A Holiday Giveaway

     I am sorry for taking so long to get this up.  But I continue to have back pain and Richard continues to be a royal pain—sorry, couldn’t resist that.   I finally finished the chapter in which he arrives at the siege of Acre and hoped to have the new blog up this weekend.  So of course Merlin, my evil computer, chose that time for another one of his major meltdowns.  I’ll spare you all the gory details since some of you have probably read about it during my Facebook rants once I finally got on-line.   This one was so infuriating and frustrating that I have decided to re-christen the misnamed Merlin.  From now on he is officially known as the Demon-Spawn.

       I haven’t forgotten my promise to talk more about my trip, especially our time in Carcassonne, which was truly magical.  I’d like to devote a blog to the Albigensian Crusade, which is one of the darker chapters in the history of the Church; it does have relevancy to Lionheart as Raimond de St Gilles, Count of Toulouse, was the second husband of Richard’s favorite sister, Joanna.   Raimond is a truly tragic figure, for like Richard III, his reputation and his memory ended up in the hands of his enemies.  Once again history was rewritten by the victors—in this case the Papacy and the French Crown.  Raimond was a man of culture, well educated, a poet, more of a politician than a soldier, with a fatal flaw for someone living in the MA.  Although he was a practicing Catholic himself, he was tolerant of other religious practices and allowed his subjects to follow the beliefs of the Cathars, a religious sect that enjoyed considerable popularity in the south of France.  He was to pay a terrible price for that tolerance, a price he continues to pay to this day, for there are no Raimond de St Gilles societies seeking to clear his name; in that Richard was luckier than Raimond.    I will discuss this in greater depth in a later blog.  I just wanted to explain why we’d lit candles for Raimond and the young martyred Viscount of Carcassonne in the cathedral of St Nazaire.    Theirs is a story that should not be forgotten.

         I have some books to recommend.  The first is Sean McGlynn’s By Sword and Fire,  a well-written and well-researched examination of medieval warfare.  It is not for the faint of heart, as it often makes grim reading.  But I highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about this very timely subject.  He discusses the killing of prisoners at Agincourt and Hattin and the Siege of Acre, the sacking of cities like Beziers and Jerusalem, and such notorious campaigns as the Black Prince’s infamous chevauchees during the Hundred Years War.  He delves into the so-called Code of Chivalry and how it was rarely applied to non-combatants, and he also looks at the wider picture—the psychological motivations of medieval soldiers and the bonding experienced by men at war.   And he devotes a fair amount of time to Richard’s military career, sure to be of interest to anyone looking forward to reading Lionheart.    As an added bonus, he has a lively writing style and can find gallows humor in the most unlikely of circumstances. 

       I have recommended the following books in earlier blogs, but I want to mention them again for new readers.  Two very good accounts of Richard’s exploits during the Third Crusade are Geoffrey Regan’s Lionhearts: Richard I, Saladin, and the Era of the Third Crusade and David Miller’s Richard the Lionheart.  These focus upon the military aspects of the crusade.  Another excellent book is Crusading Warfare, 1097-1193 by R. C. Smail.  Or The Art of Warfare in Western Europe During the Middle Ages by J. F. Verbruggen, which includes an excellent account of Richard’s battle against Saladin at Arsuf.  Speaking of Saladin, one of the best books about this remarkable man is Saladin; the Politics of the Holy War by Malcolm Cameron Lyons and D. E. P. Jackson.  And two books I have recommended in the past deserve another mention.  The first is War and Chivalry; the Conduct and Perception of War in England and Normandy, 1066-1217, by Matthew Strickland, and the second is The Plantagenet Chronicles, edited by Elizabeth Hallam.  The latter covers the Angevin dynasty, beginning with Henry and ending with John’s reign; it offers over 100 essays about the kings and their times and large excerpts from the chronicles, many of which have never been translated into English before, as well as some magnificent photography and good maps.  This is a book that should be in the library of anyone interested in Henry, Eleanor, and the Devil’s Brood.   If any of you would like additional recommendations about books dealing with Richard, the Third Crusade, or medieval warfare, please contact me and I would be happy to discuss other books I have found very useful in my research. 

        Now for a change of pace, I have a novel to recommend.  While I was in France, I had a chance to read C. W. Gortner’s The Last Queen, an account of the life of Katherine of Aragon’s sister, known to history as Juana La Loca.  Christopher succeeds in bringing this remarkable woman to vivid life and her story will linger in your memories long after the book is done.   On to mysteries, as two of my favorite writers have new books out now.  Margaret Frazer has A Play of Treachery, about her dashing player-spy Joliffe, set in 15th century England and France.  And I just received a copy of Spencer Quinn’s new book, Thereby Hangs a Tail, which will be published in early January.  Spencer’s series is not medieval, but it is very imaginative and great fun to read—a unique first-person account given by Chet, the detective hero’s dog.   Trust me, he really pulls it off!  

