My Richard III Tour and The Sunne in Splendour

As many of you know, I am leading a tour to England this September, following in the Footsteps of Richard III, visiting all of the places that were important to Richard during his lifetime and brief reign.  The tour sold out in two days, showing that Richard has rock star appeal even after 500 years!  Some of my British readers had indicated they’d love to meet me during the course of the tour.  I discussed this with Academic Travel and they explained they normally do not permit non-tour members to take part in the scheduled events.   But they understood that these were unusual circumstances and they knew I did not want to disappoint my readers.  So I was very pleased when they came up with this option.  They have scheduled a special event in York that will be open to the public.  It will take place on the evening of September 10th at Mansion House in York.  But because seating is limited, anyone wanting to attend must purchase a ticket in advance and sooner rather than later would probably be better.   Here is the information below, as well as links to the Mansion House and Barley Hall, where the reception afterward will be held.  My publisher has assured me that we will have copies of the new hardcover edition of The Sunne in Splendour available for purchase and of course I’d be delighted to sign them.  (Writers love doing that!) 
Tuesday September 10th, Mansion House, York at 6:30 pm.
Ticket price £25
Join Sharon Kay Penman for a short preview reading of A King’s Ransom, to be published in 2014.
A buffet reception with live music inspired by the Middle Ages follows at Barley Hall.
Sharon will also be available for book signing.
Pre-booking is essential as capacity is strictly limited. For more information or to make a booking please call +44 01904 615505 or at
 Our Eleanor tour was a magical experience and many friendships were formed, which I suspect does not usually occur on tours.   If this one goes as well, we will give serious consideration to another Richard III tour next year, perhaps in time to visit his new tomb.  We are still planning another Eleanor tour, but we continue to be stymied by the renovations at the Abbaye Royale hotel on the grounds of Fontevrault Abbey, and so we would not be able to schedule the Eleanor tour until 2015.    
 This has been such a good year for Richard—and therefore, for Sunne.  I am very happy to report that Sunne is back on’s Kindle historical fiction bestseller list.  I was puzzled at first by the sudden bump in sales, but then I realized I probably have Philippa Gregory to thank for that!  It makes sense that viewers of her television series being shown in the UK this summer might be motivated to find out more about the Wars of the Roses.  
 I will try again to get my blog to allow me to insert the new Sunne book jacket, which I love.  (This has been an on-going problem, which will not be surprising to any of my friends and readers who’ve been following my computer woes on Facebook. Several of them even suggested that I have my very own “dead zone” hovering over me at all times.)    But in case it balks again, I am including the link for those who have not seen the new cover yet.
This rebirth of Sunne gave me a rare opportunity.  I was able to rewrite some of the dialogue from the original edition of Sunne thirty years ago—and yes that makes me feel very old.   I have also written a new Author’s Note to reflect the amazing discovery of Richard’s lost grave.  Unfortunately, space constraints compelled us to cut some of the new AN for the hardcover edition.  But the AN will appear in its entirety in the new Kindle edition of Sunne, which will be released at the same time as the hardcover, September 12th.  And I will post it on my website, too, once the book is published.   Many of my American readers have expressed their disappointment at missing out, but they can still buy the new hardcover edition; the wonderful folks at Book Depository will ship worldwide for free.     They cannot buy the new Kindle e-book, of course, thanks to the restrictions that drive writers and readers to drink.   But one of my American publishers, St Martin’s Press, will be bringing out a new Kindle e-book edition of Sunne that will mirror the British one, even as to the British spelling.  American spelling really jars a minority of my British readers, but I’ve never had any American readers complain about British spelling.  I rather fancy it myself, and managed to get the British spelling of grey approved for all of my books because Elizabeth Woodville’s first husband was named Grey.
 Anyway, here is the Amazon link. And here is the Book Depository link.  Apparently they are not taking pre-orders, but they do have a Notify Me feature to alert readers when it becomes available for sale.  Ignore the icon saying the paperback edition will also be published on September 12th.  That is not so; it will be published in the UK next spring. 
 These are exciting times to be a Ricardian!
July 30, 2014

64 Responses to “My Richard III Tour and The Sunne in Splendour”

  1. Paula Mildenhall Says:

    I wonder if the pre-orders for the new edition of Sunne overwhelmed The Book Depository? I have my copy pre-ordered and paid for! Yay!

  2. skpenman Says:

    That would be lovely, Paula! But what I am really looking forward to is the day that I can make a book tour Down Under.

  3. Lisa Maria C Says:

    From the blog: But one of my American publishers, St Martin’s Press, will be bringing out a new Kindle e-book edition of Sunne that will mirror the British one, even as to the British spelling.

