When Christ and His Saints Slept [NOOK Book]

Overview


In When Christ and His Saints Slept, the newest addition to her highly acclaimed novels of the middle ages, and the first of a trilogy that will tell the story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, master storyteller and historian Sharon Kay Penman illuminates one of the less-known but fascinating periods of English history. It begins with the death of King Henry I, son of William the Conqueror and father of ...
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When Christ and His Saints Slept

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Overview


In When Christ and His Saints Slept, the newest addition to her highly acclaimed novels of the middle ages, and the first of a trilogy that will tell the story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, master storyteller and historian Sharon Kay Penman illuminates one of the less-known but fascinating periods of English history. It begins with the death of King Henry I, son of William the Conqueror and father of Maude, his only living legitimate offspring.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The magnificent combination of history and humanity that Penman's readers have come to expect again animates her latest work (after Here Be Dragons). Any reservations about it lie more with the period than with her evident abilities as a novelist. Despite the very real tragedy inflicted on the common people by the 12th-century battle between Henry I's surviving legitimate heir, Maude, and her cousin, Stephen of Blois (distaff grandson of William the Conqueror), the era lacks epic qualities. It's somewhat like watching an inept and dirty soccer match with England as the ball: siege follows siege, castles are thrown up, opportunistic barons settle grievances or swipe land as Maude and Stephen fumble for the throne. Still, Penman gives a most persuasive and moving account of these complicated politics. She portrays Maude as a strong woman whose frustrations made her brittle, and Stephen as a man too chivalrous for the age of chivalry. She also introduces her first fictional protagonist in the form of Ranulf, one of Maude's illegitimate half-brothers, a successful addition to the cast until he turns a little soppy and marries a blind Welsh cousin. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the narrative is Penman's skill in showing how essentially good people can end up doing great evil. 75,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (Apr.)
Library Journal
King Henry I's death in 1135 led to a bloody 20-year struggle between his only legitimate child, Maude (called Matilda in most historical accounts), and his nephew, Stephen of Blois, for control of England. Penman (The Sunne in Splendour, 1982) showcases her mastery of the historical novel in this long and thoroughly engrossing study of pragmatic politics, idealism, and the role of women during the 12th century. She brings to life a vast array of unforgettable characters, both historical and invented, all of whose loyalties are being constantly tested by the chaos of the times. This novel, the first of a projected trilogy, should win new readers for Penman and delight her longtime fans. It belongs in all public libraries, large and small. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/94.]-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
School Library Journal
YA-Maude, the daughter of King Henry I of England, is in contention for the English throne with her cousin Stephen, the son of William I. This is a rousing and detailed account of that 12th-century struggle between them; both held valid claims and had shifting supporters. This 20-year controversy was much like a civil war, with such loss and pain that the period was characterized by a contemporary chronicle as a time of great wretchedness ``when Christ and His Saints slept.'' The events of this period were dramatic and ironic and carry the plot at a hectic pace. The cast of characters is lengthy, but well defined. The fictional principal, Ranulf, is a young nobleman, a squire pledged to Maude's cause. He is introduced as a teenager and both Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are seen in appealing youth. There are battles, sieges, endless treacheries, and excellent views of primitive and advanced politics, all spiced with a great deal of gallantry, camaraderie, suspense, and sex.-Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Brad Hooper
Tirelessly researched but at times tiresomely presented, this sprawling historical novel nonetheless demonstrates a keen understanding of its time and place in this case, twelfth-century England and France and renders historical figures in this case, crowned and noble heads in terms of flesh and blood rather than as cardboard cutouts--both characteristics being requirements of successful historical fiction. With her latest novel, popular writer Penman inaugurates a trilogy focusing on the lives of King Henry II of England and his colorful consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine. This initial volume paints the background of Henry II's reign: the civil war that raged in England for two decades as the result of a dispute between his mother and her cousin over the succession to the throne. From the darkness of this quarrel, which left England completely wrung out, ultimately stepped Henry Plantagenet, whose ascension as Henry II brought the country back into the light. For avid historical fiction readers and Penman has established a firm following among them, a place to lose oneself for hours on end.
From Barnes & Noble
Henry I is dead, and even as the bells toll, his barons confer edgily. Bound by oath, they must now deal with the King's only surviving legitimate issue: the handsome, intelligent, and commanding Maude, Henry's daughter and heir. Just as Maude reaches for the crown, her trusted cousin Stephen moves with treacherous speed to set himself up as king. Bound and determined, Maude sets sail for England--and for war. In this novel, Sharon Kay Penman brings to life a dark period in English history, painting a canvas rich in the color and textures of the era.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429939522
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Series: Plantagenet Series, #1
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 784
  • Sales rank: 46,723
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Sharon Kay Penman is the author of six critically acclaimed historical novels and four medieval mysteries, one of which was a finalist for an Edgar Award for Best First Mystery from the Mystery Writers of America.


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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 59 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(46)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    Good not sorry I read it but I kept looking at what page I was on

    This book is good not great. I kept looking at what page I was on - it was a little dry. I did finish it - not sorry I read it. I could definately put it down and go do my chores which speaks well for a clean house but not for a book that makes me ignore everything else.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

    Amazing Read

    It took me a month to read however it is a book I will never forget. The story is enchanting and captures you in every way possible. Loved, Loved Loved it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    I'd give it 10 stars if I could

    Excellent read. I found myself 'googling' different facts and Penman was right on target - she brought the characters to life and with the blend of the historical facts and the fiction added in, I just couldn't put the book down. I can assure you, when you read this book, you feel every battle, seige and the horrors the 12th century could bring in England - and bringing the historical figures to life just made the book a great read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    A rich and beautiful work...