         Regarding the comments to my last blog, I thought the discussion about Kindle was very interesting.  I don’t have a Kindle myself; I prefer a “real” book.  But I do understand the appeal of a Kindle book, especially for traveling, and I can see a day when I get one myself.  I just hope e-books never replace real books and co-exist peacefully.  Paula, as far as I know, there is no bus service to Fontevrault Abbey.  It is possible to take a train to Saumur, though, and if you were really determined not to drive, you could take a taxi to the abbey; I think it is about eight miles away.   Jamie, I definitely hope to visit Albi one day; I loved your story about the Isle Flotante desert, BTW.  I’ll be sure to ask for it when I go back. 

       On December 11th, the anniversary of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s death in 1282, I received an amazing photo from Fiona Scott-Doran, one of my Australian readers, which is now posted on my Facebook page.   Rhys Jones, a Welsh soldier stationed in Afghanistan, had a copy made of Llywelyn’s royal standard and flew it over their base.  The caption of the photo says that it is the first time that Llywelyn’s banner has flown over a castle held by Welshmen since Castell y Bere in 1283.  Rhys has a wonderful site on Facebook called The Native History of Wales; this is accessible to the public and you can go to Facebook and see it even if you are not Facebook members.  I highly recommend doing so for anyone interested in medieval Wales, and that includes our whole group!   It gave me a chill to see that photo.  Diolchy yn Fawr, Rhys.    

          I probably won’t be able to put up a new post until after Christmas, but  to thank you for making this blog so much fun, I would like to do a drawing for a  signed copy of Devil’s Brood, the British edition.  Any one who posts a comment to this blog will be eligible to win.   Now..the Welsh princes would have said “Nadolig Llawen” and the Angevins “Joyeux Noel.”  I’ll settle for wishing you all the happiest of holidays. 

December 17, 2009

167 Responses to “A Holiday Giveaway”

  1. Jeff Says:

    So many great book suggestions. Thank you!

  2. Pam Says:

    Oh, wow…my “to read” pile just grows and grows! Thanks for the recommendations and may you have a wonderful Christmas (hopefully free of any Demon-Spawn mischief)!

  3. Lisa Says:

    Sharon, do you have any books to recommend on Simon de Montfort pere and/or the Albigensian Crusades? What I have found thus far is that English-language ones tend to have a Protestant bias, leading them to paint the Cathars as heroic proto-Protestants speaking truth to the Church’s power (despite the fact that their theology appears to me to have been a bit out there), while French ones are (still) caught up in the political question of Occitan independence and tend to cast S. de M. as an agent of cultural destruction and genocide on behalf of the French crown.

  4. Christine Says:

    I have the complete set of Elizabeth Hallam’s Plantagenet Chronicles and its sequels, found them all to be fascinating. Thanks for the other recommendations.

    Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  5. Cate Cushing Says:

    Nadolig Llawen Sharon! I am re-reading ‘When Christ and His Saint’s Slept’ currently, I am sure it will make the plane ride home from school more interesting, tomorrow! Have an excellent Chrismas!

  6. Teresa Ballard Says:

    Sharon, Thanks for all the book suggestions. I received my newest Margaret Frazer from Amazon last week and gobbled it down. Now I’m sad because I want another! I guess I’ll check out some of your suggestions. Most of the authors you mention are already among my “keepers”. Thanks for being so gracious with your time. I love to read your blogs and your readers are so knowledgeable, I learn alot from them too.

  7. Nan hawthorne Says:

    Considering Devil’s Brood is the only one of your books i have not read, I would dearly love to win an autographed copy! Pretty please with sugar on it?

    Thanks Sharon.. I so wish you were not in pain… it just ain’t fair.

    Nan hHawthorne
    hawthorne@nanhawthorne.com

  8. DeAnna A. Says:

    I just finished The Last Queen and really enjoyed it. Sadly, I can’t find his first book anywhere around here, even through interlibrary loan.

  9. Michele O'Connor Says:

    Great reading suggestions! I just finished Elizabeth Chadwick’s book about Will Marshal and really enjoyed it. I’m putting The Plantagenet Chronicles on my Christmas list - hopefully it won’t be too hard for my husband/kids/best friend/secret santa to find!!

    Sorry Merlin had to be re-named…but the new moniker does seem appropriate.

    Have a wonderful holiday season and I hope your back stops giving you trouble.

  10. Victoria M. Says:

    floating island is the best dessert ever - you must try it when you can.

    i’ve just taken devil’s brood off my bookcase to re-read it this christmas, but i may try something new off the list you gave in your post… hmm.. decisions decisions.

    your writing inspires me. thank you so much for all you do - especially the blog and website. if ever i want something great to read, i don’t have to look very far!

    and i can’t post this comment without saying it - kindles are overrated.

  11. Brianna Says:

    Thanks for all the book suggestions, now that I have finished school I have time to read for fun so I can put it to good used! I very much enjoy Margaret Frazer’s books and will keep my eye out for the newer one. I hope you too have a Happy Holiday and look forward to the next blog.

