The Emma of Normandy Series: Book 3
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
A breathtaking conclusion to Bracewell’s Emma of Normandy Trilogy, brimming with treachery, heartache, tenderness, and passion as the English queen confronts ambitious and traitorous councilors, invading armies, and the Danish king’s power-hungry concubine.
In the year 1012 England’s Norman-born Queen Emma has been ten years wed to an aging, ruthless, haunted King Æthelred. The marriage is a bitterly unhappy one, between a queen who seeks to create her own sphere of influence within the court and a suspicious king who eyes her efforts with hostility and resentment. But royal discord shifts to grudging alliance when Cnut of Denmark, with the secret collusion of his English concubine Elgiva, invades England at the head of a massive Viking army. Amid the chaos of war, Emma must outwit a fierce enemy whose goal is conquest and outmaneuver the cunning Elgiva, who threatens all those whom Emma loves.
While historical accounts of the lives of kings through the ages have been plentiful, there’s much less information about the queens who were at their sides. Author Patricia Bracewell dives into the life of Emma of Normandy, 11th-century queen of England, in her series, The Emma of Normandy Trilogy. The third and final book in the series, The Steel Beneath the Silk, concludes the saga set forth in the earlier books, Shadow of the Crown and The Price of Blood.
The author’s approach to the subject matter is a delicate mix of documented history with artistic license taken to fill in the gaps. Not only does she provide a cast of characters along with a glossary and maps at the beginning of each book, but she includes a note at the end of each one where she shares research and her personal theories. As a reader, I found this approach highly appealing.
Love, honor, intrigue, and battle are only a few of the many themes explored throughout the saga. While on the surface it is a tale of a little-known queen, the series sheds light on the plight of women, particularly those of noble blood during this time frame. As Vikings continued to raid the English countryside, King Aethelred sought a Norman marriage as a possible solution. Young and virtually alone in an unknown land, Emma was forced to endure the cruelties of the old king while finding her place at court. The author re-created the time period so masterfully that I imagined I was there at Emma’s side.
The series must be read in sequence, with each book in excess of 400 pages. Not since Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series have I devoured a set of books so quickly. Even the secondary characters captivated my attention, especially Emma’s stepchildren and retainers. Once finished, I was able to reflect on the significance of each title when looking at Emma’s life. By the end of the series, Emma had not only made a place for herself in the hearts of her English subjects, but she demonstrated a courageous spirit in the process.
Author Patricia Bracewell deserves a basket of stars for delivering an engrossing look into Emma of Normandy. Her attention to detail, coupled with a solid grasp of research, makes this series one of the best selections of historical fiction I have ever had the privilege of reading.
Patricia Bracewell grew up in Los Angeles where her love of stories led to college degrees in Literature, a career as a high school English teacher, and a yearning to write. Her first novel, Shadow of the Crown, about the 11th-century queen of England, Emma of Normandy, was published in 2013. Its sequel, The Price of Blood, appeared in 2015. The final book of her Emma of Normandy Trilogy, The Steel Beneath the Silk will be published March 2, 2021.
Patricia lives with her husband in Oakland, California.
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