Oh dear readers, I am so excited to share this book with you! I first read this about four years ago, and then devoured the rest of the series (there are two more after this book in the Welsh Trilogy). But what really sold me on this book is the fact that it captivates you from the beginning, and whether male or female, you are going to not want the book to end! But I could go on all day about how awesome this book is, so lets jump in!
Eleanor of Aquitaine was a force to be reckoned all on her own. However, the children that she and her husband, King Henry of England raised were another breed all together. Many times you will hear the Plantagenet line called the “Devil’s Brood” and it fits this family! The historic tempers, dynastic fighting, and sheer manipulation that they employed makes you wonder how they ever managed to survive as long as they did! Losing several children before their time, the throne was taken (by show of force and by breaking the spirit of King Henry), by Richard, who would come to be known as the Lionhearted. But his younger brother John has not given up hope that he will one day wear the crown of England himself. Both Richard and John have gone to the French king seeking support and help, much to the dismay of their mother. But John has taken it a step further. Once his brother is crowned, and off on his crusade, he begins to scheme even more to take the crown on England for his own, and it looks like it might be possible, when word comes that Richard has been captured and held for ransom. When his young daughter Joanna is brought to him after her mother’s death, he forms a bond with her that has not been formed with some of his other children, other than his son Richard. Joanna stays close, and has no images of grandeur for her future. She feels lucky enough to have her father’s affection, especially after the turbulent couple of years she spent with her mother. Learning more about her family, she feels lucky to have been accepted as she was. Years go by fraught with turmoil, but happy times as well. When her father announces that he has arranged a marriage for her with the Welsh prince Llewellyn, she is devastated, but wanting to please her father she agrees to the match.
Llewellyn has been brought to England by his mother when she marries into their nobility. While he is happy that his mother is happy, he misses being back in Wales. As he sets off for a ride through the countryside, he comes across a young boy down by the river. They spend the afternoon together, and when Stephens brother comes looking for him. Llewellyn is beaten by the brother and a few of his friends. Finding out that he is not just a nobody, but noble born, the boys apologize, but after words are exchanged, and Walter again beats on Llewellyn. But one thing that Walter has not counted on is that the Welsh never forget. They will one day return the favor. As the friendship between Stephen and Llewellyn remains, it will be one that will fair them both well in the future. After returning to Wales when his uncle is murdered, a decision is made, and one that will not lightly be taken by anyone. Llewellyn refuses to return to England, and the future that his step-father has hoped for, but will remain in Wales and pursue his right to rule. Another of his uncles has agreed to back him, as well as some of the other lords. This will not be an easy fight, but for a boy of fourteen, it is a stand that seems doomed. But against all odds, he succeeds, and so will begin the career of one of the most powerful Welsh princes yet…
This week we are reading Prologue through the top of page 181
- The rivalry between Richard, John and King Henry is one that almost defies how sons should treat their father. Were you surprised at the demands that Richard made of his father?
- John seems to be the one son that no one really trusts, even his own mother. But he always manages to get back into their good graces. Do you think this bodes well for his future?
- Llewellyn is poised for greatness, but at such a young age it seems impossible that he will ever get there. What do you think his determination says of his character?