  12. Koby Says:

    Thank for the book suggestions, Sharon. I’ll have to make an effort to see if I can find some of them.
    Anyway, I have a new topic to discuss: in our age of internet, access to authors and other people which was formerly harder became much easier. I personally have already exchanged messages online with at least 6 authors. And while all those authors are easily accesable to talk with, personal information about them is scarce. What do you guys think? Should Authors keep their private lives to themselves? Or if they decide to interact with their fans, should the fans be able to know some of their private life?
    I personally side with the first way. The fact that get to talk with these authors isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. And so I certainly don’t have the right to more information other than what the author is willing to share. The author’s private life isn’t relevant to the interaction between you. After all, if you didn’t know about the author anything and couldn’t contact him, you would still like his books and be a fan. So why should this be different? Interaction does not demand familiarity, nor should it.
    Your thoughts?

  13. Celia Says:

    A Merry Christmas to all. The book suggestions are much appreciated, and mean that my list of books to read grows and grows.
    In response to Koby I believe that an authors life should still be able to be private if they wish it that way. An author my daughter follows on twitter is sharing some of her private life with her fans - she is young and they are teenagers. Those of us who have been around for a little longer would I am sure fell they have the right to private life. So I agree contact and being able to communicate with them about books and common interests does not mean I have to know all.
    I like the way that Sharon makes personal responses to people on Facebook, and the way she lets us know when a blog has gone up.

  14. Ellie Lewis Says:

    The David Miller book is sitting in my bathroom….in case I have a few spare minutes. Am I the only one with a bookshelf in my bathroom?
    Sharon…… Votre amitie signifie beaucoup. Felicitations toujours.
    Happy Holidays to all my online friends.

  15. Ken Says:

    Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda, Sharon!

    I will definitely get Sean McGlynn’s book ‘By sword and fire’, to help me in describing Othon’s battle scenes!

    Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

  16. Sharon K Penman Says:

    An interesting question, Koby. I provide no personal information on my Facebook page, a deliberate choice which enables me then to “friend” anyone who asks since I don’t have to worry about invasions of privacy, etc. The alternative would be to limit the page only to people I actually know, and I didn’t want to do that. One writer friend does that, a second will accept people if they have mutual friends. It is sad that we have to be a bit guarded about such things, but this is the downside of the modern technology. And yes, Ellie, you one-upped me here; I don’t have a bookshelf in my bathroom, but it’s a good idea. Ken, I think you’ll really enjoy the Sean McGlynn book; well, maybe “enjoy” isn’t the right word, but it is one of the best studies of medieval warfare that I’ve come across. I especially like his thoroughness; for example, he reports the “traditional” story that all of the people in the city were slaughtered when the Christians took Jerusalem in the First Crusade, but then examines other contemporary sources to show there may have been some survivors, even more than one massacre. And he makes compelling arguments for motivation, showing why mercy was extended or withheld in differing circumstances, almost always based upon military considerations.

  17. Linda B. Says:

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I just ordered a used copy of the Plantagenet Chronicles.
    I’m anxiously awaiting your future blog about Raimond de St. Gilles and the Viscount of Carcassone. Ever since reading Elizabeth Chadwick’s Daughters of the Grail I’ve been interested in this era.
    And I certainly agree with your comment about The Last Queen; I really enjoyed it.

  18. Elina Says:

    Great book recommendations! I’d love to get my hands on The Plantagenet Chronicles. I prefer real books too and I’ve never had e-books or anything…

  19. Bella Says:

    Fantastic reading recommendations, thanks for all of these Sharon! It is enchanting to hear more about your trip to Carcassonne (sigh), hope to some day make it there… Good to hear that you are getting ready for Christmas, and have left Lionheart resting at Acre.

    I am so excited about your giveaway, I so much hope I can be the winner of a signed copy of Devil’s Brood (he-he).

    I also very much enjoyed the pictures shared by Fiona and Rhys, and did join both FB groups. I can understand your feelings Sharon, I did feel the same excitement to see Llywelyn’s royal standard flew over!

    Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year’s too. *H*U*G*S

  20. Rachel W. Says:

    I would love to win Devil’s Brood! Thanks so much for the giveaway!!

  21. Debbi Says:

    Thanks so much for the list of books. One of my most favorite things is to learn more about characters after having read a book.

    Merry Christmas!

  22. May Says:

    I want to join the chorus thanking Sharon for being such a delightful presence and her books, of course! Regarding Kindles, I am someone who also prefers a “real” book and was very anti-Kindle at first. But I received one as a birthday gift, and it is an amazing resource when you are traveling. I no longer have to lug around 5 pounds of books on long plane flights. I simply tuck my Kindle into my purse and off I go. I revert back to the old-fashioned books once I’m back home. In addition, the Kindle allows you to scan in documents and annotate them, which makes it very handy for work purposes. Just my two cents worth. :)

  23. Tiffany Says:

    Oh wow - my Christmas List just grew exponentially! Thank you so much - you are a talent that we are very lucky to have in the world of Historical Literature!

