Ranulf vs Richard

Wow!   This was a fascinating discussion about the use of purely fictional characters in books like mine.   Without doubt, I have remarkably perceptive and eloquent readers! It is gratifying, too, to find that my readers can intuitively sense what I am attempting to do with characters like Ranulf and Rhiannon; you were absolutely right, Michele, in concluding that I’d inserted Rhiannon into the story line to shed light upon the treatment of people with disabilities in the MA.    In Saints, I had Ranulf rescue two orphan children from the Fens, and again, I used them to dramatize the hardscrabble, perilous life of those at the very bottom of society’s social pyramid.   Several of you made the valid point that, in a sense, all characters in a book are fictional; writers start with the skeletal frame, if they are lucky, but then they have to flesh out the character by drawing upon their imaginations.

       This is where I think an Author’s Note is invaluable, for I firmly believe that if an author deviates from known historical facts, there is an obligation to discuss this deviation in the AN.  So often all we know of medieval people are their names and the stark facts of their lives—birth, marriage, death.  But when we are lucky enough to distill the essence of their beings from chronicles or individual actions, I think we owe it to our readers—and to the memories of these long-dead men and women—to depict them as they were, not as we’d like them to be.   So I am in total agreement with you, Sandy; it upsets me when I read a novel in which a real historical figure is distorted beyond recognition for the sake of plot development or the writer’s convenience.  Elizabeth Chadwick calls books like this “wall-bangers,” for even if they are well written, they are not playing fair with history.  

        I also agree with Sara’s post, that it can be liberating to read a book in which the fates of the main characters are not known.  This is one reason why I have enjoyed writing of medieval Wales so much.  I recently finished Brian Wainwright’s excellent historical novel, Within the Fetterlock, and one of the book’s many joys was that I was quite unfamiliar with his heroine, Constance of York.  So there were surprises lurking on every page.  And yes, this is the same Brian Wainwright who wrote the hilarious spoof, The Adventures of Alianore Audley.  While I’m on the subject of books I’ve been reading, I want to recommend another of Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels, Shadows and Strongholds, set in the 12th century during the last years of  the civil war between Stephen and Henry Fitz Empress. As always, she has created vivid, three-dimensional characters while skillfully balancing the needs of the novelist with those of the historian.  She is particularly effective at revealing the precarious nature of their lives during this turbulent, violent era of English history, just as she did in her book about John Marshal, A Place Beyond Courage.  It truly was a time when Christ and his saints slept.    

       Some of your recent comments concerned the challenges of travel in the MA.  I have been doing extensive research about the crossing of the Alps, and some of the accounts of these harrowing experiences are riveting.   It speaks volumes about the courage and hardiness of medieval men and women that they so often undertook voyages that would be unthinkable in our age.  John of Salisbury crossed the Alps no less than ten times, whereas once would have been more than enough for me if it had to be done by mule.  Our Eleanor did it four times, the last two crossings when she was well into her sixties and in the dead of winter, too.   This is the next chapter in Lionheart, and I am looking forward to it—sometimes writers can have devilish fun making our characters suffer in the name of high drama! 

      Megan, I am so pleased that you named your son Owen; I understand, though, why you compromised with Anglicized spelling.  I did the same in Here be Dragons, using the more familiar spelling of Llewelyn rather than the pure Welsh of Llywelyn.  And friends of mine in Colorado who wanted to name their daughter after Gwynedd opted for spelling her name Gwyneth—although most people now assume she was named after Gwyneth Paltrow. 