    Do you think they’ll soon do an epub version? I feel like a traitor to the cause of “real” books, but I got a Nook recently and do love that no matter how many times I might read a novel, it doesn’t get smudged, torn, creased, or just disintegrate as did my original trade paperback copy of Sunne. I realize I may have gotten the “betamax” version of ereaders and have no cause to complain if it’s only in Kindle but I’m hoping. ..

  4. My Richard III Tour and The Sunne in Splendour | Eclectic Books Says:

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  5. skpenman Says:

    Lisa, I am sure my books are available as Nooks, too, and I also think Sony Reader. Would that make them “epub” books? I am not very familiar with that term. What I love about e-books is the ability to ease my aging eyes with an increased font size!

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    August 1st was a busy and bloody day in the MA. In 1192, Richard I fought and won the first battle of Jaffa, which I dramatized in Lionheart. It was a remarkable victory which did much to burnish the legend of the Lionheart. It seems to have been a lucky day for the Angevins, for ten years later, his brother would have his one great military triumph.
    On August 1st, 1202, John swooped down upon his nephew Arthur and the leading Breton barons as they lay siege to Eleanor in Mirebeau Castle. It was a brilliant accomplishment. Sadly, he tarnished his triumph and his reputation by treating the prisoners very badly, which stirred up much resentment against him. It is generally believed that he was responsible for Arthur’s murder the following year; it was certainly the view of his contemporaries and he never fully recovered from that.
    August 1st in 1265 was surely the worst day of Simon de Montfort jr’s life. Young Simon (renamed Bran in my novels to save me from ever having to write: Simon said to Simon) and his men were taking their ease at Kenilworth Castle, bathing in the lake and entertaining themselves with the prostitutes that inevitably flocked to a medieval army. His cousin Edward was warned of this by a female spy, and staged an unusual night march to take Bran by surprise. Edward then collected Bran’s banners and headed for Evesham. Simon was expecting Bran’s arrival and when he first saw the banners in the distance, he assumed it was his son. When he went up into the bell tower of Evesham’s abbey and realized that he was looking at his doom, he faced it unflinchingly, giving us one of history’s better exit lines: “We must commend our souls to God, for our bodies are theirs.” Meanwhile, back at Kenilworth, Bran collected what was left of his scattered army and raced for Evesham. He arrived too late; the battle was over. One chronicler would comment, “Such was the murder of Evesham, for battle it was none.” But Bran got there just in time to see his father’s head on a pike. Once again reality trumps fiction, for what writer would dare to make something like that up?

  6. Koby Says:

    Well, Sharon has already mentioned Mirebeau and Jaffa, which I planned to do, and added to it Kenilworth, which I was not aware of. I suppose this leaves me with two events: The death of Louis VI ‘Le Gros’ of France, making his son Louis VII, and his recently married wife Queen Eleanor of France. Also, the death of Edmund of Langley, Duke of York. He was one of the sons of Edward III, and the father of the House of York, being Richard Duke of York’s grandfather.

  7. Lisa Maria C Says:

    Yes, epub is one of the standard ebook formats that Nook and many ereaders (but not Kindle I believe) use. I do have a Kindle app, but I prefer epub because it shows up in the Nook library, while the Kindles can only be read within the app. And yes, there is a Nook version ofSunne in Splendour that can be bought on now, but I suspect this isn’t the new and improved revised version (with no doubt, the right squirrel!)

    And yeah, being able to increase the Font to be easier on the eyes is one of the little joys of ebooks. I’m becoming a convert.

  8. skpenman Says:

    Yes, you suspect right, Lisa! The new e-book with my changes and the new Author’s Note won’t be available in the US until after September when it comes out in the UK; St Martins is going to use the files of my British publisher. The other thing I like about e-books is the instant gratification; one click and I can start to read a new book.

  9. Koby Says:

    And today, the Battle of Cannae took place, where Hannibal once again decisively defeated the Romans. In more pertinent matters, William II Rufus died today while hunting in the New Forest, and Raymond VI of Toulouse died today. He married Joanna Plantagenet, and though disinherited by the Albigensian Crusade, by the time of his death he and his son by Joanna managed to retake most of Toulouse. If you live in Minnesota, you can see him represented as one of four figures on the ceiling of the Minnesota Supreme Court, representing the ‘The Adjustment of Conflicting Interests’.