    Happy Holidays everyone!

  24. Amanda Says:

    Great books you mentioned. I have The Last Queen on my shelf to read and can’t wait. Thank you!

  25. Sandy Rosenberg Says:

    Reading this blog is getting expensive! Happy holidays to to Sharon and my fellow fans.

  26. Robin J Says:

    Loved the bit about Llywelyn’s banner! That is really amazing and I’ll have to check that out on Facebook!

  27. Carrie C Says:

    The Last Queen is definitely on my ‘to read’ list, and I’m excited to learn of By Sword and Fire. I’m fascinated by medieval warfare and it’ll be great to have a good resource on it!

  28. cindy ash Says:

    Koby, we live in a world where privacy is practically extinct. Im constantly amazed by the information people provide online and elsewhere, without a second thought as to the implications. I value my own privacy, even if others don’t, and I for one applaud and encourage any author, actor, artist of any kind to insist on privacy. Just because their work is in the public eye, doesn’t mean they and their family must be.

    Sharon, I’d dearly love a signed copy of Devil’s Brood. And thanks for the info on the Plantagent Chronicles!

    Happy Holidays to all of you, and Sharon, I hope you start feeling better soon!

  29. Heather Says:

    Happy holidays to you too! I have recently heard about the Devil’s Brood and I would love to enter for this. I have had The Last Queen on my list for a little while and I desperatly want to read it because I have always been interested in Juana la Loca!

    dolleygurl@hotmail.com

  30. April Says:

    Greetings of the season, to Sharon and to all!

    The Last Queen has moved up a few levels in my TBR pile, and I’ve now added The Plantagenet Chronicles to the list of books to track down. So many goodies out there!

    On the privacy topic, I agree with Koby and Cindy. The degree of interaction enabled by today’s technology and generous authors is a wonderful thing, yet very much a privilege. And it’s alarming how clueless and cavalier many people can be about their own privacy; and unfortunately, it then seems to follow that they have no respect for others who do value it.

    And the photos of the flying Welsh banner were amazing!

  31. Paula Says:

    Merry Christmas to all!

    Following on from what Christine mentioned, as well as The Plantagenet Chronicles I also have Chronicles of the Age of Chivalry and The Plantagenet Encyclopedia. All 3 books are edited by Elizabeth Hallam. The Plantagenet Encyclopedia is an alphabetical guide that has references to the other 2 books. The Chronicles of the Age of Chivalry covers from 1216 to 1377- it follows on from The Plantagenet Chronicles. They have beautiful covers and take pride of place on my best bookshelf- the same one that has my SKP novels. I would recommend getting all three.

    I think we all need to hold on to as much privacy as we can in this day and age. I don’t need to know anything more. But, having said that Sharon, I do like hearing about your pets.

  32. Miss Moppet Says:

    Ooh, please enter me for the draw!

    I’m another one who enjoyed The Last Queen. I’m also another one who prefers printed books to Kindles but it would be useful to have a Kindle for books which are hard to find except online. I have read a book on a laptop and it’s not so comfortable.

    Sharon, thank you so much for your book recommendations - they always go on my TBR list! I am reading Eleanor of Aquitaine, Lord and Lady, at the moment.

  33. Anne Says:

    As always, it’s a joy to read your posts. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

  34. Mandy Says:

    Thank you for the reading suggestions Sharon and I’d certainly second Plantagent Chronicles but will have to hunt down the others once I’ve finished Running Vixen - Elizabeth Chadwick’s reissue just out. I would love to have a signed copy of Devil’s Brood & pass my current copy on to a friend I’m busy converting into a fan.
    Best wishes for Christmas & a happier New Year without computer gremlins or pains.
    Mandy

  35. Koby Says:

    And today, Henry II was crowned King of England in Westminster.

  36. Kirsten Cutler Says:

    I recently finished reading your book and loved it so much that I bought my own copy. I would love to win an autographed copy then I can give away the copy I own to another appreciative reader.

    Oct. 10, 2009

    I am almost finished reading a fascinating historical fiction book, “Devil’s Brood” by Sharon Penman. It is about King Henry the Second, and his tempestuous relationships with his three older sons. Eleanor is the main character but the King and his sons provide the main drama with their constant disagreements. This is a dense read that is endlessly enthralling. I had to go to work this morning, or I would have finished the last few pages. Recommended highly!

    Reviewed from library copy.

    Posted by 4IQREAD at 2:43 PM 0 comments

    Labels:books, children Duchess of Aquitaine, historical fiction, King Henry II

  37. C.W. Gortner Says:

    A special thank you to Sharon, a new and dear friend, for mentioning my novel The Last Queen here; to share my work with her has been a tremendous honor, as I’ve been a fan for years. Next time I see you, Sharon, I have to get all my first editions signed! :)

    Thanks also to those of you who read The Last Queen and posted here about how much you enjoyed it. I am humbled and delighted by your praise. I hope that readers continue to find pleasure in my work for years to come.

