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Child of the Phoenix by Barbara Erskine

Review by Alleandra

The World:

Set in Wales, England and Scotland covering the years 1218 - 1306

The Story:

The novel covers the life of the ficticious Princess Eleyne, youngest daughter of the not ficticious Prince Llywelyn of Wales. She actually may have existed, but not as depicted in this book, something which Ms. Erskine is very upfront about.

Upon Eleyne's birth, the old druid Einion knows that she is destined to be the mother of future Kings of Scotland. But the prophecy doesn't turn out as envisioned.

Eleyne's early years were mostly very happy. Married at age 2 to the 14 year old Earl of Chester, who is also the heir to the childless king of Scotland, she runs riot at her father's various estates until the time she is finally packed off to her husband.

The novel follows the very convoluted political scene of the day, and ties in real action to Eleyne's own life story which coincides with John Balliol's doomed Kingship of Scotland, Edward of England's lordship over it, and Robert Bruce's struggle to take Scotland back from England. There is much action and backhanded intrigue throughout this often engaging book.

Comments:

I am very, very glad I did not live back in those times. Eleyne was a very rich woman, allied to more than one powerful family, yet she had no control over her marriages or her treatment by her husbands. And two of her husbands were pretty bad...one of which was a complete monster.

At 1078 pages, the book was several hundred pages too long. There is a huge amount of story to be told, but much is told with a great deal of repitition. Her characters seemingly come to an epihany, only to backtrack and come back to the same realizations already told. It makes for some frustrating reading at times.

In all, it's a facinating time period, told well for the most part. The descriptions of life are vivid and real. Did I mention I am glad not to have lived back then? The characters are mostly well done, and the only complaint is what I mentioned above. If you like historical fiction, and in particular the time period depicted here, then you most likely will enjoy this book.

4.25 amulets


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