  10. skpenman Says:

    On August 2, 1100, William Rufus was struck by an arrow during a hunting party in the New Forest and died on the spot. His body was left there in the forest, although it would eventually be retrieved for what seems to have been a modest burial. His younger brother Henry raced for Winchester to claim the royal treasure and the crown. Was it an accident? Or murder? No way to tell at this point in time. Hunting accidents were certainly common in the MA, but over the centuries, suspicions of murder did occur to people. Lacking proof, I suppose we have to give Henry the benefit of the doubt. From what we know of the man, though, he was quite capable of acting to remove an inconvenient barrier between him and the throne, even if he happened to be related to said barrier. Henry did not have a warm and cuddly side.
    And on August 2, 1222, died a man who would be even more maligned than Richard III, Raimond de St Gilles, the sixth Count of Toulouse. Raimond had his flaws, but he did not deserve the horrors that descended upon him and the people of the South during the Albigensian Crusade, one of the darker chapters in the history of the medieval Church. Because it was necessary to justify this blatant power—grab, he was painted by chroniclers in the most lurid of hues, accused of being a dissolute womanizer, a man without honor or scruples, a heretic damned to eternal hellfire. But his real sin was one we’d see as a virtue today. He was that rarity in the MA, a ruler who was genuinely tolerant, unwilling to persecute his subjects because of their religious beliefs, and he would pay a high price for that tolerance.
    He died an excommunicate even though he’d sought repeatedly to gain absolution. He was never a heretic, you see, never a Cathar, and stayed faithful to the Church that treated him so shamefully. When he suffered a stroke on that hot August day in 1222, he was standing outside a church in Toulouse, listening as the sympathetic priests raised their voices so he could hear the Mass. And he asked to become one of the Knights Hospitaller. Had he been a Cathar as his enemies claimed, he’d have asked for the consolamentum, the Cathar rite that was given to their dying. (Charles II was received into the Catholic Church—very unpopular in 17th century England–although it is not certain if he was still lucid by then.) Instead, Raimond begged for the Last Rites of the Roman Church and was denied. The Hospitallers were more merciful. They did admit him into their Order. But he was still not allowed to be buried in consecrated ground and his coffin remained unburied in the commandery of the Hospitallers in Toulouse as his son tried desperately to secure a Christian burial for him. They used his desperation to force him into making yet more concessions, but their promises were never kept.
    When Geoffrey de Mandeville, rebel and outlaw and scourge of God, died during Stephen’s reign, he, too, was an excommunicate and was denied Christian burial. But his sons petitioned the Church on his behalf, and the ban was lifted even though he’d not died in a state of grace, showed no contrition whatsoever. So this man, of whom it was said the grass withered wherever he’d walked, a man who’d spilled enough innocent blood to swim in, was buried in hallowed ground, whereas Raimond de St Gilles’ body would be eaten by rats.
    Today, the Albigensian Crusade is a source of tourist revenue to the French government. Tourists flock to “Cathar Country” to see the haunting ruins of their castles, to hear the stories of a land that fell under the shadow of the Inquisition. We recoil from the statement that the papal legate is alleged to have said when the crusaders sacked the town of Beziers after they refused to surrender their Cathar neighbors (200 in a population of about 9,000). When he was asked how the soldiers could tell Cathars from Catholics, his response was; “Kill them all. God will know His own.” Some historians now doubt that he said it. I do not; in his letter to the Pope, he could hardly contain his joy at the deaths of the thousands of men, women, and children of Beziers. There are few in our time who’d sympathize with the Albigensian crusaders, so sure they were doing God’s blessed, bloody work. But who remembers Raimond de St Gilles?

  11. skpenman Says:

    Compared to yesterday, August 3rd was a quiet day, historically speaking. Richard I landed in England in 1189 to claim the crown; he’d been able to take his time because Mama Eleanor was over there, declaring an amnesty for prisoners and doing all she could to pave the way for his coronation. When I have Richard joke in Devil’s Brood that on the seventh day, she rested, he was not far off; she was remarkably busy in the month between Henry’s death and Richard’s arrival, making a royal progress through the countryside, holding councils, issuing edicts about such mundane matters as currency and weights measures, and taking oaths of fealty to Richard. In her spare time, she founded a hospital for the poor in Surrey! We enjoy speculating about history’s What ifs. A sad one is What if Henry had been willing to share some of his power and make use of her formidable political skills as Richard would do?
    The travel agency sponsoring the Richard III Tour thinks it would be a nice idea if I did a reading from Sunne on one of the nights; the other readings will be from Ransom, of course, just as I gave the Eleanor tour members a preview of Lionheart. Usually in selecting a passage to read, writers have to be careful not to give away any important plot twists or spoil the suspense. Since I am reasonably sure that everyone on this tour will have read Sunne already, I don’t have to worry about that. But I am having trouble deciding what to read. So…..any suggestions from my wonderful readers? I’d be grateful for some feedback.

  12. Susan Says:


    Do you mean that after September 12 of this year, Amazon US will begin selling a new Kindle version of The Sunne in Splendor, containing your U.K. edits? I am planning to re-read Sunne and will wait to start until the new version comes out, if that’s the case.

