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The Winner shall be drawn on the 23rd of August
This beautifully written love-story-come-historical-intrigue was just the thing to keep me hooked. It has everything a book needs to keep me turning the pages, love, betrayal, conflict, and a fantastic leading lady and man. It is rare for me to give out such praise for a novel these days as it takes a lot to float my boat, but this book deserves the accolade of the most highest. Its absolutely awesome.
|Lord Mortimer and Isabella |
ride at the head of their contingent
In this second of Ms Belfrage's The King's Greatest Enemy, we see fictional characters, Adam and his lovely wife, Kit, struggle to keep themselves out of trouble as they mingle with dangerous courtiers at the palace of Edward II. Adam's former lord, Roger Mortimer, having escaped from custody, is somewhere abroad, working on his revenge strategy, and Adam is now sworn to serve the young Prince Edward. Kit has to serve the queen, but her traitor's blood soon becomes known to the king, and he banishes her from court, separating her from her beloved Adam, who is honour bound to stay and serve his young prince. This is how we start Days of Sun and Glory, and we are set from then, on a path in the game of thrones and murder and intrigue, as various players lust for power and revenge.
|Kit is forced to say goodbye to her Adam|
What I love most about this book is the manner in which the author develops her characters. In the first book, we see a beautiful Isabella whose air of mystery had me wondering if we were really seeing the 'true' Isabella. She is portrayed as both kind and helpful, and appears to be erring on the side of right, although she can be caustic at times, and very 'queenly' but we get the impression, she is going to help Adam and Kit because she is a 'nice' lady. In Days of Sun and Glory, we begin to see a different Isabella emerging and along with her, a new Mortimer, whose character is obviously affected by his time in that hell hole of a prison he was incarcerated within. Belfrage knows how to flesh out characters, presenting them in such a way, that we get to know them, learn about their foibles as if we are Kit and Adam ourselves. I love how she is able to keep us in the mindsets of the de Guirandes, offering the reader a truly powerful emotional experience, by showing us exactly what they feel, sense, hear and see of their world.
Secondly, I love the relationship between the two main characters, Kit and Adam. I love the love story that stirs my very being when we read their scenes together. Whether they are arguing or making love, Ms Belfrage takes us into their world and we 'see' their scenes unfold as if we are them for those moments. Its rare that I wake up from a scene and am surprised that I have come back to reality. And its rare that I dream about a book that I am reading and that I am one of its characters, so immersed in the story was I.
In the first book, I was not always fond of Kit. She could be very self-centred, often making it all about her, and Adam was sometimes so laid back to the point of being stupid. In this second book, I am in love with them both, although if I'm honest, I usually take Adam's side in an argument, telling Kit exactly what I think of her version of events.
|Edward and Despenser|
I have always had a soft spot for Edward II. Yes, he was a failure as a king, but he was a man ahead of his time, out of his time zone, in a world where people were not openly deviant without it being at their peril, and especially if they were king. Edward, it seemed, disliked the art of kingship, and preferred to be out thatching roofs or making boats with the lower echelons of his subjects. However we do not see these characteristics in Ms. Belfrage's book, and as endearing as these qualities might be, they were not conducive in the conducting of the affairs of a kingdom. He loved other men and was extremely generous to those he favoured, so much so, to the exclusion of others he should have been kinder to. Ms Belfrage shows us the darker side of Edward, the one where he behaves like a petulant child who does not get their own way. The man who loves blindly to the exclusion of all common sense and allows men such as the Despensers to do harm to others, with Edward turning a blind eye to the evil short-comings of Hugh Despenser and his cronies. He allows Despenser to continue in his mission to destroy Adam and his family in his deadly game of cat and mouse, abusing poor Kit and Adam with blackmail and all sorts of torments.
Ms Belfrage draws her characters very well, and her fictional protagonists mingle seamlessly with historical persons of the time. The author's ability to absorb her fiction into true events and politics of the time, hooks the reader in, thereby keeping you turning page after page as Kit and Adam show us their world through their eyes. This is very cleverly done, and I love how we are kept in the mindsets of these two characters, who are close enough to the events and the main players to have been affected by them. They don't always like what is happening, but their positions in life mean that they are powerless to prevent what is happening.
This book is like a game of chess, and the board is setting in which they play, it is their world, their environments and each line of squares is a pathway. On one side we have the king, and his Despenser, aptly in the queen's position. On the other, we have Mortimer and Isabella, respectively in the same positions. Each player's actions have heavy consequences on those around them, including Kit and Adam, who play as pawns, and the young Prince Edward, in the knight's position, all of whom suffer the most. And there are other 'pieces' who also play their parts.
|The young Prince Edward|
The world in which we find ourselves is the 14thc, but the main focus is not on the buildings, the environment, the clothing, and the everyday things that might add to a backdrop. Ms Belfrage is a competent writer and does not need to flood the pages of her book with endless descriptive passages. Her world is there, within the narrative, slipped in with the prose, what they may be eating, wearing or doing is written into the sentences without hampering the flow of the story.
I have to say that I loved this book, and believe it to be a triumph even over the first in the series, In the Shadow of the Storm, which is a fabulous book also. I cannot recommend it any more highly and those who love Anna Belfrage's books will adore this! I am looking forward with baited breath to the next in the series!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing.
Anna has authored the acclaimed time-slip series The Graham Saga, winner of multiple awards, including the HNS Indie Award 2015. Her new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, is set in the 1320s and features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures during Roger Mortimer’s rise to power.
To buy a copy of Anna's book - here is the Universal link: http://myBook.to/DOSG
Read more about Anna on her website: Website: http://www.annabelfrage.com
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