Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The Sixth Surrender

(Published by PLUME, an imprint of the Penguin Group)

Siege, storm, surprise, suborning ... they say there are five means of gaining access to a well-guarded citadel. There is a sixth one ... surrender.

I always enjoy a well-research historical novel. The back room maneuvering, the person who isn't who he seems to be, the intrigue, the travel back in time, I love all of it.

This novel begins in the final days of one of the most wonderful female characters in British history, Alienor of Aquitaine, the queen duchess and mother of kings, Richard, the Lion Heart and John Plantagenet.

The queen duchess launches a deadly dynastic chess game to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for her last surviving son, John. Caught in the middle is Sister Eustace, Alienor's young scribe, who must decide between her beloved home and an unthinkable marriage to a ruthless, handsome mercenary, Guerin de Lasalle.

Sister Eustace, born Lady Juliana, the last of the de Charnais line, is educated, and humble. There is a singular purpose that drives her, to possess her rightful home, the viscounty of Tillieres. Juliana is extremely innocent and prays for a man to marry who will be honorable, kind and literate. Instead, she is tricked by Alienor into marrying the dashing, handsome, worldly though landless mercenary Guerin de Lasalle. The couple enter into the marriage with one common goal, to end the marriage as soon as possible!

The novel is fascinating as it unfolds the story before the reader. The historical accuracy of the novel makes it hard to tell fact from fiction so deftly does the writer weave together the tale. There are villains and heros, but sometimes, depending on which side you are on, it's difficult to tell the difference.

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