...but I've added a countdown to the release of Sharon Kay Penman's newest book, 'The Devil's Brood.' This book will complete her fabulous trilogy surrounding Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, which began with When Christ and his Saints Slept and Time and Chance. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure (and I do mean sheer pleasure) of reading the first two books, allow me to bring you up to date:
When Christ and His Saints Slept begins with the death of Henry I, King of the English and Duke of Normandy (at this point in British history, the term King of England was not yet in use). Leaving no legitimate male heirs, Henry I names his daughter Maude - historically known as Mathilda - heir to the thrown. Lack of support from the nobles, who were uneasy with the concept of a female ruler, led to Maude's cousin Stephen seizing the crown. For the next nineteen years, Stephen and Maude battled for control of England and Normandy, devastating the populace and countryside during a time chroniclers referred to as the period when "Christ and his saints slept."
Time and Chance, the second novel of the series, leads us to the accession of Maude's son, Henry II, the first royal to be styled the King of England. Henry's brilliant marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine is a royal scandal of epic proportions and his fierce friendship, and subsequent tragic falling-out, with Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, are brought to vivid life. Henry and Eleanor's marriage falls apart, as well, and their infamous struggle for power begins.
The Devil's Brood will be the final book in this trilogy. The title of the novel references Henry and Eleanor's children, whose treachery and rebellion with their father and each other almost destroys the Plantagenet House. This book is slated for release on October 7 (you can pre-order it on Amazon, of course) and for those of us who are Penman fans, it is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the year!
When Christ and His Saints Slept, by Sharon Kay Penman
Published by Ballantine books, 1996 (pbk)
Time and Chance, by Sharon Kay Penman
Published by Ballantine Books, 2003 (pbk)
The Devil's Brood, by Sharon Kay Penman
Published by Putnam Adult, 2008 (hc)