded as she was, but they all provided the required situations and relational ties - both good and bad - that Emma needed in order to grow as a character. The setting was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the time period as well as the varying locales found throughout the novel. The writing was what really got to me. The author has a magical way of writing that draws the reader into the scenario at hand - whatever it may be. I found myself easily imagining the story unfolding while I felt I was amongst the characters. I could shut my eyes and see what the author was describing, which is a marvelous trait that not all writers have. The writing itself was wonderful and had a solid plot and pace that felt natural. Overall, I loved this magnificent adventure back in time to witness the brave life of Emma and the opportunity to love her and root for her throughout the book. I very highly recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction as well as to readers who love a fantastic story told by a truly enchanting author.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I confess to knowing next to nothing about this time period.

    I confess to knowing next to nothing about this time period. I'm familiar with William the Conquer who is descended from these people. But, that is about as far back as my English history knowledge really goes.

    This was a brutal time period. I know that in this time period women were little more than property. Men often took what they felt was rightfully theirs and sometimes did so by force. Keeping a mistress on the side was common place, and wives were expected to look the other way. But honestly, this took that idea to a whole new level. It was extremely graphic, but I was reminded that even in the historical fiction time period I tend to read, women were still progressing forward.
    I loved Emma. I think she knew from the start that her place as wife and Queen would not be easy. She was a bargaining tool and nothing more. At any moment, someone could go back on the agreement made when she was married and place her in danger. But, she also held power that women before her lacked. She was made Queen and gave birth to a son that contested the line of heirs. She never wavered in her beliefs to get what she felt she deserved.

    King Athelred was an interesting character. There were times that I thought if he gave Emma half a chance he might actually grow to love her. But, all he can see is his resentment and fear. His own paranoia and delusions are really what drive this story to his breaking point. He refuses to see reason from any of his advisers. He is convinced his sons are trying to take the thrown from him. His thought process and actions lead to so many horrible repercussions.

    This is suppose to be the first in a series. I would be interested to read the next one. Emma kind of comes off as calculating at the end. The little research I've done makes her seem less than that. Although I do find in fascinating that she was the wife of 2 kings, mother to 2 kings, and stepmother to 2 kings. What a lineage to pass on!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    Shadow in the Crown is a convincing, well written work of histor

    Shadow in the Crown is a convincing, well written work of historical fiction. Medieval England is one of my favorite time periods and the plot moves along quickly here as Queen Emma faces the reality of the times for women. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, interspersed with the plot, anoints the book with an authenticity that helps the reader suspend disbelief. The usual themes of pride, jealously, betrayal and abandonment are explored in depth from Bracewell's rich imagination. I am eagerly anticipating book two of the trilogy.



    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2013

    Wow, what a read. I enjoyed this book very much. I stayed up so

    Wow, what a read. I enjoyed this book very much. I stayed up so late reading last night that my eyes hurt and I have a headache. I  love that it is part of a series, but I hate that I have to wait for most likely a long time before the next installment.  Though I loved the book, I just did not like any of the characters. Hopefully, book 2 will provide some much needed likable characters!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2014

    Great story - looking forward to the next however I always fear

    Great story - looking forward to the next however I always fear trilogies because the cadence and repetition become boring by book 3.  I hope that I am proved wrong as I could not put the first down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Great historical fiction

    I read a lot and really enjoyed this historical fiction. Looking forward to her sequel!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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