    Do you have an exact date for the new U.S. Kindle version?


  13. skpenman Says:

    Yes, Susan, they have assured me that they are going to issue a new e-book that will incorporate all of the changes I’ve made as well as the new Author’s Note. They are using the British files so the spelling will be British, but I’ve never had a single American reader complain about that; it seems fitting since the book is set in medieval England. I do not know, though, exactly when it will be coming out. The British edition will be published on September 12th, so it would be sometime after that. I will post it as soon as I have a definite date.

  14. skpenman Says:

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    Today is the date of two very significant medieval battles, with two very different outcomes. On August 4th, 1192, the second battle of Jaffa was fought. Four days earlier, Richard I had forced his way onto the beach at Jaffa, carrying a sword in one hand, a crossbow in the other. He and his men managed to get inside the city and recaptured it from the Saracens, his unlikely success due in part to the fact that the Saracens were occupied in looting the town. The walls had been seriously damaged in the assault, though, so Richard and his men encamped outside the city. When Saladin learned of this, he saw a golden opportunity, for if he could kill or capture the English king, his war would be won. But a Genoese archer had risen early to answer nature’s call and saw the glint of the rising sun on the shields of the approaching Saracen army; sometimes history can be affected by something so simple as a full bladder. Richard quickly mobilized an inspired defense, having his spearmen anchor the shafts of their weapons into the ground, with crossbowmen standing behind them, sheltered by their shields, all with their weapons spanned so that once a man shot, he’d be passed another crossbow, allowing the fire to be continuous.
    * * *
    Lionheart, page 546
    Their shields and spears firmly rooted in the dry Outremer dirt, their backs protected by the sand cliffs leading down to the sea, the men turned toward their king, astride a restive black stallion. With all eyes upon him, Richard tore his own gaze from the dust clouds being kicked up to the east; time was running out. Raising his hand for quiet, he began to speak. “I know you are fearful. But we are not defeated. If we hold fast, we can prevail over our foes. Yet to do that, every man must do his part. If even one of you gives in to your fears and tries to flee, you doom us all. Rather than let that happen, I will personally kill anyone who seeks to run.”
    He paused to let his warning sink in. “We are all going to die, but in God’s time, not Sasladin’s. For most people, their deaths have no meaning. If we die this day, we die for the Lord Christ and the Holy Sepulchre. Can there be a greater glory than that?” Again, he paused, his gaze moving intently from man to man. “When we took the cross, we pledged our lives. In return, we were promised remission of our earthly transgressions. It does not matter how dark your sins are—and I’d wager some of them are very dark indeed.” As he’d hoped, that bit of gallows humor elicited some tight smiles. “So our salvation is assured. But our defeat is not. If we hold firm, they will not be able to penetrate our defenses. You are brave men and I am proud to fight alongside you. I know you can do this. You need only have faith—in God, in your own courage, and in me.”
    * * *
    Despite being greatly outnumbered, Richard’s men did hold firm and time and time again the Saracen charges failed, the men veering off at the last moment rather than impaling their horses on that barbed wall of spears. After six hours, they were understandably exhausted and discouraged and it was then that Richard took the offensive, he and his small band of knights charging into the thick of the enemy army. Against all odds, they prevailed. It was his twin victories at Jaffa that did so much to burnish the legend of the Lionheart.
    The second battle took place on August 4, 1265, when Simon de Montfort and his men were trapped at Evesham by Prince Edward, who’d ambushed Simon’s son Bran just four days earlier. I did a post about that on August 1st.
    * * *
    Falls the Shadow, page 516-517
    They crowded into the churchyard just east of the bell tower, pressing in so they might hear Simon speak. A hush slowly fell as he reined in his stallion before them, looked out upon their upturned, ashen faces.
    “Scriptures say that man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. That you know right well. You know, too, that death comes to us all, to the king in his palace and the crofter in his hut. All a man can do is hope to face it with courage and a measure of grace. Most of us shall die this day, for we meet a foe twice our numbers, and there will be no quarter given. But we do not die in vain, that I can promise you.”
    Simon paused, drawing a steadying breath as lightning seared the sky above their heads. “You’ve every right to ask why it must be. I would that I had an answer for you. But the Ways of the Almighty are not for mortal men to fathom. The Holy Land is soaked with the blood of true believers, those who died for Christ before the walls of Jerusalem. Because they died, does that mean their faith was false? So, too, is our cause just, and it will triumph. The men of England will cherish their liberties all the more, knowing that we died for them.”
    * * *
    And die they did, even the squires. One chronicler would write, “Such was the murder of Evesham, for battle it was none.” As I said, two very different battles, but sharing two common threads. Their thinking was very medieval, and the events proved yet again that reality can trump fiction, at least when writing of the Plantagenets. I would never have dared to invent the scene in which Richard rode his stallion alone along the Saracen lines, offering a challenge to single combat that none of Saladin’s warriors would accept, and had the story been reported by crusader chroniclers, I’d still have dismissed it as too unlikely to be true. But it came from two Saracen chroniclers. As for Evesham, what writer would have dared to have a savage storm break out at the height of the battle? Or to have Simon’s son Bran reach Evesham too late to save his father or brothers, but just in time to see Simon’s head on a pike?
    I’ve been told by readers over the years that they found Simon de Montfort’s death at Evesham profoundly moving. I found the greatest challenge was not in writing of the battle, but of the aftermath—writing about the pain and shock and fear of his wife and daughter and surviving sons when they learned what had occurred on that hot August afternoon in 1265. Whenever men die in combat, hearts are broken and widows and orphans left to grieve. That aspect of war is tragically timeless.