        I find it very interesting that some of you are writers, too.  I hope you’ll keep us updated on the progress of your novel, Ken, as Othon sounds like a man who definitely deserves to have his own book.   I was intrigued by your revelation, Gabriele, that your novel was not working for you until you decided to add a “layer of magic.”   And I understand completely your complaint that some characters have to be watched closely lest they take the book in directions the writer does not want to go.   I’ve had several characters show that sort of devious determination to claim center stage.  Llewelyn ap Gruffydd’s brother Davydd had his own ideas how his character should be portrayed, and we had a battle of wills that lasted through two books.   Another character who took a small role and expanded it until he stole virtually every scene he was in was the Welsh poet-prince, Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd.  As an example, he wanted to go along with his friend Ranulf when Henry attempted to make good Eleanor’s rather tenuous claim to Toulouse.   So he reminded me that one of the chronicles said a Welsh prince did, in fact, accompany the English army, insisting with impeccable logic that since the name of this prince was not known, who is to say it could not have been Hywel?   Because he was a charmer, without some of Davydd’s darker undertones, Hywel usually got his way.  It is hard to deny a man whose poetry has withstood the tests of eight centuries.

       James, I am sorry but I cannot comment upon The Tudors, never having seen any of the episodes; too much fiction and not enough history for me.    Kristen, I’ve only read one Alys Clare mystery; while they are well written, I was not comfortable with the freedom enjoyed by her abbess.  If you want an accurate portrayal of the world of a medieval nun, try any of Margaret Frazer’s Sister Frevisse mysteries.  Robin, I’m not familiar with the trilogy written by Posie Graeme-Evans; I tend to stay away from books written about “my” characters; while I’m writing, I don’t want to be influenced, even subconsciously, and afterward a sense of territorial imperative kicks in!   Kristen, all of the songs I quoted in the wedding scene in The Reckoning were actual medieval compositions, but I am sure “Maria Perez” was the creation of a troubadour’s inventive imagination.  Women did take part in the crusades, though, the most infamous case being that of Eleanor of Aquitaine, dubbed by one recent historian the “femme fatale of the Second Crusade.”    Lastly, I hope your wedding was a lovely one, Beth, and the notoriously erratic Welsh weather cooperated for once. 

         Judith has pointed out that there are societies for Richard III, Simon de Montfort, and Napoleon, but sadly, none for Eleanor.  There is also a Gwenllian Society in Wales, and they have succeeded in getting a Welsh mountain named in honor of this tragic princess.    I agree with Judith that Eleanor has been unfairly overlooked.  Anyone want to remedy that injustice and start a society on her behalf? 

       I’d mentioned doing a book drawing, but I think I’ll have to save it for the next blog.  Eleanor is impatient to cross the Pyrenees and collect Richard’s future wife, and I am not going to argue with a woman who signed herself “Eleanor, by the wrath of God, Queen of England.”

May 5, 2009



36 Responses to “Ranulf vs Richard”

  1. Ken Says:

    Yes! As Judith said on the last post, I get to be first!

    Thanks for the encouragement for my novel about Othon de Grandson (and his Savoyards!). I only hope that I can do justice to such an extraordinary man. In terms of medieval travel, he must be up there with the best - 2 crusades, 5 or 6 missions to Rome, similar number to Paris, Gascony and to his home on Lake Neuchatel - he was still travelling when he died aged 90!

    Not much romance though, he never married. the UK Grandsons all descended from his brother. He did fall in love in 1279, with the daughter of Count Otto of burgundy and started to arrange marriage. When Edward heard of his plans, he wrote to Othon - ‘that out of regard for Othon’s honour and advantage, he would have desired that such an affair should be arranged in his presence, or at least after conference with him, but since in matters of this sort the wishes of the contracting parties commonly defeat the wishes of others, he would agree to whatever Othon’s kinsfolk and friends might approve.’
    Othon took the hint and the matrimonial scheme came to nothing - what a sense of duty!
    I shall have to find the romance among the other characters!

  2. Paula Says:

    Over the last few weeks I have been re reading Time and Chance. In an ealier blog the discussion about character types- mushrooms, onions etc- reminded me about Hywel ab Owain. I have enjoyed discovering him again. What I really like about the book though is the tension in the scenes with Henry and all his troubles with Thomas Becket. Rivetting, fascinating reading. I am now looking forward to reading Devils Brood again. And it goes without saying that I am eagerly awaiting the next book about Richard.