    A very happy holidays to you, and a safe and healthy New Year!

  38. Mary Gardner Says:

    Merry Christmas, Sharon. I hope your computer mends its ways in the new year - I’m anxious to read more about Richard.

  39. Jenny Says:

    Merry Christmas, Sharon!

    Thank you for taking the time amidst your back and computer troubles to keep posting!

  40. Mandy Says:

    What a great giveaway! I’d love to win a signed copy of ANY of your books :)
    I loved The Last Queen, too! Good recommendation.
    Hope you have a Merry Christmas - and no more computer troubles!

  41. Jeremy Says:

    I have no need for information about the private lives of authors (nor of my favorite musicians, athletes, actors, etc). I love the fact that favorite authors of mine such as Sharon and Elizabeth Chadwick interact with their readers so much and that is more than enough for me. In fact, I think it is downright amazing that they take the time to do this, and none of us should take it for granted! I don’t think we are entitled to any private information whatsoever. Seriously, even this Tiger Woods coverage is bs (or Jon and Kate, or any number of others). He may be a celebrity, but he should still be entitled to privacy. I don’t care what he did…it’s none of my business.

    Anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all of my fellow SKP readers and of course to Sharon herself!

  42. Grace Skelton Says:

    alright sharon!
    i read the last queen a few months ago and i thought it was amazing, and i decided to watch the spanish flim ‘juana la loca’ (mad love), have to say i was disappointed but probably because i cant speak spanish. i’d LOVE copy of the devils brood! haha anyway hope youre alright and thanks again for making it all a bit easier.
    happy xmas and happy new year!
    g x

  43. Cate Cushing Says:

    I actually just remembered a question I have been meaning to ask you. I’m not sure if you have answered this but will we be seeing more of Ranulf in ‘Lionheart’?

  44. Dave Says:

    Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda, Sharon!

    Are you digging out yet? I was just in NJ for my sisters wedding, and barely made it home from the reception as I95, and route 1 were awful. Oh well, at least we’ll have a white christmas.

    Iechyd da,

    Dave

  45. Suzanne Ball Says:

    I love Margaret Frazer and both her characters: Joliffe and Dame Frevisse - good “I can’t put it down” reads. Thanks for the info on the new book. Many, many years ago, when I was a wee lass we lived in France and one of my fondest memories was visiting Carcassone - will have to revive my memory on Raimond. Thanks and enjoy the holidays - rest lots - merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

  46. Maudeen Wachsmith Says:

    I have just discovered your blog here and am enjoying it very much. Please sign this procrastinator up for your drawing. Devil’s Brood has been on my wish list forever!

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  48. Glynis Says:

    I just found your blog and I’m so thrilled. One of my favorite parts of your books are your notes at the end (an odd thing to love, I know) and this is like reading lots of those notes. That’s why I think your such a great author, everything word in the whole book is worth reading.

  49. Blair Hodgkinson Says:

    Hi Sharon… I doubt my bookshelf is impressive as yours, but it sounds like we have a few common volumes! Hallam’s Plantagenet Chronicles, Miller’s Richard the Lionheart, McGlynn’s By Sword And Fire, for instance.

    I may have missed it, but I did not notice if John Gillingham’s Richard I (or his Richard the Lionheart) was on any of your recommended reading lists. I think he has done more to rehabilitate Richard’s reputation than any other historian.

    One figure of the times I find of particular interest is Bishop St. Hugh of Lincoln. I have a biography by David Hugh Farmer which is quite short but interesting, and I would recommend it to any of your readers interested in exploring the lives of King Henry or Richard’s contemporaries. This was a fellow who stood out against the anti-semitic riots at the beginning of Richard’s reign and was publicly mourned by both Christians and Jews upon his death. He would not hesitate to upbraid a king and there are wonderful stories of how he reprimanded Henry, Richard and John and escaped serious consequence by sheer power of personality.

    I have to agree with Glynis above… I always enjoy your author’s notes too!

  50. MB Says:

    Sharon - I always enjoy your blog posts; love the updates on your work and the book recommendations. I hope you continue to write and post, and I wish you better health in 2010.

  51. Heidi Says:

    Sharon - I just recently discovered your blog, but have been a big fan of your writing ever since I picked up Here Be Dragons at my mother’s recommendation.

    I have to agree with your comments on Kindles. Curling up on the couch in blankets with a fire going in winter, a Kindle in my hands… just doesn’t feel right. Its missing the break in the spine at my favorite parts, the little slips of paper that always timestamp my last readings… a Kindle could never be my old friend the way many of my books are. I’m a pretty young person and quite savvy about technology, so I think there is still hope for books and Kindle’s to co-exist peacefully!

    Also, I thought your readers might be interested in knowing about the Carcassonne board game that I play with my family. Its a strategic game about building and controlling medieval villages that is a lot of fun to play!

