Featured Medieval Historical Fiction Novel

Falls the Shadow - Sharon Kay Penman - Medieval Historical Fiction - Medieval England - Medieval History - Middle Ages HistoryFalls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman

Paperback: 592 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; Reprint edition (August 19, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0312382464

Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly:

It is a mystery why Simon de Montfort’s name is not as instantly recognizable as those of Charlemagne and Richard the Lionhearted. The histories of France and England were significantly shaped by the causes he espoused and the battles he fought. Penman, a writer whose fidelity to historical detail is matched by her gift for narrative, makes Simon, Earl of Leicester, one of her central characters in this sweeping, dramatic saga set in the 13th century. The novel initially suffers from a dual focus, however, since Penman is equally concerned with the descendants of Llewelyn Farr of The Sunne in Splendour, who united the Welsh lords in an uneasy peace. The lives of highborn English, Welsh and French families intersect and painfully collide through complex ties of royal kinship: Montfort’s wife, Nell is sister to King Henry III, one of England’s most incompetent monarchs. Hot-tempered, high principled and “the most celebrated soldier in Christendom,” Montfort enters into bitter conflict with his brother-in-law, becoming leader of the barons who oppose Henry’s irresponsible leadership. Henry is forced to accept the Oxford Provisions that limit his power and affirm the rights of English citizens, but after two decades of intrigue, internecine conflict, shifting alliances and full-fledged civil war, Henry’s son Edward Plantagenet prevails in the bloody battle of Evesham. Penman brilliantly evokes the medieval world with its deeply ingrained religious convictions that made men believe themselves directly favored or abandoned by God, a mental construct hard to reconcile with “the seductive allure of a chivalric brotherhood based on the sword.” As usual, she illuminates the events of individual lives as well as the political and cultural forces that characterized this tumultuous era, in a thoroughly engrossing book.

Average Customer Review on Amazon: 4.5 stars (60 reviews)

3 thoughts on “Featured Medieval Historical Fiction Novel

  • This was my least favorite of the Welsh Trilogy – although my least favorite Penman is still better than a lot of the stuff out there! I had never heard of Simon de Montfort before I read this and had no idea how big of a role he played in developing government. I read somewhere that there is a depiction of him of some sort in the US Capitol building.

  • I am the same as Daphne. This was my least favourite of the Welsh trilogy, but still a damn good read. Simon has definitely left an impression on me. I have heard that his portrayal here is very positive, and I am sure that I have read somewhere that Penman acknowleges that since writing the book she has found out things about him that would have changed her portrayal of him if she was writing the book now.

  • Wow not sure what happened to my last comment, but here it is again… sorry about that.

    This is the first I have even heard of the Welsh Trilogy – I feel like I have been living under a rock! I have been on a historical fiction binge especially when it comes to medieval history. Currently I am reading a really great book titled, “Power of a Woman,” by Robert Fripp, which is based upon the turbulent life of Eleanor of Aquitaine who was wife to two warring kings, first Louis VII of France, then England’s Henry II. Awesome book. Once I have finished I am definitely checking out the Welsh Triology. Thank you for the suggestion.

    http://eleanor.robertfripp.ca/index.cfm?pagepath=Readers__Groups_Guide&id=21479

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