    If there was a society for Eleanor I would join it in a heartbeat. But, I think I would join a society for Henry Fitz Empress even sooner. I have a very big soft spot for him despite his many faults. I was wondering what other readers of this blog think of Henry?

  3. Beth Says:

    Where to start? You always leave us with so much to think about in your blog entries, Sharon!

    I must agree with you on The Tudors. What’s pleasing about it is the detailing, for example of sets and costumes, and that it does cover events that other programmes and films on the Tudors have skimmed over. But it does take quite a few liberties with the historical accuracy (such as amalgamating Princesses Margaret and Mary Tudor), for the sake of the drama. Although sometimes I think I need to silence my inner historian, because I often find myself picking out the inconsistencies in historical based films and programmes, and those who watch and have little to no knowledge of the era feel I am being too pedantic.

    I must just say, although many other people have said it already, I do love how you have explored and illuminated Wales in the Medieval era. I’ve often felt that Welsh history is frustratingly ephemeral and fragmentary, so it’s wonderful to learn more about it and how events could have played out. My ancestors are Welsh Celts and I’ve spent some time in this beautiful country, and I have to say, reading your books I can almost feel the ancestral blood stirring and singing and calling me back home to Wales!

    I would definitely join a society for Eleanor if there was one! At the same time though, I’m looking forwards to seeing how you’re going to portray Berengaria. Eleanor’s personality seems to completely overshadow and dominate her, leaving me insatiable curious about her! At the same time I loved Ranulf and Rhiannon, the characters you created. I prefer my historical fiction as accurate as possible, but I see no harm in filling in the gaps and absences in history, as long as the author remains within the realms of possibility and plausibility, I don’t like it if they try to fill in the gaps with material that is completely unrealistic and implausible, it feels like someone trying to force the wrong piece into a space in a puzzle, it just doesn’t fit!

    I myself try and do some writing as well… and I do often feel like the characters have a mind of their own! As if their reactions to the events that occur are their own and already decided for me - the logical reaction based on their past experiences and personalities, and nothing to do with me at all. And just as you describe precisely, sometimes bit-part characters seem to take on a life of their own and expand into a far larger role than I originally intended for them! I’m only a writer in my spare time right now, since I am currently studying for a degree at university and my studies take up a majority chunk of my time, but I hope one day to write full time, become published. I think I need to spend some time thinking about what I’d like to write about though, at the moment I have a plethora of loose ideas and I really must try to narrow down and focus.

    Since I’ve already banged on enough for now, I will only add that I too have a soft spot for Henry FitzEmpress, amongst the many other historical figures that I have soft spots for.

  4. Gabriele Says:

    Sharon, the magic layer got me out of the quandary that in KINGS AND REBELS I didn’t want to write the story of King Henry, Duke Heinrich the Lion of Saxony, King William of Scotland and other historical persons, but the story of the fictive Roderic de Sinclaire, Alastair O’Duibhne and Kjartan Haraldson, relegating the historical characters to the second row. But historical facts kept getting in the way of their story, and so I decided to shift to Fantasy (sort of the way Guy Gavriel Kay or Jacqueline Carey do) with a still visible historical subtext. Also, the lost kingdoms of Kêr Ys, Cantre’r Gwaelod, Vineta and Avalon I brought into the mix are a lot of fun. :)

    Arminius, the character who stole A LAND UNCONQUERED …. well, hopefully you’ll be able to read about him some day. ;) We know a few facts about his life, but nothing about his motivations. What made a Cheruscian prince, who also was a Roman citizen and member of the Roman nobility, a decorated officer whose intelligence and courage even his enemies praised, turn on the Romans and lure three legions into a deadly trap in the Teutoburg Forest? How did he in the years to follow manage to keep the field against the Romans returning with six legions, and members of his own family and of other Germanic tribes of the alliance he had formed? Fascinating material for a writer.

