Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Emma Reviews: The Price of Blood

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The Price of Blood
Drawing July 14, 2015
This drawing has been held and a winner announced at Facebook.
Please see new reviews for more chances!

We have a giveaway with every review!

Emma must protect her only child without abandoning her noble position. And her inner conflict, between maternal instinct and royal duty will be played out against the dramatic and bloody struggle for Britain’s rule

Well, that blurb alone should warn you. Warn you that you need to organise your life around reading a story where fact and fiction dovetail: a seamless tale of brutality and hardship one can only imagine.  And the author has certainly imagined ...

The Price of Blood is the second book in the trilogy following the enigmatic Queen Emma, the Norman bride of the English king Ethelred. The first book, Shadow on the Crown, covers the years 1001 - 1005 and introduces us to a young Emma embarking on her marriage to King Ethelred and her new life in England. This second book however, can be read as a stand alone and covers the years 1006 - 1012.  This may seem like aeons into the past but it is pitiful that this period of English history isn’t taught more in schools or discussed more, for surely it is an era of disruption, upheaval and hardship that we, in our modern world, cannot begin to even comprehend. The land was being ripped asunder by Viking invaders, fighting earls, mistrust, anger, greed and dark energies. It is thanks to stories like this people become aware England did actually have a history before 1066 and just how enthralling and real that history was. Not always pleasant but history nonetheless.

The novel picks up with Emma dealing with being treated as an outsider after the death of one of the king’s sons, against a backdrop of famine, death and invasion. Tense. Terse. The ensuing story doesn’t drop a stitch of this thread until ... well, the end.  

The Price of Blood resourcefully divides into sections via quotes from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles with subsequent chapters unfurling the story to follow that particular quote. What I was pleased to discover was the fact there are no gaps in between these sections, no feeling of a jagged story or stuttering paragraphs. The tale is told by differing points of view on occasion but this is relevant, adequate and contributes to depth of character and telling of the story. 

The author writes with a certain aplomb that is a requisite when composing a novel of this calibre. It is not an easy story - for a start, it is a rarely explored era and and the author’s note at the end clearly explains there is actually very scant information available to research. Whilst we may have the Anglo Saxon Chronicles to fall back on, there are still evidential gaps in history. These gaps have been sublimely imbued by the author’s imagination and that’s the fantastic bit; you cannot tell fact from fiction. The story ebbs and flows so naturally, I really would have believed Emma and her stepson Athelstan loved each other. I hope they did! It is this interspersion of imagined events that adds a softer, emotional depth to a thriller, a mystery, a murderous historical novel. 

In this second part of the trilogy we see a subtle but definite shift in Emma, the foundations of the great queen - great person even - that she becomes. The author has masterfully weaved the nuanced character of Emma from page one until the climatic end of the novel amidst a deadly cast of characters that would be enough to drive any sane person over the edge! Emma is just an example of how strong the women must have been to survive in what was most definitely a man’s world. This lady was right there at the top of power politics and played it well for her own sake as well as the safety and well being of her children, even when that meant being parted from them. As for her eldest, Edward, this novel begins to explore the elements of his personality that came to the fore when he was king in later years. Not necessarily good ones either. I am hoping there will be more of their rocky relationship in the third instalment.

Thanks to the professional prose of the author we can ride these emotions with Emma: despair at parting with her children to the ultimate power play at the end. We can feel the desperate state of the country, smell the camp fires of the invaders and by the end of it all, you will feel you know the Viking players personally! It is a book that ignites one’s imagination, firing a need to pursue one’s own research and learn for ourselves just how clever and tough Queen Emma had to be. She is a historical character worthy of having a great story told and I believe this book, this trilogy, to be it. 

Quite simply, a wonderful and highly recommended read.

Author Patricia Bracewell has so graciously offered a FREE COPY of The Price of Blood for one lucky winner. To get your name in the drawing, simply comment below or at this review's associated Facebook thread, located here

About the Author:

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and spent much of my childhood curled up on a sofa with my nose in a book. Usually it was a novel set in England, although why someone who grew up amid Southern California's dry hills and sunshine would be so drawn to stories set in England's wet, green dales is still a mystery, but there it is. We're often drawn to what we don't have, I suppose.

In college I majored in English literature; [t]hen it was back to California and graduate school where I earned a Master's degree and a California teacher's credential. In the midst of family life I was actively studying the process of writing fiction, something my college courses had not really addressed. Then one day (this is the Once Upon a Time part) I came across an English queen whose name was completely unfamiliar to me. Intrigued, I began to research and began to write the novel that would become Shadow on the Crown. It is the first book in a trilogy and The Price of Blood its sequel. Currently I am hard at work on book number three. It seems I've come full circle - my mind in England somewhere, wandering an ancient, green, Anglo-Saxon landscape while I sit here in California with my nose planted firmly in a book. 

You can learn more about Patricia Bracewell and her books at her website and Facebook page

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Emma's interview with the author!


Emma Powell has been reviewing for us since The Review's debut. She has since joined the admins team and you can find more of Emma's scribblings on her blog here.


  1. Fantastic review. I would so love to win this book as I absolutely loved the first book. Thank you for the chance.

  2. Add me to the list of salivating pups ;)

  3. Lovely review and certainly one I would enjoy reading.

  4. Sharon Bennett Connolly7 July 2015 at 06:00

    Wonderful review. Can't wait to read the book.

  5. Read and absolutely enjoyed the first part of Emma's story. Would absolutely love to get book two!

  6. I would love to win a copy of this book and what a great review.

  7. Excellent review. I'd love to win a copy of Pat's book!

  8. Would love to read it. Emma of Normandy is a figure I have looked at and found intriguing.

  9. This sounds really good! Thanks for the insightful review, I'd love to win a copy.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Great review! I would love to win a copy! Thanks for the chance.

  12. This review and the info on the interview, especially re: the research, made me really want to read this! Count me in! :D

  13. I'd love to win it! I got a signed copy of Pat's first book at a signing this spring.

    kescah at gmail dot com