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Old 12-09-2010, 10:01 AM
Malthus is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 18,184
I'm reading Falls the Shadow, by Sharon Kay Penman, the second in a series (the first was Here Be Dragons of historical fiction dealing with the royal families of Medieval Wales and England.

Very engaging and, I think, has at least the feel of historical accuracy.

The major theme here is that, due to the centrality of the marriage alliance in this time, all of the antagonists are very closely related to each other - the first book, centred on the wife of the prince of Wales, whose father was the King of England, was all about how this woman gets torn between the two of them (and has to come grudgingly to realize her beloved father, who took her in and accepted her in spite of her illigitimacy when her maternal family utterly rejected her, is in fact a sort of monster).

While the plots often centre on stong women, does not fall into the trap of imputing modern attitudes to such matters as the relationship between the sexes to medieval characters. You have Elanore of Aquitane, not a medieval Gloria Steinem ...

conflict is driven by attitudes that at least appear sensibly location-sensitive (for example, a major plot point turns on the antagonism created among the Welsh princely families by the fact that, under Welsh rules, being illigitimate was no bar to inheritence and succession and all brothers, at least in theory, were supposed to inherit equally - leading to fraticidial conflicts being a common feature of their lives).