  5. Elizabeth Chadwick Says:

    Enjoyed your post as always Sharon. I’m afraid ‘wallbanger’ is a term long coined elsewhere and I borrowed it from a friend on a reading forum.
    I want to thank you for recommending The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Gouillou. I have really enjoyed the book and I am going to try and get hold of the film now. I so agree with you re crossing the Alps and other such journeys. I guess when you think how peripatetic great households were, much of the travelling must have seemed like business as usual (well until you got above a certain altitude!) Whereas the peasantry had their roots in just a single parish, the likes of Eleanor and Richard spent most of their lives living in a different place every couple of days with their belongings transported on wagons.
    Paula, my take on Henry II is that he was a truly great king with far ranging vision, but like everyone he was flawed and he sometimes took the wrong fork in the road or found himself blocked by others and struggling to find a way round. I think too that he must have been like a hot, intense hearth fire and in his prime nothing could touch him. But gradually the fierceness of the blaze of the early and prime years took their toll on him and burned him out.
    Sharon portrays him superbly.

  6. Judith Says:

    I wouldn’t argue with Eleanor either…

    Paula, I have a soft spots for many historical figures, including Napoleon and Richard III, but Henry II has the biggest one. He had amazing qualities that made him a great king, but a not-so-great man. I find that the character I relate to most is Rosamund, with her childish crush on him!

    Another person I have soft spots for are Hal and Geoffrey in ‘Devil’s Brood’. My feelings for Hal can be summed up in Eleanor’s line: “My poor Hal. He wanted so to be a king and he was nothing more that a pawn.” I pity him like a mother. Geoffrey, on the other hand, I think would have made a great king, and eerily reminds me of his father. I cried buckets when both of them died, and even more when Henry passed away.

    Anyways I’ll go now and read Time and Chance, my new favorite book. Sharon and Ken, happy writing and/or studying!

  7. Sara Says:

    How does one go about starting a society? I would probably join one for Eleanor. Hmmm…perhaps some research is to be had while we wait for Lionheart…

    My opinion of Henry II, to throw my two cents into the discussion, is that he was a great king by the standards of his day, one of the greatest kings in English history. He appears to have had a strong influence in making England “England” and not just an annex of Normandy, thus giving the country some of its identity that it carries to this day. (Am I wrong on that?) A great king for his day - and I keep saying “for his day” because some of his practices would seem barbaric for modern society - but everything in context. I also think he was highly flawed and had an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, but that seemed to just flow in the Plantagenet bloodline. A great hero of history - and yet just a human as well.

    Well, that’s enough expounding for one night, it’s time to get back to my biography of Queen Isabella, the She-Wolf of France!

  8. Gayle Says:

    Hello All,

    My daughter has been urging me to view The Tudors, but she also says that I will probably take issue with the “liberties” taken with the actual history. I, too, become very aggravated with inaccurate portrayals, details of society, etc in historical or period movies and such.

    I was really irritated with Keira Knightley’s Pride and Prejudice. The director so obviously wanted to make sure his version of the story was substantially different than the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth that he just floated away on a sea of inaccuracies. I could write a book or give a 2 hour lecture on the things I took issue with from Keira Knightley’s Lizzie to the costumes and the placement of key scenes from the book.

    Enough of that! I really enjoy the fictional characters you bring into your stories, because I have noticed that you use them to tell the story in conversation before your main character steps into the scene. I.E. the country girl visiting her sister who is Geoffrey D’Anjou’s mistress just after he and Matilda were married. Their conversation prior to his entry to the scene explained a lot! And it is a good way to handle these things.

    If any readers want to read a slightly different take on the Welsh after the death of their last King, I recommend the Princes of Gwennedd quartet by Margaret Pargeter. I purchased it as one book and it took a lot of reading, but was very interesting. I liked it but I didn’t love it, as I do Sharon’s books.

    I am going through withdrawal right now because all my books are packed away and I cannot get to them. I may be forced to go to the library! I hope the library would have your books and Elizabeth Chadwick’s! It would be a pity if they didn’t.

