Book Review: Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman


I was first introduced to the writing of Sharon Kay Penman when THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR hit bookshops years ago. From that time I was hooked and eagerly awaited new releases from this author.

There has been a lot written about Richard I and many films made about him and the times in which he lived, so most of us are familiar with the legend of Richard the Lionheart. This novel, however,  takes us behind the scenes and delves into the political intrigue and discord between the many factions who made up the Third Crusade; the rivalry between Richard I and Philippe, the French King ... and there is treachery afoot within his own family (no surprises there)  - from his younger brother, John.

I really enjoyed the first part of the novel, but once the action got to the Holy Land, my interest waned. The battle scenes were vivid and well done; though I do admit to skimming over a few pages (apologies to Sharon Kay Penman) to get to more interesting passages. 

Richard I will always be known as a great medieval warrior, but it is the other facets of his character, revealed by Sharon Kay Penman's research, that bring this man to life. We meet a man with a sense of humour, a temper, who is committed to his cause and also willing to compromise if needed and, above all else, the intelligence to see that a truce must be negotiated with Saladin to avoid unnecessary bloodshed on both sides.

Even though  I found LIONHEART hard to read at times, I look forward to reading the sequel,  A KING'S RANSOM.

THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR still remains my favourite of Sharon Kay Penman's novels - my heart belongs to another Richard.

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