Oh dear readers! How I hope that you are enjoying this book as much as I am! There are two more books after this one, and although I read them several years ago, I am thinking I might have to go back and re-read them just to refresh my memory! There are so many things going on within the pages of our read, and I will do my best to outline a bit of what we have, but as you know, there is so much more within the pages that we just cannot always fit here!! This week has a little more heartbreak than our previous weeks. Hang on for the ride through the Welsh countryside!
Joanna has been trying to decide how best to serve two lords, both her husband and her father. But the divide is wearing her thin, and she knows that divided loyalties cannot always last. But now with the English King holding hostages, it seems to bind the Welsh prince where he wants him, at least for the time being. King John has never hurt a hostage, so the chances of him doing so are extremely slim. Llewelyn and Joanna make a visit to the Kings court, where they spend Easter. While there, Llewelyn meets with his son Gruffydd, and shares the frustrations that he has with the meager truce they hold. Gruffydd knows that his father will eventually violate the truce as will King John, and he does his best to be brave, but the thoughts of harm coming to him as a captive looms. When the explosion finally comes, there is a consequence that even Joanna cannot believe her father capable of. He orders the hanging of all the Welsh hostages, most of them just children, yet Gruffydd is spared. The full horror of what the English king has done haunts the Welsh, as many of the most powerful families gave up their sons as hostages to King John. Joanna seems to have the hardest time out of everyone reconciling herself to the terror that now lingers, and the distrust that many feel toward her. As King John’s daughter, many view her as a spy, there are those who know she is not, but his actions reflect upon her.
With the hanging of the children fresh in her mind, Joanna and her daughter leave to spend some time with her brother Richard. She needs some time away from Llewelyn and the doubts that are lingering in his mind about her. While visiting her brother, she learns the truth about Maude de Braose, and her son. She begins to suffer from nightmares brought on by the actions of her father. After leaving her brother, she heads to the abbey where she stayed before marrying Llewelyn. When Llewelyn shows up to take their daughter back home, Joanna accompanies them. There is nothing much left for her in England anymore. King John is waging a war on two fronts. His barons are in revolt, and the French prince Louis is sweeping through his lands claiming territory.
As the king suffers defeat after defeat, the French prince is adding more and more territory to his name. As time goes on, King John is becoming weaker and weaker. He continues to push forward at relentless speeds. As he rests in Lynn, he is given a gift from the citizens of the town, one hundred marks. It is a huge gift given the poor nature of the town. As they move out of Lynn, they are stuck in the marshes, and when the tide comes in, many men, horses, and carts are lost. The men and carts are the worst loss. Money and supplies have been swept away by the raging tides, and the pains that King John has been feeling beset him again. By the time they reach Swineshead Abbey, the king is running a raging fever, and continues to worsen. The Abbot tells his waiting lords the truth, he can attend only some of the needs of the king, but its to late for his recovery. The king is dying. His determination to reach Newark Castle cannot be ignored, so off they go. The time that is left to him is spent dictating letters and ensuring the loyalty to his young son.
Meanwhile Llewelyn and Gruffydd are headed into a war of wills, where only one will win, and the other will be left with nothing…
This week we are reading Pages 353-531
- Do you think Joanna remained faithful to her father longer than most might have??
- With Gruffydd held captive for four years in England, do you think there is anyway that he can be reconciled to his family again?
- Llewelyn has huge plans for Wales, and they do not seem to be abating any. Is there any chance that he can unite them all together?