    Re: “England” becoming itself rather than a province of the Dukes of Normandy. It was over 400 years after The Conquest before the nobility in England began speaking English! They were still identifying themselves as Norman-French in King John’s reign! French was the language of the nobility and people who couldn’t speak French were viewed as being lower class!

    Sharon, I love your comment about the characters in your books taking on a life of their own and how you fight with them! That is charming!

    I hope King Richard the Lionheart doesn’t give you too much trouble. All of your readers/fans are looking forward to the novel.

  9. Michele O'Connor Says:

    I am in agreement that no one should argue with Eleanor!! But she is such a facscnating character - it’s hard to where to draw the appropriate lines! Looking froward to the book drawing.

    On a separate note - we did Devil’s Brood as our book club choice this month and what a spirited - 2 and 1/2 hour discussion we had!!! I wanted to do an author call but we had to reschedule 2x so that was not feasible. But WOW!!! People’s opinions on motivations, reasons, etc - amazing and enlightening. And three new people were turned on to Sharon Kay Penman!!!! So yeah it was a great month for me!!!

  10. Carrie Says:

    This is such a great way to converse with so many other knowledgeable history lovers, writers, and readers.

    I was struck by Sharon’s comment on Alys Clare’s mysteries versus Margaret Frazer’s more accurate Sister Frevisse, especially since I’m working on my own historical mystery, which is set in the Welsh Marches, with a female sleuth and mixture of historical and fictional characters.

    I’m constantly trying to find a balance between historical accuracy and an exciting, imaginative plot. In my more philosophic moments, I wonder if true historical accuracy is even possible for a modern writer? How much historical interpretation and/or historical inaccuracies, both glaring and more subtle, will the reader accept?

    And those of you writing historical fiction and/or mysteries, how do you find this balance? When do you out the textbook down and give imagination free rein? How do you handle the contradictions in medieval thought and culture, like woman’s roles, etc?

  11. cindy ash Says:

    Hi Sharon! I don’t know why its taken me so long to finally come on board, but here I am!

    I so agree with you about author notes. Often I read them even before I read a book. They are vital to my understanding of history and to my enjoyment of the book, and am unlikely to finish a book without one, esp if its historical accuracy is questionable. So I appreciate yours. One thing I would ask of writers - not only include author notes, but decent maps, both of the local area and the countries involved! Yes I can Google, but its so much easier to just turn a page. I also appreciate good genealogy notes, that are easy to read.

    Im thrilled to hear that many of your books are being re-released. What is the process for that? I just finished reading Legacy by Susan Kay, about Eliz I. I didn’t think I was interested till Eliz Chadwick recommended it. Oh my - nothing I have read about the queen holds a shadow what this book offers, and I am appaled that it is out of print. How does one recommend a rerelease of a book, is there a way that fans can help? Or does it have to come from the writer/estate? (btw, is Kay still writing? I tried looking her up and found next to nothing)

  12. Elizabeth Chadwick Says:

    On the run here and mainly for Cindy - sorry for hi-jacking the blog!
    You could try writing to Shana Drehs as Sourcebooks. Source are looking to move in depth into historical fiction and they are championing books not readily available in the USA - either because authors have not broken big there yet, or because they are deceased/out of print. Georgette Heyer for example, Daphne Du Maurier, Margaret Campbell Barnes, Helen Hollick. Susan Kay’s Legacy would be perfect for their list. It won the UK’s RNA award back in ummm…. 1990 I think - as did The Other Boleyn Girl in 2001.

    Shana Drehs
    Senior Editor
    Sourcebooks, Inc.
    1935 Brookdale Road, Suite 139
    Naperville, Illinois 60563

  13. Susan Says:

    Good morning - this note is mostly for Elizabeth Chadwick as I know that she reads the blog.

    Elizabeth - I have all of your books (imported from the UK) but am a great fan of Amazon’s Kindle ereader. Any chance that you might make your books available in Kindle format in the U.S.? I’d love to be able to download them to my Kindle and carry them with me everywhere.