  15. Gabriele Says:

    Chroniclers and historiographers sometimes had a liking for the dramatic, too. I suspect not all of it was fact. A few of the things in Tacitus’ account of the Roman wars in Germania are too good to be trustworthy (not to mention his invented speeches) but I steal some of them just because they are so good - like Arminius’ daring escape at Idistaviso. Steal from the best, right? :)

  16. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, fascinating post on Jaffa and Evesham. Great speech by Richard. It made my body cover in gooseflesh…

    On 5 August 1100, Henry the Young King and Richard’s maternal great-grandfather, Henry was crowned king in Westminster Abbey by Maurice bishop of London (a ceremony he underwent for a second time after Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury returned from Lyon), just three days after his elder brother, William II Rufus had been killed while hunting in New Forest. This is how Henry explained his haste to Anselm:
    ‘… enemies were intending to rise up against me and the people who are mine to govern, and therefore my barons and my people did not want to delay it any longer’.

  17. skpenman Says:

    Great post, Kasia.

    My Facebook post today, brief thanks to the Deadline Dragon.

    The Deadline Dragon is still hanging around the house, making a total pest of himself. But I dodged him long enough to post this Advice for the New Royal Baby, Game of Thrones style. Be sure to click onto the link at the end of #10.

  18. skpenman Says:

    Sometimes the news seems even more heartbreaking than usual—a young bride murdered on her honeymoon on that Venice Beach boardwalk, those two little boys killed by a python in Canada, the pregnant woman killed by a falling tree, the usual bombings and random shootings. Because of modern technology, we end up grieving for people around the globe, people we do not know and usually cannot help; all we can do is feel their pain. It can be overwhelming at times; turn on the television or the computer and suddenly you are right there at the scene of a horrific accident or killing, often as it actually unfolds. Little wonder that we need coping mechanisms. So today I am providing two. Read about what the Cleveland Browns did for this little boy with cancer and then watch these videos. I can virtually guarantee they will make you all feel better—however briefly.

  19. Koby Says:

    Really bust with some army-related stuff, so just dropping in to say that Heinrich der Lowe, Matilda of England’s husband and Otto IV’s father died today.

  20. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Good luck with the “army-related stuff,” Koby!

    On August 7, 1485, Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven in Wales. Think how history would have been changed if he’d slipped on the gangplank, fell into the harbor, and drowned. Obviously, no Bosworth Field. No Tudor dynasty. No break with the Catholic Church. No Dissolution of the monasteries. No Stuart dynasty? A very different England had the Plantangenets continued to reign. On the downside, no Sunne in Splendour. But on the plus side, we’d have been spared so many of those “epics” about the Tudors. So if I could time travel back to that August day, would I have seized my chance and pushed him off the gangplank? Would you?

  21. Joan Says:

    It’s been fun getting caught up on all the posts & comments, incl Anne Easter Smith’s new novel, which is now on my list.

    Just to clarify which Sunne I’ll be able to purchase from Canada, Sharon. I’m now using the Book Depository (love it), so I can order the new hardcover Sunne when it is available & this edition will have the new cover but a shortened AN? Is this correct? The new cover is gorgeous as it features my 2 fave colors of the moment.

    To think I will be in York September of 2014!! Quel domage!!!

  22. Gabriele Says:

    It’s amazing that the webmaster keeps comments with links for ransom but allows blatant spam to go through. I don’t want to buy black printer ribbon, thank you. ;)

  23. skpenman Says:

    Joan, yes, Book Depository will be selling the new hardcover Sunne, the one with the shortened AN. I plan to post it on my website when I get back from the UK, and I’d be happy to send you a copy. The deletions mainly dealt with information we’d discovered since Sunne was first published, for example, about Francis Lovell and Bess’s sister Cecily.