    I have never read any of Ms. Penman's works before this book, but I am certain that I will now go purchase all of her other books! I just finished reading this tale, and I find myself missing the characters! For those of you not interested in history, this book will give you reason to start being interested. As one critic commented, the characters are brought to life and are not merely cardboard cuts outs that most students study in school. I've done a lot of research on the geneological data that she represents in this book, and I have to say she has done an AMAZING job! I am a direct descendant of William de Warenne, so it was fun to read about his life and the characters surrounding him. I tip my hat to you, Ms. Penman, and look forward to reading the rest of your books.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    Boring

    Couldn't finish it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2011

    GOOD READ ladylawyer

    This author was new to me. I depend on readers' reviews before buying a book. Thank all the reviewers for honest assessments of this author and this book. I liked Ranuld best. Poor Maude. Did she have any happiness? King Stephen's character flaw was unfortunate though I did enjoy his company. Henry was Henry, enough said. I have to think hard to remember how the book began, but did it not have a glorious end? Elanore, merely a whisper at first, was in the end loudly proclaimed. Deservedly so.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Saga

    When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman features the beginnings of the Plantagenet dynasty. It features the bloody war that raged England between Stephen and his cousin Maude. Stephen steals the crown after King Henry the First's death from Maude, who's the rightful heir to the throne of England. With that main event, you get a lot of war, a lot of betrayal, and a lot of family struggles to keep the crown, or to take it.

    I strongly recommend studying the family tree first which is gratefully provided in the beginning of the book. That way you can find it who is related to who (you'll find out they are all related somehow) and who is married to who. It may help you to take notes so you'll also know who is who as it does get confusing. Especially in the beginning just when the story starts to develop. There are a lot, and I mean A LOT of characters. It may seem overwhelming at first, but the family tree helped me get through with it and although I didn't take notes, I got the main idea on who's who once the story progresses. To me, it felt like reading a very exciting history book. It feels so historically accurate and everything is rich in detail from the way the characters talk to the way everything is described.

    The battle sequences are interesting. They do seem real and they seem quick even though the book is filled with battles and wars and seiges. I like them a lot though as it does make you progress through the novel faster and it adds action to the plot. The politics of this book is also interesting. Although there were parts where I was shocked to see betrayals by certain characters yet it adds excitement and intrigue which in turn makes the book historically accurate as well. Besides the battles and the politics, you are also taken to some of the characters' more personal lives and their personal troubles. For example you have the story of Ranulf, who loves Annora who was his betrothed until she got married off to someone else. In turn he does what he can to win her back. It's these mini stories that also help the story go along and it's nice to see these, as it brings more "flesh" and depth to the characters instead of making them flat and cardboard like.

    What I love the most is the portrayal of women in this book. I love Maude, as she was so strong and determined to continue the war to get her crown back and all of this for her son Henry (the second). You get a lot of strong female characters and how they actually provided the backbone and their never ending support to their husband/son's causes. I liked the portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine despite the myths surrounding her life, I think it was well done and I admired her ability to secure her future without any thought of how others might see her. Basically, you won't see many weepy needy women in this book. They're all a beacon of strength.

    The only problem I have with this book? just way too many characters to go through and it got a little confusing in the beginning. However once you establish the main players, and how they're involved in the war then it gets easier. As I have mentioned before, perhaps it's wise to take notes, or to take into account the family tree in the beginning.

    Overall a wonderful book for historical buffs out there, especially those curious or lovers of the Plantagenet Dynasty. This is my first book about them and I don't regret it one bit. I loved the rich history, it was like looking at one very detailed

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2002

    Magnificent!!!

    I picked this up from the local bookstore only because it had a reference to my beloved Eleanor of Aquitaine. Instead, I found myself growing to respect another of history's great medieval women. The Empress Matilda and her story is one of the most interesting true, factual histories I have ever studied, and lately I have been doing everything in my power to locate histories of that era (see below), only to discover how closely 'Saints' is to the real evidence (blame me, I know, for not taking Penman's author's note seriously, but trust me, what she did say was true). What amazed me was that this civil war - created by Penman to sound so like a fictionous story - is actually so true! Bravo to Penman.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2013

    Well researched. If one is interested in early English @ French

    Well researched. If one is interested in early English @ French history or just early history in general this is a well written book. The reading , at times slows down a bit, but only because of the amount of detail presented. Also because I would Google some of the facts. The life, battles and sieges of 12th England century brings into stark clarity how difficult life was. This is the 2nd book by Penman I have read and look forward to reading the rest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2000

    Penman Breaths Life Into History!

    Every chapter in this book seduces the reader into that complicated maze of English history so smoothly you can't remember the exact moment you became part of it. You just know you are there and you don't want it to end. Great going Sharon Penman!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Another fantastic read!

    Love this series!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Excellent series

    I loved this series. I read all 4 books within 3 months and I can't wait for the 5th book. I appreciate the detail that Ms. Pennman gives the characters and the events of time period. This detail gives the reader the illusion of tramsporting back in time.
    Sharon Kay Pennman and Margaret George are my favorite authors of historical novels!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Learn about history

    The story of henry the second and how he became king of england.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Superd Superb

    This has to be one of the historical novels written in recent years. Great story with real figures.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews

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