    Sharon - thanks for making your books available for Kindle. I have bought them all and am still waiting for ‘The Reckoning’ to be made available in Kindle format. The other two books of the Welsh trilogy already are on Kindle, so hopefully it will also be available soon. Thank you for the many happy hours that I’ve spent with your books:)

  14. cindyash Says:

    EC, thanks. I sent them an email at their site, but I’ll make the extra effort and send the snail mail as well.

  15. cindyash Says:

    Great news! I just got this mail from Sourcebooks:

    Dear Cindy - thank you for your email. I can’t tell you how coincidental he timing is on your email, because it wasn’t more than an hour ago hat we were discussing Susan Kay’s book Legacy. You’ll be pleased to now that we have already contracted this wonderful book and our fiction
    imprint will be releasing a quality paperback edition of it in the
    spring of 2010.

    Best Wishes,
    Todd Stocke
    Vice President, Editorial Director
    Sourcebooks * 1935 Brookdale Road, Suite 139
    Naperville, IL 60563
    630-961-3900, x243 * fax 630-961-2168

    YES! Pass on the word to other HF fans you know!

  16. Elizabeth Chadwick Says:

    I crave your indulgence one more time. I don’t want to hog the blog!
    Susan. We authors don’t have a say in what becomes available on Kindle and what doesn’t. We’re at the mercy of our publishers and whatever they negotiate. Kindle isn’t available in the UK and I’d need a USA contract before the books can go into Kindle format. The good news is that aforementioned Sourcebooks (Cindyash’s comment above) are going to be publishing The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion in the USA, and others to follow, and they will be available in Kindle.
    Sharon, have you ever tried a Kindle reader? Everyone who has bought one seems to love theirs. I think I would have to have the book in both formats. I’d be too scared of a treasured read being lost if I dropped the Kindle in a puddle, or if it corrupted. Then again, my much loved copy of Here Be dragons is now much the worse for wear!

  17. Susan Says:

    Sharon and Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your reply Elizabeth. I will be watching for your books when they become available in Kindle format, although I already have them in hardback. In response to your ‘dropping the Kindle’ comment, Amazon maintains a library of all of the Kindle books that you have purchased. They are available to re-download at any time in less than a minute. I love my Kindle and currently have all of Sharon’s Kindle-formated books, together with about 150 others available in my purse to read at any time.

    Sharon, thank you for making this blog, and thus direct communication with the authors of much-treasured books available.

  18. cindyash Says:

    PS Sharon, sorry for hijacking your thread! Looking forward to more of your posts :)

  19. Sandi Thompson Says:


    I love what you said about your character’s hijacking the story. another favorite author of mine says the same thing!! They are people after all and have minds of their own :)
    I would love to belong to a society for Eleanor. What an amazing woman she was. You capture her frustration perfectly because her hands were so often tied by her times. As Queen in her own right, she would have done some great things, I think. Too bad she and Henry couldn’t see what they had - together as equals things would have been different. Maybe the whole history would have been different. The French would be speaking English!! Anyone for an alternate history tale?
    I always get reading ideas from the AN section. Okay, so I am one of those people who reads dull boring histories - but you learn so much. I have bought tons of books on Author’s research lists to get even deeper into the period. It’s great. And now blogging adds more books to my list. I have to live another hundred years to read them all!!
    By now she is across the Alps. What’s next?

  20. Ken John Says:


    My post doesn’t really follow the threads above, but as I am in a quandary, I thought I’d ask the question anyway!

    I think that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew! This may be a common problem, but I am spending more time wondering how to integrate all my characters into a single story, than actually writing anything!

    I have 4 characters: Othon de Grandson (main character), James of St. George, Edward 1 and Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, who all lived during the same period and had dealings with each other to differing degrees.

    I note that in your AN for ‘Falls the Shadow’. you also faced the problem of compressing a shared story between Ll ap G and Simon de Montfort, opting finally for a book about each of them.

