The Forever Queen by: Helen Hollick
The Long War by: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Bad Religion by: Ross Douthat
Other Books I’m Reading:
Don’t Kiss with your Mouth Full by: Henry P. Mahone
Anathem by: Neal Stephenson
I decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year. I was sad about it. Yet, it turned out to be a good thing. There were sick children, and car repairs, and last minute travel. Basically if rocks fell and everybody died I wouldn’t have been in the least bit surprised. While all that was going on, I thought I’d go on a many worlds kick to round out the Finity review.
That turned out to be not the best of ideas. I started The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. However, I didn’t finish. Dick’s actual life is always more interesting to me than his writing. I also started The Long War by Pratchett and Baxter. Got halfway through that before putting it down. There was some question in my mind about series, and maybe the last book was so bad because they were just setting up their universe. Nope. In fact, if you want a full review of The Long War just look at my April 15th 2013 review of The Long Earth and change out the titles in your head.
What could make this all better? Obviously. Vikings. The Forever Queen is about Emma of Normandy. Wife of English king Æthelred the Unready. Isn’t that a great name? He was unready too. Mostly, unready for the Vikings that were ravaging his lands. So his wife Emma has to step up and try to get something, anything done. Which is how she ends up married to the Danish invader, and new king, Cnut the Great.
I’ve got to give Helen Hollick her props. She is writing about an era with not a lot of reference material, and some extremely confusing names, and she’s doing it well. While the book does drag around the death of Æthelred, making the reader wish that Emma would just take care of business already. Still, mostly the plot moves along at an occasionally dry but steady clip.
There are some tragic scenes that are not depicted in overly gory detail. So far less gory than most Viking tales. There is a very upsetting scene of Emma getting beaten by Æthelred that may be difficult for some readers.
Hollick also explores the origins of King Harthancunt, Emma’s son by Cnut, Edward the Confessor one of Emma’s sons by Æthelred, and William the Conqueror who is Emma’s illegitimate great nephew. There are many royal children with very sad lives in this book. In fact the whole era after Cnut is sort of like the year of the five emperors in Roman History. No sooner in one guy on the throne than he is dead and someone else is sticking their face on the currency.
All in all, a solid read.
Favorite Scene: Cnut and Emma meet for the first time.
Favorite Quote: “Ælfgifu of Northampton was two months dead.” – Okay, it may not seem like much, but I had a party.
Enjoyability: Solid four stars.
Where to read this book: Anywhere.
Further reading: Really looking forward to the new Allison Weir, and the new Bernard Cornwell. Both coming out in the next six week. Can’t wait.