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A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen

In 1002, fifteen#65533;-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the perfect antidote to Tudor fatigue, Shadow on the Crown is packed with nonstop action, romance, and plenty of deliciously creepy Gothic flavor.

Author Notes

Patricia Bracewell grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. She holds an M.A. in English Literature and her historical research has taken her to Britain, France and Denmark. She has two grown sons, and she lives with her husband in Oakland, California.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The first volume of a trilogy, Shadow on the Crown is the story of Emma, queen consort to the eleventh-century English king Aethelred II. A Norman in a loveless marriage of alliance, Emma is a spirited, clever 15-year-old who earns the love of her new subjects as well as that of Athelstan, eldest son of Aethelred. Emma returns that love, but will her sworn duty to her odious husband destroy the forbidden romance between queen and aetheling (prince)? And does love really belong to some other world, as Emma muses? In addition to the fraught love story, the novel examines the ongoing conflict between Aethelred's forces and those of Swein Forkbeard, the canny, self-styled king of the Danes. Based in part on the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Bracewell's sweeping first novel is richly researched and creates a fully realized eleventh-century world of violence, power, intrigue, and superstition. Lovers of historical romance will be pleased.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Striking a quivering bull's eye with the first book of a planned trilogy, Bracewell's enthralling debut begins with Emma of Normandy crossing the "Narrow Sea" in 1002 C.E. to marry the much older King Aethelred. Emma is ill-prepared for the trials that come with her new position; not yet knowing the heart of the old king she makes the mistake of demanding the title of queen. The king, regretting the hasty decision of "taking a Norman slut to wife," quickly tires of his demanding new bride; jealous rivals vie for Emma's crown; and the threat of a Viking invasion constantly looms. But Emma's role in the English court and her only chance of survival come down to heeding her mother's words: "[Y]our first and most important task," she instructed Emma before her departure, "is to bear a son." Only then will her crown be secure. In time, Emma wins the hearts of her subjects as well as the affection of a young man in her husband's court. Determined and savvy, Emma is a strong character that refuses to be cowed by her circumstances. With a light touch, Bracewell delivers a highly entertaining addition to the historical fiction genre. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (Feb. 11) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

This debut novel (and the first volume in a trilogy) mines the historic Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to depict the life of Emma of Normandy (985-1052). In the early 11th century, the aging and widowed Saxon king Athelred marries a Norman bride to strengthen his divided country's ties with foreign allies. Teenage Emma learns quickly that both her Norman nationality and her Danish ancestors are suspect in the kingdom she now calls home. The inexperienced queen is caught politically between the raiding Danes and the warring Normans and emotionally between her distrustful husband and his young, attractive heir. Unable to depend on a haunted and vengeful king, she must form her own alliances carefully to protect herself, her child, and her new country. -VERDICT The familiar themes of political rivalry, court scandal, and disputed lineage so often explored in historical fiction get a new cast of schemers and scoundrels set in a less familiar but no less dramatic period of English history. Readers of historical sagas and romances will embrace this rich narrative. [See Prepub Alert, 8/9/12.]--Catherine Lantz, Morton Coll. Lib., Cicero, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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