    Currently, I am taking the story about Othon and bringing in, as and when, history (and my imagination dictates) the other characters. I imagine it in proceeding in periods of time, eg. From Othon’s introduction into Queen Eleanor (of Provence) household to be a childhood friend of the young Edward, to the battle of Evesham. Then on to the dealings with Ll ap G and Edward’s crusade, the building of the castles in North Wales and, finally, the role of Othon as ambassador and friend of Edward to the end.

    This is surely too much (and too many confusing characters!) to be put into one book.As a new writer, I would appreciate advice as to whether to narrow down my ambitions and concentrate on a single period in their lives, to make the book more punchy! Or, even at this stage of my development, consider 2 books or even a trilogy??

    Perhaps I should have asked this question in an email to you, but I know many well-known authors read your blog, as well as novices like myself. I can use all the help I can get!


  21. Kristen Elizabeth Says:

    Sharon, thank you for the comment on the Alyse Clare series! A friend of mine recommended them, but I have to be careful in taking her recommendations. The other day she said something to the effect of “OMG The Tudors is the best TV show EVER!!” *facepalm*

    Thank you, too, for the clarification on the Maria Perez song. I am interested in female crusaders and was hoping to track down more info on her if she was real. Alas… :)

    To join in the conversation about Kindle, I am *so* tempted to get one, but I don’t know. I love my physical books so much I don’t know if I could make the switch entirely. It would be a physical as well as emotional pain, I think. I couldn’t afford both Kindle and hard copy editions. However, the Kindle also reminds me of the PADDs all the Starfleet officers use in Star Trek, which makes me inordinately happy. *blush*

    Elizabeth, I am going back to England in the fall and one of the many reasons I’m completely stoked about it is that I hope to be able to track down some new copies of your books! I have only been able to find used copies on Amazon, and I’m way picky about my books–I really don’t like to buy used if I can possibly avoid it. It’s a neurosis of some kind, I’m sure… :) Anyway, I am looking forward to browsing through a London bookstore for your works.

    The thought of traveling across the Alps via mule actually sounds kind of exciting to me. Of course, that would probably last exactly as long as the ground was reasonably stable and there were no cliffs on either side of me! I wonder how many people died, and how many documents have been lost over time through crossings like this? What a wonder it would be to find a cask of documents that tipped over an edge somewhere!

  22. Gabriele Says:

    Kristen, no neurosis, just a healthy dose of love for books. I’m the same. Fortunately I can get both UK and US editions via Amazon.de (and free of shipping) but if a book is totally out of print, I have to either get a used copy or nor read it. Both options suck.

    Btw, if you think crossing the Alps by mule is difficult, try elephants. :D

  23. Kristen Elizabeth Says:

    Gabriele, you’re lucky! I can GET Elizabeth Chadwick’s books on Amazon, but they’re all used, and kind of expensive. I wouldn’t mind paying that for a new copy but not used where I’m not sure of the actual condition of the book until I get it in my hands. As it is, I’m a little strapped so I try to be *extra* picky. LOL.

    Alps via elephant! No kidding! How people survived back in the day will never cease to amaze me. :)

  24. Julie Saville Says:

    Just found your blog, and am greatly enjoying it. I am on a Sharon Kay Penman reading marathon. I just reread “When Christ and the Saints Slept” and then the next two in the triology (for the first time). Then I had to continue on in time, rereading your Welsh trilogy for the 3rd time. I want to state that I love, absolutely love, to see geneological charts of the characters. A cast of characters is nothing compared to understanding the family relationships among the characters. I also love maps. I refer to the maps and charts (if available) constantly throughout your books. Your chart in “Christ and the Saints” made sense of the Stephen/Maude civil war for the first time. I had never understood that Henry II was really the “legal” heir — thought that he upsurped the thrown until I studied your chart, even though I’d read Costain’s “The Last Plantagenets” series (years ago). I am greatly looking forward to “Lionheart.”

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