Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Early Medieval #Histfic Lotharingia: Charlemagne’s Heir by @larafbyrne #TuesdayBookBlog

Lotharingia: Charlemagne's HeirLotharingia: Charlemagne’s Heir by LARA BYRNE

4 stars

Lotharingia: Charlemagne’s Heir is an early medieval story that begins in 1062. The story goes back and forth between Germany and Italy and features the political and religious conflicts of the times.

Into a bubbling cauldron of turmoil go Pope Alexander II, King Heinrich IV (Holy Roman Emperor), Matilda of Tuscany, secret religious artefacts and a prophecy handed down through the generations from Charlemagne. The author weaves a believable story from real historical characters from an era in which few written records were made.

The book begins with a long list of characters and I was a little daunted—concerned that I would never get to remember them all. However, once I got into the story, it wasn’t too hard to keep the main players organised in my head. In a period in which many noblewomen were no more than political pawns, the author has brought to light several strong female characters. Matilda of Tuscany and her mother Beatrice of Canossa held powerful positions through lands and their support for the papacy; added to this they owned several rare holy relics which were highly prized at the time.

I thought that the author did a good job with this book, especially considering the complex political situation between the Pope and The Holy Roman Emperor, a situation which was always threatening to topple from its precarious power balance. I liked Matilda and the fictional account of her life felt real; I could see myself happily reading more from this era in a second book.

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Desc 1

Barely known in the English-speaking world, Countess Matilde of Tuscany was a trailblazer who defied the gender expectations of her age, eventually becoming the most powerful woman in the Holy Roman Empire. Lotharingia is a fictionalised re-telling of her youth, as she grapples with the constraints of femininity in her quest for self-definition, power, and love.

Countess Matilde is the sole heir to Tuscany, a descendant of Charlemagne, and a trained warrior, but a woman can only rule with a powerful husband at her side. Even her formidable mother’s mysterious relics and diplomatic nous cannot change Rome’s mind about her betrothal to the duke of Lotharingia, a man who fills her with dread. Determined to choose her path in life, Matilde enlists the support of powerful players, leaving no stone unturned to secure her freedom to love and rule.

Across the Alps, Matilde’s overlord, King Heinrich of Germany, is coming of age, in a court rife with intrigue. His request to divorce sends shock waves through Christendom, and Rome, alarmed at the potential political consequences, decides that Matilde’s marriage can no longer wait.

When, after a chance meeting, Heinrich rescues Matilde from her abusive husband, friendship blossoms into forbidden love, a love with unexpected consequences.

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#NewRelease #HistFic set in #Iceland #My #Bookreview of Smile Of The Wolf by @TimLeachWriter @HoZ_Books

Smile of the WolfSmile of the Wolf by Tim Leach

4 stars

Smile Of The Wolf is historical fiction set in eleventh century Iceland written in the style of a story handed down through the generations, told as a winter past-time.

This is the tale of two men: Kjaran a poet, singer or skald, who sings in exchange for food and shelter, and Gunnar, an ex-warrior, now a father and farmer. One night the pair set out to hunt a ghost. Instead, they kill a man. Under Icelandic law they should pay the man’s family a blood-price, but instead they try to hide the murder.

Gunnar’s guilt gnaws away at him and the pair are exposed at the annual Althing gathering. Kjaran takes the blame for the murder and is made an outlaw for three years. Now he can be legally hunted down by the victim’s family to avenge the man’s death. He took the blame in an attempt to keep Gunnar and his family safe, but three years is a long time to be on the run.

This is a tale of cold and darkness in a desolate setting. The laws of the land revolve around honour and feuds. With their Viking backgrounds, the inhabitants fled old homelands in search of a new start. They wanted to leave behind Norway and a king who drove them from their homes. They hoped for a land where every man was equal. But keeping the peace amongst men who come from warring backgrounds is hard and blood-feuds are accepted practices. The problem is, where do they end?

I would describe this as slow-paced, reflecting the story-telling style. It is also quite cold and harsh with just the odd hint of warmth and hope, rather like the landscape of the wintry isle. A book which made me yearn for a soft blanket, a roaring fire and a cup of hot-chocolate to chase away my chilly feelings.

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Book description

Eleventh-century Iceland. One night in the darkness of winter, two friends set out on an adventure but end up killing a man. Kjaran, a traveling poet who trades songs for food and shelter, and Gunnar, a feared warrior, must make a choice: conceal the deed or confess to the crime and pay the blood price to the family. But their decision leads to a brutal feud: one man is outlawed, free to be killed by anyone without consequence; the other remorselessly hunted by the dead man’s kin. Set in a world of ice and snow, this is an epic story of exile and revenge, of duels and betrayals, and two friends struggling to survive in a desolate landscape, where honor is the only code that men abide by.

About the author

Writer, climber, whisky drinker, chess dabbler and general purpose layabout. London exile currently encamped in the North and loving it. I’ve studied and taught creative writing at the University of Warwick and worked in bookshops in London and Greece.

If you’d like to know any more about me or my books, just ping me a message. Thanks for stopping by!

Tim Leach

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#Historical #Romance Beguiled By The Forbidden Knight by @ElisabethHobbes #TuesdayBookBlog

Beguiled by the Forbidden KnightBeguiled by the Forbidden Knight by Elisabeth Hobbes

4 stars

Beguiled By The Forbidden Knight is an historical romance set in Yorkshire, a few years after the Norman Conquest. King William has decreed that England shall be held and secured through marriages to create alliances. To this effect, Gilbert du Rospez has been sent to Haxby to meet his betrothed, Sigrun.  Alas, she is not there, because she was sent to a priory for safety while Yorkist rebels tried to hold out against William’s armies.

In truth Gilbert would prefer to be off hunting and admiring horses than chasing after a bride he doesn’t want. So he asks his friend, Gui, to take his place. Shrewdly, he promises Gui a place of his own, once he returns with his bride-to-be.

There follows a complex and entertaining web of mistaken identity, escape, and conflicting emotions.  This is a delightful easy read romance, the reader can guess the probable outcome quite early, but the pleasure is in the tantalising build to the final denouement. Not a book for those who prefer their romance hot and spicy; I’d say this one sits among the slower simmer style storylines.

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Book description

He’s her enemy…

…and she must not fall for him!

When her mistress is claimed as an enemy knight’s betrothed, handmaiden Aelfhild knows it would be too dangerous for her lady; she must go in her place. But there’s more to the scarred knight than she first thought—she isn’t expecting to fall for him! As the line between friend and enemy blurs, Aelfhild realizes she might be protecting her mistress, but not her heart…

About the author

I grew up in York where I spent most of my teenage years wandering around the city looking for a handsome Roman or Viking to sweep me off my feet. Sadly it never happened but I developed a love of the past and went on to read History and Art History at university before venturing into the world of teaching. These days I hold down jobs as a teacher and mum. I live in Cheshire with my husband, two young children and two cats with ridiculous names.
I love historical fiction and have a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes. When I’m not writing, I spend a lot of my spare time reading and have become something of a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book!

Elisabeth Hobbes

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