Mar 23, 2015

The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #2) by Patricia Bracewell


Emma of Normandy's story continues...

The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #2) by Patricia Bracewell
Published by Viking, February 5, 2015
Hardcover 448 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:

Read my review of the first book in the trilogy, Shadow on the Crown

Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure

Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.

As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.
Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.

I waited two years for this novel to come out and it was very much worth the wait. In the previous book of Emma's younger days as a Norman bride to the English King Æthelred we were introduced to a volatile era in England's history as it struggled to withstand numerous Viking attacks. While Shadow on the Crown was fast paced and exciting, The Price of Blood delves more into the personal conflicts of the marriage of Emma and Æthelred and more about the political factions that affected the country.

Characters reappear, such as Lady Elgiva, as she makes up much of this book's story when she is able to hide from the king and his newest henchman Eadric, stirring up trouble from afar unbeknownst to the king. Eadric himself is not making many friends as he is a new favorite of the king's, offering him unwise counsel and using harsh tactics to get his way. The princes have little say in their father's court and Æthelred is described as being a paranoid and nervous king. Emma tries her best to survive among the many threats to her safety and that of her son, and is portrayed as a strong and capable Queen even when her king gives her little space in the court.

I can only hope for the final installment in the trilogy to bring us both a climax and a resolution to the saga of Emma's life and the events of her time, as The Price of Blood has set this reader on the edge of her seat waiting for things to blow up in the royal family. What the author does by filling in the blanks of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles is nothing short of amazing as she brings to life an otherwise forgotten time period; something I am especially grateful for as the historical fiction genre seems to have become bloated with novels of Tudors and Plantagenets. The writing of Patricia Bracewell may well possibly be compared to some of my other favorite story tellers such as Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Penman....if the final installment pulls it off as a marvelous conclusion to the trilogy. Sadly I will have to wait and see another long few years.