Review : The Queen’s Pawn
The Queen’s Pawn by Christy English
Pages : 373
Genre : Historical Fiction
Stand Alone (Kind of)
My Rating :
What it’s about :
When princess Alais of France arrives in England to marry Richard the Lionhearted, she has no idea she is about to meet two people that will change her life forever : Richard’s father, king Henry II, and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. She immediately forms a friendship with the queen, but her relationship with the king is one she hadn’t expected. Making her his mistress, the king forces Alais to risk her future marriage to his son and her friendship with his wife. In a battle that mixes love and politics, Alais has to take her life into her own hands, no matter the cost.
First and foremost, I have to present my most sincere apologies, as this review is long overdue. As mentioned in my Best of 2010 post, I wrote this review a long while ago, then scheduled it for May… 2011. It wasn’t the only review I scheduled for 2011 by mistake, but it’s the only one for which I had received a copy from the author, which makes me feel really, really bad. I’m usually good at keeping on schedules, and I’ll double the effort to make sure it never, ever happens again. Also, to make up for my own idiocy, I took the time to partly re-write the review.
We now get back to our regular program!
So, I really liked The Queen’s Pawn. First, because I find Eleanor of Aquitaine one of the most fascinating historical character. My interests in historical fiction usually run towards ancient history or European 18th and 19th century, but Eleanor remains a favorite of mine, and I have read many novels with her as a main character. It was quite refreshing to have her take a seat back from the action, to see the world around her rather than the world from her standpoint.
The chapters alternate between Alais and Eleanor, which was done with enough subtlety. The voices aren’t different enough that, if you pick the book after a while you’ll identify the narrator in a few words; but, the narration differs enough between the two that you can perceive different attitudes and personalities. The Queen’s Pawn isn’t an action novel, or a romance; it’s an exploration of the characters through a quiet, poetic narration. Some battles for power don’t need guns and arrows; this book certainly proves that, as Eleanor and Alais’ battles are quiet ones, made in little gestures, lies and secretive plans.
I was so taken by Alais and Eleanor’s story that its slow-pace didn’t translate in a slow reading : I devoured the book quickly and enjoyed the writing enough that I would have read even more. Which brings me to point out that Christy English has a new book coming out on April 5th : To Be Queen : A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. This will certainly be a formidable companion to The Queen’s Pawn, one I can’t wait to read!