    Gabriele, the spam filter seems to have gone on strike lately. MY webmaster thinks that we need a newer version of Word Press and she is going to do that when she gets back from holiday. I hope that will also resolve the problem about adding photos to the text.

  24. skpenman Says:

    Very sad news—Elizabeth Peters has died. Like so many, I loved her books, especially her Amelia Peabody series. She was a very gifted writer and had a delightfully wicked sense of humor. (See the Murders of Richard III) What little I know about Egyptology I gleaned from her books. I think she’d have been a wonderful friend and there is a little less laughter, a little less light in the world tonight.

  25. skpenman Says:

    It looks as if I’ll be dragon-beset until the end of the month, whether I like it or not. But just because I can’t take time for pleasure reading, that does not mean you guys can’t. So I wanted to alert you all that C.W. Gortner has a new Tudor mystery out, The Tudor Conspiracy, the second in his series about our favorite Tudor, Elizabeth. This is great fun, so much so that I had to hide my Kindle; I’d downloaded it, thinking I could treat myself on the plane ride to England, then made the mistake of opening it. Bad move. Mary is now on the throne, Elizabeth is in a very precarious position, and before I knew it, I had read up to Chapter Six. That was when I had to hide the Kindle since I am so weak about resisting temptation.

  26. Joan Says:

    Thank you Sharon, I’ll look forward to the complete AN when you post it &/or send me a copy of it. That would be lovely.

    It seems that Elizabeth Peters enjoyed a fruitful & successful life. I didn’t know about her books & I keep thinking, how will I ever read all these great novels that I hear about through this blog. A speed-reading course perhaps?!? Though savoring the story is more my style.

    I think I should send my granddaughters to help you out with that dragon. They are soooo into dragons these days & could occupy the beast for awhile.

  27. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, like Joan, I didn’t know about Miss Peters books. Now they are on my TBR list.

    Joan, good to have you back :-) Whereas your granddaughters are soooo into dragons, my baby Helen is soooo into eating, sleeping and crying, and my elder two are soooo into admiring her :-) And I’m soooo into the state of utter exhaustion that Henry the Young King is going to suffer… For the time being I still have a few texts from Henry’s old website to re-write and re-post, but this will only suffice till September. Thank you for your lovely e-mail and comments on Henry blog- just in case I won’t find time to reply.

    I have learned that on 10 August 1241 Henry the Young King’s niece, Eleanor of Brittany died, having spent almost her entire adult life as a prisoner of state. Poor Geoffrey and Constance’s children. I feel so sorry for them.

  28. skpenman Says:

    Joan, if you read one Elizabeth Peters and enjoy it, you will have hit the literary mother lode, for she wrote so many of them! I would suggest reading the first of her Amelia Peabody novels, about a strong-willed young woman who has the misfortune to live in Victorian times where women are expected to be docile, demure, and obedient, none of which she is. It is technically a mystery with a great deal of humor thrown in, plus adventure and a great deal of knowledge about ancient Egypt seamlessly woven into the story line. If you like it, there are about 20 others in the series.
    Kasia, thank you for reminding me that Eleanor of Brittany died on this date. I am embarrassed to say it slipped my mind entirely, for her life was so sad that at least we ought to remember her.
    Today’s Facebook Note.

    This is interesting. I admit much of what I know about Alfred comes from Uthred, the hero of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series, and Uthred is not exactly an Alfred fan. But the guy had to be rather impressive to get a “The Great” tacked onto his name, the only English king to be so honored. Of course we know that Llywelyn ab Iorwerth was deservedly known as Llywelyn Fawr—the Great. He’d have made a wonderful King of England, although he’d probably have seen that as a demotion of sorts, plus exile!

  29. Joan Says:

    I will do exactly that, Sharon. And will order it now! This first book REALLY appeals to me on many levels. And it isn’t only the Victorian ladies who were expected to be docile nice little girls & am sure many today would agree with that! No wonder we have such admiration for the likes of Eleanor & Maude & the many women in the MA who fought for independence & stood by their convictions & the right to be “who they were”!

    Kasia, I’m glad you received my email & happy that we can talk about baby Helen on the blog now. Sharon & Koby, you must have been as delighted as I was. I came home to find an email with a picture of a beautiful little baby girl….what a wonderful surprise! Please take care of yourself Kasia….Henry would want that (if only partly because he knows you’ll come back to him with renewed vigor when you are able, heehee). I am so happy for you & your family.

    Re Bernard Cornwell, I’m halfway through Sword Song & do I love this man’s writing! It’s also inspired me to go back a bit further in time & get some of that history.

    Ah, Llywelyn Fawr! What a man! Here Be Dragons will always hold a very special place in my heart. Now I’ll take a peek at that site.

