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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical fiction
Trade paperback, 656 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 90/100

From Goodreads:

Married to a king incompetent both on the throne and in bed, Emma does not love her husband. But she does love England. Even as her husband fails, Emma vows to protect her people-no matter what. For five decades, through love and loss, prosperity and exile, Emma fights for England, becoming the only woman to have been anointed, crowned, and reigning queen to two different kings, the mother of two more, and the great aunt of William the Conqueror.

3 Reasons Review:

1.) Reasons you chose this book

I read Book 2 of Hollick's Arthurian trilogy Pendragon's Banner, and thoroughly enjoyed.  Therefore, when another of her works was offered for review, I jumped at the chance.  I am still going to read her Golden Age of Piracy based books though.  Didn't forget about those :)

2.) Reasons you liked or disliked this book

*Although this book is about Emma, it is also about the major players of England's history during this time.  Although these characters are required to tell Emma's story, the manner in which their parts/actions were written into the overall story was insightful and entertaining.  I felt it brought me fully into the story and those drafty "castles".

*Women of this time came from hearty stock.  Emma's delicate beginnings do not bode well, but as you witness her transformation into the Queen of her English people, it is truly amazing.  Emma becomes strong and formidable, and I wonder if Eleanor of Aquitaine didn't model herself after Emma.  One of my favorite scenes of Emma was when she showed her resolve as Swein Forkbeard marched by Winchester, Emma's personal holding.  Emma didn't have to say a word but she did anyway.  Emma knew what her people needed to see from their sovereign, even if her husband the King did not. 

*Which brings us to King Athelred, who is involved way too much in this story, but it is historically based after all.  I don't think I have ever read about such an ineffective leader, ever.  How Athelred managed to stay in power at all is beyond me.  How England survived Athelred's reign would probably be a better statement.

*Death was sudden and sever during this time.  Several characters died in this story and I would say I was sad to see that all except a few pass on.  Some deaths, such as those which take place early in the book (don't want to give things away) made me feel really bad.  I know they are fictional characters but I liked them and didn't want to see them go.  I should have known they were goners the minute they were introduced because despite the terrible times, they were very honest and nice.
*Hollick brings history to life.  Her attention to details and accuracy are impeccable.  Hollick immerses her readers into the story and I love how she brought this little know person, Emma, to life for me.  Actually I knew nothing of any of these characters before I read this book.  So I enjoyed learning about all of them. 

*I do have one reason I disliked the book, and it was due to it's size.  At 656 pages it's a chunkster, and a bit unwieldy to hold and read.  However, I don't believe you could have edited this story down without losing some of the goodness.  Maybe I'm being knit picky, but I'm honest.

*Oh I also love the realistic picture of the woman on the cover.  A Queen with curves, thank you! 

3.) Reasons you are recommending this book

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction.  Have you ever heard of Queen Emma before now?  Didn't think so, so get yourself a copy of this one.  I also recommend this book for those of us who don't know much about early English history, like me.  When I read stories like this, they make me research more information about the actual events are people, and learning is always a good thing.

If you like more information about this book or the lovely author Helen Hollick, please visit her website

This book is currently on tour.  For other review and opinions, please stop by one of these lovely blogs:
The Forever Queen Schedule

















Culminating with a live book chat on Monday, November 22, from 7pm -9pm EST. at

Thanks to Danielle for sending me my ARC.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Historical Fiction

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