  52. Elizabeth Chadwick Says:

    Hi Sharon,
    I’ve just been using the Hallam Plantagenet Chronicles myself. They’re an excellent resource aren’t they? I also read and loved The Last Queen this summer - a very entertaining novel C.W. and about an off the beaten track character. I am going to get hold of the Sean Mcglynn, although his conclusions don’t surprise me in the least.
    As to author privacy. I think some things are for sharing - as one would with casual friends and acquaintances, and some things are not. You might find pictures of me, my pets and (very rarely) my husband on photos on my blog, but you’ll never find pictures of my sons or hear stories about them. You might find occasional vignettes of life chez Chadwick on an online forum where I hang out to have fun, but it’s fairly superficial. One has to maintain a certain level of privacy - even while one is rummaging in the very personal cupboards of one’s chosen characters!!!

  53. Megan Sneary Says:

    Sharon - Happy Holidays and thank you again for sharing so much with your readers. I am thrilled to be able to “pick your brain” about good reads - and don’t feel the need to know more than you are willing to share. Thank you also for your giveaways - what a treat!
    I am a proud Kindle owner and as a mother to two young children - it’s about the only way I can steal time away to read! I carry mine everywhere! I have my sacred favorite books that I own and am able to lend out to the lucky worthy but I also have copies on kindle so I can read them too. I am completely unable to break a spine on a book or to write in one. But with the kindle I don’t have to worry about the former and can make all the notes I want and bookmark any section!
    I also love the Kindle feature of the Sample. I can get the first X number of pages for free to see if I like the author’s voice or take on a particular subject before purchasing it. That’s huge when you read as many new authors as I do! I use that to get people I know to check out your stuff - and they ALWAYS end up purchasing the whole book! :)
    I really appreciate your willingness to have your books available on kindle!
    I send you all the best wishes for a wonderful and computer glitch free new year!!!
    Megan

  54. Koby Says:

    And today, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and later Saint was born.

  55. Pen Says:

    Merry Christmas Sharron. Hope you have a pain free holiday!

    I love the blog, thanks for sharing your insight and adventures with your fans. I have a book called “Warriors of God” which is about Saladin and King Richard - an easy and interesting read. Have you read this one?

  56. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Hi, Pen,
    I am glad that you are enjoying the blog. I find it is a lot of fun and a wonderful way to interact with my readers. I feel I should tell you, though, that I think the Reston book, Warriors of God, is very unreliable and I would not recommend it. If you are interested in reading an academic analysis of its historical inaccuracies and flaws, you can go to the excellent website De Re Militari, for the Society for Medieval Military History, click onto their book reviews and find a critical review that mirrors my own objections to this book. BTW, this is a wonderful website for anyone interested in the MA and that would include everyone reading this blog! If you are interested in Saladin, Pen, the classic study remains Saladin, the Politics of the Holy War, by Malcolm Cameron Lyons and D. E. P. Jackson. I would also suggest one of the books I recommended in this blog, Geoffrey Regan’s Lionhearts. And the definitive biography of Richard himself is the one by John Gillingham, published in 1999; he wrote an earlier book 20 years before that which cannot hold a candle to the subsequent comprehensive study. In fact, I have quite a few other books about the complex, contradictory character known to history as the Lionheart which I will be happy to recommend in my next blog. But most definitely not Blondel’s Song, which commits the cardinal sin of presenting the author’s speculations as irrefutable fact. Historical novelists have to “fill in the blanks” quite often. For example, I had to pick a birthdate for the son born to Richard III and Anne Neville and to select a site for the wedding of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth and King John’s daughter Joanna, and in Lionheart I have to give a name to the Damsel of Cyprus since none of the chronclers so fascinated by this young woman thought to mention her name. But I do not believe that historians or authors of non-fiction can or should rely upon their imaginations like that. It is not being fair to their readers.
    Sorry for the rant. I guess being snowbound is making me cranky. As regular blog readers well know, I tend to get obsessive-compulsive about research. Unfortunately I am just as demanding when it comes to films about the MA, so you don’t want to know my opinion of Braveheart or Kingdom of Heaven! But just to be contrary, The Lion in Winter is not historically accurate either, but I still think it is a great film.

  57. Ken Says:

    Hi Sharon

    I just watched a Channel 4 Time Team film about the recent renovations at Dover Castle, with the team trying to furnish it as closely as possible to how Henry 11 would have had it. Absolutely fabulous! I am not sure if those of you outside the UK will be able to watch the film, but just in case, this is the link:
    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/time-team-specials/episode-guide/series-1/episode-4

    If you cannot see it, you could google Dover Castle on the net and you will see other images of the furnishings. Incredibly vivid colours to the wall hangings and painted furniture!

    When the film tours the finished main (King’s) Hall and private appartments, you won’t need much imagination to see your Henry pacing about muttering about his Devil’s Brood!!

  58. Kurt Laidlaw Says:

    Sharon,
    Thanks for the wonderful book suggestions (with time left before Christmas!). Thanks even more for telling us about the Rhys Jones page on Facebook. I am so envious of your trip to Carcassonne. While I have walked in the towns and villages of the 100 Years War, I have yet to make it to southern France. There is still time when I retire though, so I haven’t given up hope.