  30. Koby Says:

    Today, Mary of York, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s second daughter was born. She died young (14).

  31. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Koby!

    A little dragon humor on a summer Sunday afternoon. This comes compliments of my writer pal, Priscilla Royal, who also has to share her home with a Deadline Dragon. She insists that hers is a baby one, though, and she has to keep rescuing it from her cats. She is being a good sport, but dragons never make ideal roommates, no matter the size.

  32. Koby Says:

    Thanks you, Sharon. Today, two crusader battles: The Battle of Ascalon, where Godfrey of Bouillon defeated a Fatimid army 20,000 strong, in the last battle of the First Crusade. 65 years later to the day, in the Battle of Harim, Nur ad-Din Zangi defeated a crusader army, capturing in the process Raymond III of Tripoli, Bohemund III of Antioch, Konstantinos Kalamanos, Hugh VIII of Lusignan and Joscelin III of Edessa.

  33. Koby Says:

    Well, on Facebook Ken has celebrated today’s event with some beautiful poetry; I am not as skilled as that, and so I will only say that today, one of the most important events occurred, that still affects us to this day: Sharon Kay Penman was born. We would all me inestimably poorer without her, so Happy Birthday, many more to come with us all, and thank you so much for all you’ve given us, Sharon.

  34. Ken John Says:

    Yes. Happy Birtday Sharon. I’ll try to repost my Tribute on here, but it may be too long. Finger’s crossed.

    A Tribute to Sharon on her Birthday

    Chinon Castle. Christmas 1183. King Henry II’s Court.

    Henry: “Herald, send messengers to all the Royal characters in our dear leader’s books, that they are to attend me at my court to pay homage to their creator Sharon Kay on her birthday.”

    Herald disappears only to be back moments later to announce: “Sire, they are all here and are waiting to be presented to you. Shall I have them enter in alphabetical order or chronologically?” Henry pondered a moment and then: “No, let them all in together.” In they all troop: four Eleanors; two Richards; two Henrys which with the host makes three; two Simons; two Llywelyns; one John (looking very sulky); Several Mauds or Matildas; one Stephen and two Joannas.

    Henry II: “Quiet down and listen up you lot….

    Now let it be known that this very day,
    Is the birthday of our Sharon Kay.
    I want you all, one by one,
    Starting with you, the ones from ‘Sunne,’
    To bless her name, give thanks to she,
    Who saved us all from obscurity….”

    Richard III, the last Plantagenet,
    Was first to kneel, can you imagine it?

    “I give my homage to her of grandeur,
    Who rejected the Tudor propaganda,
    That those little princes in my power
    Were killed by me in the Tower.”

    Llywelyn Fawr was next to bend,
    His homage from ‘Here be Dragons’ to send.

    “I in turn salute Sharon Kay,
    Who saved me from having to pay,
    Homage to him, who gave me hassle,
    That bad King John, I’m not his vassal.”

    Bad King John was next in line:
    “Sharon, my lady, to me was grand,
    Gave many gifts to John Lackland,
    Though I’m last of the Devil’s litter,
    I’m ok; not really bitter.
    I gave Joanna, to that ingrate,
    That Welsh Prince, who I really hate.
    Enough of me, it’s all been said.
    But, I’m really glad she burnt his bed.”

    ‘Falls in Shadow’ was next to come.
    To laud our Sharon and give her comfort,
    Came Simon, yes he; of Montfort.

    “I give her thanks for all she’s done,
    To make the de Montforts number one.
    Thanks to her we’ll always be
    Her most beloved family.”

    ‘The Reckoning’ ends Sharon’s story
    Of Wales and England’s search for glory.
    Llywelyn ap Gruffudd now pays his homage:

    “Sharon Kay, that wonderful author,
    Gave me my Eleanor; Simon’s daughter.
    If only she could have found another
    To replace that most traitorous brother,
    I might have ruled to this day
    And found perhaps another way,
    For the Prince of Wales to be forever
    A Welshman. Not an Englishman. Never!”

    ‘WCHSS’ was next in line.
    Maud and Stephen took their time
    But both then knelt before the king.

    “Ours was a troubled time; we battled to a draw.
    England lay in ruins; no-one wanted more.
    So Sharon to our aid did come
    And gave to Maud a blessed son,
    A Henry two, no more no less,
    Our own beloved FitzEmpress!”

    ‘Time and Chance’ now had its turn
    And Eleanor with a look of scorn
    At Henry her host, did speak:

    “I will not kneel before you now,
    Nor to you will I ever bow.
    You who gave me little chance
    Me! Queen of England; once of France!
    But Sharon who was not so rude
    Provided me with a Devil’s Brood.
    To make you suffer; make you pay
    And one by one, they made my day”

    It’s ‘The Devil’s Brood’ and ‘Lionheart’ now.
    Young King Hal, Richard, Geoff and sulky John
    Knelt before Henry one by one.

