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Devil's Brood (2008)

by Sharon Kay Penman(Favorite Author)
4.34 of 5 Votes: 5
0399155260 (ISBN13: 9780399155260)
Putnam Adult
Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine
review 1: I came across this author through her medieval mysteries which led me to her historical novels – all of which I’ve enjoyed. With exhaustive research Penman has a knack for vividly bringing these distant past times and historical figures to life. All this without miring down the reader in excessive detail, her novels provide a front row seat to royal traditions, banquets, marriages, power-plays and battles; the characters very human and well developed. And though the books are lengthy in pages they’re still very engaging reads.Penman’s latest series is on the life and times of King Henry II, (1133-1189), his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine – both larger than life even in their own time - and their “brood”, including Hal and Richard the Lionheart. The first book, Wh... moreen Christ and His Saints Slept, chronicled Henry’s childhood and his mother’s, Maude, fight to regain the British throne for her son. Ultimately successful, Henry becomes king and marries Eleanor. In Time And Chance, Henry battles the Catholic Church – specifically in the person of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury – with a not so good ending for Becket. Not an idle king, he and Eleanor bring eight children into the world.Devil’s Brood opens just after Becket’s demise, with Henry and Eleanor estranged, and their boys becoming men. Henry quickly patches things up with Church – a seemingly impossible task – yet he can’t get things right his own royal household. Eleanor, miffed with Henry taking a very young mistress, continues on a slow boil, firmly believing that her husband and king is slighting her at every opportunity when it comes to the respect, power and lands she feels she deserves. Hal, just coming of age, feels shortchanged because Henry won’t hand over the royal reins. And Richard, the apple of his mother’s eye, soon makes this a familial troika against the King; Henry perceives there is a “problem” in his inner sanctum, yet is clueless to solve it.Eleanor comes across as shrewish, always dissatisfied with her husband’s actions, accumulating slights like a squirrel does acorns. (Interestingly, she comes across as very similar to Henry’s mother in the first book, possibly intentional, but also much like Becket in the second, which may not be.) Prince Hal, attempting to show he’s all grown up, proves by his actions just the opposite. And Richard eventually “falls into line” with his mother and brother, teamed against his father.If this sounds like a soap opera, it is, and a slow motion one at that. The magic of the previous Penman novels doesn’t work here. For this reader, the resentments and the plotting became repetitive making the inevitable conclusion anti-climactic. (This may have been part of my problem with this book; I was somewhat familiar with this story.)At 700+ pages, it’s difficult to recommend this novel, even if you are a Penman fan as I am. As a further note, this was originally planned to be a trilogy, which has now grown to one more book and possibly two. Unfortunately after reading Devil’s Brood it will take some convincing for me to continue down the road of this saga.
review 2: The final chapter Sharon Kay Penman's Angevin trilogy starts when the Angevin Empire is at its height, but darkness looms over it because of the death of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, now declared a martyr. King Henry II makes keeps trying to control everything in his world (his power, his sons, his wife...), but the situation keeps escaping his grasp. His lack of understanding of his sons will lead to serious strife between them and a rebellion from his "Devil's Brood". Eleanor will side with her sons and as a result find herself imprisoned for 16 years!It's a sad end to a powerful man's life, and Sharon does such a good job making all the characters feel real, that sometimes you just want to smack them all in the head to make them listen to reason! :p less
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I loved it but I think to get full enjoyment you should read the two preceeding books.
I liked this novel, but it would have been better at half the length. Just too long.
Brilliant! Long, but a wonderful read!
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