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Plantagenet Books In Order

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Publication Order of Plantagenets Books

When Christ and His Saints Slept (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Time and Chance (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Devil's Brood (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lionheart (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
A King's Ransom (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Plantagenet’s Series
The Plantagenet’s is a historical fiction series by bestselling American author of mystery, literary, and fiction books Sharon Kay Penman. The series features ancient kings, their families, and their struggles for power and tells the story of ancient England and the disputes that characterize the change of power from one generation to the other. Even though most of the story is fiction, the author makes it believable by incorporating historical facts into her writing.
The series is set 12th century and spans into other centuries featuring several key people that were involved in the struggle for power in England. Sharon’s storytelling ability is evident from the pace of the story to the words used to describe various events.

When Christ and His Saints Slept
The first book in the series is centered on the struggle for the crown of England. The story starts from the 12th century, where Henry I and his 20 illegitimate children are introduced to the readers. In a funny twist of fate, Henry loses his only illegitimate heir in the white ship accidents where a part of the fleet sunk. This can only mean that upon his death, Henry’s successor may be a female, something that was strange in those times.
It is 1135 A.D, and King Henry of England has just died. As the church bells toll to mark his death, his barons ponder the fate of the kingdom. There is an unwelcome possibility of being ruled by a woman, but the barons will do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen. Now that her father has died, Maude, the Countess of Anjou, has a claim to the throne. Things change when her cousin seizes the throne and an 18-year long battle that leaves England bleeding ensues. During the battle period, both Maude and Steven control the throne.

Even though two parties now control the throne, the rulers are profoundly flawed, and this prevents them from offering adequate leadership for the kingdom. Maude is not the barons’ choice, and she knows all this too well. While she views Steven as a weak opponent that she can quickly throw out of power, she completely underestimates Steven’s wife. Eventually, this, among other mistakes, cost her significant number of territories. Steven, on the other hand, is kind and generous. On the downside, the barons see this as a weakness and take advantage of his generosity. Steven is also stubborn, and this almost costs his life when he refuses to retreat in the battle despite his vassals’ urging. Maude can outsmart him a few times, and Steven also wins a good number of battles along the way.

As the battle intensifies, we see Maude’s army being confined in Oxford. Here, things get so tough for Maude, and she is forced to flee by wearing a white cloak and sneaking past Steven’s army during a snow storm. In the latter days of the struggle, Maude loses her close ally Robert and is forced to flee to Normandy. While Steven is in charge of the kingdom for a while, his life is not as easy. In a devastating twist, Steven’s wife Mathilda dies. The king also has a rough time managing the church as well as his unruly vassals. As Steven is facing all these challenges, Maude’s son Henry is being groomed for kingship. Eventually, Henry II takes the throne, and the good thing is that all this is done with little if any, bloodshed.

This is a great read that borrows a lot from history. While the over 700 pages of this book may seem daunting, you will realize that this is a fast read. Every single detail will keep you captivated from the first page all to the end.

Time and Chance
Time and Chance is the second book in this series. The captivating story of Henry the II ascent to power as outlined in the When Christ and His Saints Slept book continues in this book. The book starts with details on Henry II’s immortal marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Ambition and a deep passion bind the couple, and there is no doubt that the two would leave a solid legacy. However, lust divides the power couple towards the end. Also, friendship and faith bring bloodshed to the family.

For Henry II, trouble starts when Thomas Becket, a close friend to Henry, is promoted to become the Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry is also determined to conquer wales. It does not help that in the mainland, things are not smooth as well. The French Vassals want to break away, and Henry is doing everything to bring his house to order. These activities take a lot of Henry’s time, and he spends little if any time with his family. During this time, Eleanor is having one child after another. She feels Henry’s absence, and over time, she starts to resent him for not following her guidance on various issues.
The book also touches a lot on the relationship between Henry and Thomas. The two started as great friends, but things take an exciting twist along the way. The differences between the two friends turned foes result in a showdown that shakes Henry’s rule and leads to a lot of hatred among the royals. Historically, some of the meetings highlighted here actually happened. The author is able to cleverly marry facts and fiction and take the readers down memory lane to ancient times.

Read this book for a vivid account of Henry II rule, his deteriorating marriage, and the challenges he is forced to deal with in his tenure. You will also get to meet a few characters who will set the pace for the next book. In the end, a betrayal comes to play, and a murder- among the royals seems likes the only way out. This story is packed with seductions, scandals, and enough scheming to keep you engaged throughout the book. Time and Chance is a page-turner that highlights historical events and leaders who left quite a mark in history.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Plantagenet

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