    “We come to praise Sharon and wish her well,
    For weaving her magic and casting her spell.
    While you dear father we learned to hate,
    Sharon showed it was not too late,
    For us to be good and to earn our crowns
    What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?

    And now the hall rings out with song.
    Eleanor’s A, C, P, and M, joined every one
    To sing to Sharon on this special day.
    She pleases us in every way.

    “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Dear Sharon, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU”

  35. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Happy Birthday Sharon! In Ken’s words “give thanks to she who saved…” all those historical characters from obscurity, especially Henry the Young King :-) Thank you! Have a lovely day!

  36. Joan Says:

    Have a wonderful birthday, Sharon! I agree with Koby & thank you for the riches you’ve given us. People like you make the world a nicer place.

    Bravo Ken! That is magnificato!

  37. skpenman Says:

    Thank you all for the good wishes. Ken, I am in awe of your creation. I can’t wait to see what you do for Othon!

  38. skpenman Says:

    I posted Ken’s amazing opus on all of my Facebook pages with this commentary:

    We are in the presence of genius. You have to read Ken John’s birthday composition for me, in which he channels all of the major characters in my novels and even manages to find a word to rhyme with Plantagenet! I can’t see medieval kings serenading a mere scribe and a female one at that, but I am very grateful to Ken for prodding them into it.

  39. Koby Says:

    Today, Margaret Pole, George of Clarence’s daughter was born, as was Catherine of York, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s daughter. She was the last of Edward’s children to die, and her children would fall due to intriguing with their cousins the Poles against Henry VIII [IX].

  40. skpenman Says:

    I would like to thank everyone again for all of the birthday wishes this week. I had a lovely day—several of them, in fact—and I was very appreciative of your good wishes.
    For my fellow Bernard Cornwell fans, I have good news. There is a new book coming out in his wonderful Saxon series. The latest adventures of Uthred can be found in The Pagan Lord, which will be published in the UK, Canada, and Down Under in September. Sadly, it will not be published in the US until January, but for those of us—like me—who are unwilling to wait, there is always Book with free world-wide shipping.
    I wish I could tell my fellow Game of Thrones addicts that there is a publication date for the next book in George R.R. Martin’s Ice and Fire series, but no such luck. I am sure Master Martin is working very hard on it, though, no doubt feeling our collective hot breath on the back of his neck. And if I have Deadline Dragon problems, this poor man must have to fend off an army of the beasts. I do know that his Dangerous Women anthology will be published in December; he has a story in it, as do a number of gifted writers. I have a personal stake in it as it also contains my very first short story, which may be the only short story ever to have its own Author’s Note; I just couldn’t help myself. Master Martin’s contribution is actually a novella about our favorite fantasy land, Westeros, so it will have to tide us over until we can get our hands upon The Winds of Winter.

  41. Gabriele Says:

    Happy belated birthday, Sharon.

    GRR Martin has deadline monkeys, and one particularly big orang utan. :)

  42. Joan Says:

    Happy to know Bernard Cornwell is keeping them coming…..his writing continues to surprise me….. Sword Song is so much more than I thought it would be. And who would have guessed that a master at war battles, savagery, & gore could also get into our hearts & mist our eyes. A philosopher king!!

    Why am I not surprised we will be treated to a short story AN?!?

  43. skpenman Says:

    Because you know me too well, Joan!
    Gabriele, I’d much rather have a Deadline Dragon than a Deadline Monkey. My preference would be for a Deadline Dyrewolf, for he’d be easier to bribe with raw steak.

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    Wolfy Wolf posted this amazing video on my fan club page and I wanted to make sure no one missed it. Some of you may have seen a few of the rescues already, but it is inspiring to see them in a collective form like this. We agree that we need good news to balance out so much of the bad. And I dare any of those so-called experts to still contend that animals do not feel emotions after watching the reunion of the mother elephant with her baby or the sheer joy of the freed whale.

  44. Joan Says:

    Ah, refreshes the soul! Am sending this on to everyone I know! And will watch it with my granddaughters when I see them soon. If Chloe isn’t involved with animals or this planet in her future career, I’ll be very surprised. Thanks Sharon.

  45. Clare Ni Cholmain Says:


    I’ve just read about your Richard III tour in Englad now. I would have loved to pop over to York from Ireland for the open evening, (to see one of my favourite authors and one of my favourite cities together would be amazng!), but unfortunately work commitments will not permit it. I’ll be keeping an eye out in the hope of something similar next year! Best of luck with the tour.


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