Princess Alais of France travels to England to marry Richard the Lionhearted, the son of King Henry II, armed only with her dowry, the valuable Vexin. When Alais arrives in the land of her father’s enemies, she is welcomed by the beautiful and powerful queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor, the richest and most influential woman in Europe, sees a kindred soul in the young French princess. Intrigued by the girl’s strength and fire, Eleanor adopts Alais as her protégée, teaching the girl what it takes to be a woman of power in a world of men. But Eleanor and Alais’ love for each other is threatened when the capricious and imperious King Henry meets the lovely young princess. Fascination with the king draws Alais deep into political intrigue, and she soon discovers what Eleanor is prepared to do to retain her position as queen. Alais, the one-time pawn, takes ruthless action of her own, as the two women become rivals both for the king’s love and the throne of England itself.
About the Author
Christy English has a bachelor's degree in history from Duke University. The Queen's Pawn is her first novel. Christy describes herself:
I am a writer of historical fiction centering on Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alais of France, and the Plantagenets of the 12th Century. Look for my novel THE QUEEN’S PAWN from the New American Library, an imprint of Penguin.Check out Christy's website.
My second novel, about Eleanor of Aquitaine’s marriage to Louis VII of France, TO BE QUEEN, will be published by the New American Library in April 2011.
Princess Alais of France, the daughter of King Louis of France, is brokered in marriage to Prince Richard the Lionheart, son of King Henry and Louis' ex Eleanor of Aquitaine. Alais is only 9 years old at the time, but she is sent away to live in a convent in England until she is of marriageable age.
At fourteen years of age, Alais is brought to Winchester Castle to meet her betrothed, and to be presented to the King and gain his approval for the marriage. She is under the wing of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who becomes something of a mother to Alais, and the only one that Alais has ever known, her own mother having died during her birth.
Soon after Alais turns against her adoptive mother Eleanor and betrothed Richard, and turns towards King Henry, becoming his mistress.
This story was pretty well-developed, the characters of Alais and Eleanor were relatively well fleshed out. Probably the main issue is that, as I get back into reading and try different genres, I find that historical fiction is probably not the best genre for me. I always find myself a little bored. It just doesn't give me that "edge of my seat" thrill that I seek when reading. But that is no fault of the author.
So I would say that if you like historical fiction, then you would probably really enjoy this story and should give it a go. Me? I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
My thanks to author Christy English for a free copy of The Queen's Pawn in exchange for my honest review.