    I hope the Demon Spawn will give you respite for the rest of the year.

  59. Lyn Says:

    Dear Sharon,

    I have finally caught up on all of your blog and am so glad to have found it! What an enjoyable and knowledgeable way to spend my time distracting myself from writing holiday cards! Thank you so much for your time and effort, both here and with your books. I look forward to being able to catch up on them when I return to the States in the spring - they’re hard to find her in Taiwan!

  60. Mike Says:

    Sharon,

    I’m really looking forward to rereading the first two books of Henry & Eleanor and finally getting to The Devil’s Brood. Also looking forward to Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Greatest Knight.

  61. Noreen Says:

    Merry Christmas!

  62. Lesley Says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the new Joliffe novel - I read that in a day and loved every minute of it. So good to be able to dive headfirst into a book and not surface until it is done!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and I wish you good health and happiness for 2010!

  63. Koby Says:

    And today, Berengaria of Navarre, Richard’s Queen died.

  64. Ken Says:

    If you have had no luck with my link to the Dover Castle film, you might try this link to some BBC still photos of the castle:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/8177969.stm

  65. Heather (Riverside, CA) Says:

    Hello Sharon, I would love to win a copy of Devil’s Brood! I just finished reading it last night and returned it to the library this morning. This is my first visit to your blog site and I made my first comment on your first blog entry, just a little while ago; I suppose I should have started here instead. But I know I will be very entertained catching up on all your blog entries.

    Let me thank you for your wonderful author’s notes. I look forward to them at the end of every book and I for one would NOT complain if they were (much) longer.

    Let me also add my words of sympathy about the state of your back. Is it operable? My dad had a ruptured disc (or 2?) about 20 years ago and a very successful surgery. It was pure misery for a while though. I hope you find a lasting solution.

    Looking forward to the rest of your description of your trip; my husband’s family came from Carcassonne in the early 20th c.

    Many thanks for your wonderful books and Merry Christmas!

  66. Jane Says:

    Hello Sharon

    As you may remember, I have been a fan of yours since ‘Sunne’ - I’m the crazy one that sent a letter to you in care of the ‘Sunne’ publisher, long before the days of emails, blogs, etc.! I really enjoyed ‘Devil’s Brood and am looking forward to the continued adventures of The Lionheart.

    Enjoy the Holidays and all the best to you in 2010.

  67. Mary Lou Dudley Says:

    Dear Sharon, I so love to read your books. I ha ve every book. I look forward to the book about Richard. I feel much sympathy for your back.
    I travelled to Carcasonne 53 years ago. As part of a European college tour our driver drove the bus all the way to the hotel. Our bus did not touch the walls, but only by a 1/2 inch on erach side. I would love to go back there.

  68. Karen Bice Says:

    Sharon,
    Thanks for many hours of pleasure that comes from reading your books. Devil’s Brood is one book that is on my MUST READ list as I have already read the first two books in the trilogy. Have a great Christmas!

  69. Suzanne Says:

    Hi Sharon,
    I really appreciate all the book recommendations, although, I have to say, it would take a full-time job just to keep up with them all! I’ve actually been out of the middle ages for a while because I’ve been following some of your recommendations to ancient Rome (so far just Colleen McCullough’s books). I will come back to the MA before too long though. I finally had a chance to look at the BBC trial of Richard III that you pointed to ages ago from FB, so now I’m sort of wishing I could go back to him again… So much to read, so little time! I enjoyed hearing about Llewellyn’s banner flying again!

    Merry Christmas to you and Richard!

  70. Chris Hunt Says:

    Sharon,
    I enjoy seeing your suggestions.
    When I was interviewed for my job in a library, I was asked what I read. I said Sharon Kaye Penman. That was 15 years ago and you are still the author I would name.
    Merry Christmas and thank you!
    Chris

  71. Sharon K Penman Says:

    I want to wish all of my blog readers a peaceful Christmas and to thank you for making this blog so much fun.

  72. Koby Says:

    And today, it’s Christmas. So Merry Christmas, everybody. Also, today William I was crowned King of England.

  73. Jennifer Luetz Says:

    God Jul och Gott Nytt År from Sweden, Sharon.
    I am trying to find the photo you mentioned of that banner, but alas, no luck. Can you post a link again ? I cannot find the facebook site about Wales either. Maybe I am doing something wrong.

  74. Deborah Shaw Says:

    I recently re-read all your books in historical order, and while I was reading about Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s death, I realized the date was December 11th. It was eerie.

    Thank you for running the drawing. It’s generous. I’m charmed by Justin de Quincy and anxious for the fifth mystery, but I understand that Richard must come first. The book I should replace is the _Sunne in Splendour,_ the one I just finished. My 1982 trade paperback is the shabbiest book I own. The cover is completely detached, the spine torn, the glue chipped away, and the folios are in separate clumps of one to thirty pages–but all there and all in order.

    Sad to hear about your back. Can you use a Balans chair?

  75. Deborah Shaw Says:

    I hadn’t read your November post yet when I posted about the Balans chair. A plane ride over the ocean, then root canal? How awful. If you want to find some humor in this, watch an episode of the _West Wing_ called “Celestial Navigation.” It’s entertaining even if you’re not familiar with the characters. It’s maybe the ninth or thirteenth episode of the show’s first season.

    When you were researching _Devil’s Brood,_ did you find more information about Eleanor’s siblings and can you point me to a source in English? I’ve always been curious about her half-brothers William and Jocelin. In her biographies, they’re always mentioned together–were they full brothers? Were they much older or much younger than Eleanor and Petronilla?

    I can’t get to my books at the moment, but I recall being confused when one of your author’s notes said you’d made a belated discovery that Petronilla died before ca1152, and since you’d already written her character beyond that, you left it. I’d assumed Raoul had divorced Petronilla around 1152, not that she’d died, because I also have a dim memory of reading in one of Eleanor’s biographies–probably Meade, perhaps Kelly–that all three had gone to England with the royal household in 1154, and later (1156?) that payments on behalf of Petronilla and William were mentioned in the Pipe Rolls. I also remember adding the last to the bio’s existing index references–and oddly that I used a purple Pilot razorpoint pen. So I probably didn’t dream this, and it must have been Meade. I would never dare write in Kelly except with a Carmen red Col-Erase pencil.

  76. Katelyn Anne Batesel Says:

    I sympathize with your computer troubles; my computer’s name is Katesbane. But on a happier note, I got the entire Welsh series for Christmas, YAY!!!!
    So my counselor interviewed me in order to write a letter of recommendation for a scholarship and we ended up talking about your books and Richard III. I said that in your version Richard was an absolute paragon of chivalry and decency (I didn’t mention that 90% of my admiration stems from him being 1,000 times more awesome that any silly vampire, scholarship committees probably don’t want to hear about my teenage crushes, you know?). In the letter she wrote for me she mentioned how he taught me about these things, but that maybe that was because he was the absolute antithesis of those ideals, seems she was afraid the committee members would be biased, what with Shakespeare and all. Poor Richard, still being slandered even in MY letter of recomendation:( but on the up side, she compared me to a white rose, so I just tell people that it’s because I’m a true daughter of York:) I figure it’ll help me rock the nerd factor at the interview.

  77. Julianne Douglas Says:

    Thank you for the book suggestions. I, too, heartily recommend Gortner’s The Last Queen.

    Please enter me in the drawing–I’d love to win a copy of Devil’s Brood! Thanks very much.

  78. Ken Says:

    Hi, Sharon, I hope you had a great Christmas.

    I had started going through my data base of research papers (New Year resolution!) and I came across “The unromantic death of Richard 1″ by John Gillingham, which contains the following quote from Sir Maurice Powicke’s book, ‘The Loss of Normandy’:

    “A few significant charters show that, even during the period of the truce, Philip was receiving the allegiance of the discontented lords of Angouleme and the Limousin. It was not, however, in chastising them, but in a subsidiary quarrel, that Richard met his death. Someone came upon a relic of Gallo-Roman paganism in the territory of the lord of Chalus; and rumour magnified the discovery into a find of great wealth. The King claimed the treasure and marched to enforce his claim. It is sad to reflect that Richard died in such a sordid quarrel. Yet he was fighting for his
    regalia, and the incident is symbolic of his whole career; his mind had burned with the same enthusiasm to rescue the Holy Sepulchre. In this case his imagination was kindled by a useless relic of antiquity.”

    Gillingham discusses the various accounts (chroniclers of the time and 20th century historians) of Richard’s death and whether it came while he was searching for the treasure of Chalus or not.

    I wonder if you have a copy of this paper. If not, I can email it to you. I’ll post this on your Facebook page as well!

  79. Paula Says:

    Ken,
    The photos of Dover castle all ‘done up’ were magnificent. I definitely have to go there again. Thanks for putting up the link and thankyou for all the time and effort you put in to the things you share with us.

    Koby,
    I also want to thank you for all your posts about the dates that significant events occurred. I enjoy reading them.

  80. Sharon K Penman Says:

    I second Paula’s thanks to both Ken and Koby. The photos are wonderful and it is fun to discover what obscure medieval fact Koby has unearthed for us.
    Ken, yes, I have the Gillingham article, thank you. For years, this treasury story was one of the many myths trailing in Richard’s wake, but thanks to Gillingham’s scholarship, few if any historians today still give it credence. He was at Chalus to punish a rebelious vassal, not to claim a treasure–though medieval kings were always happy to find new ways to refill their depleted coffers! The vassal in question was the Viscount of Limoges, who is one of the characters in Devil’s Brood, you may recall. He was fortunate enough not to have been at Chalus himself when it fell to Richard’s men, but the usually reliable Roger de Hoveden claims that Richard’s son later killed him as revenge for his father’s death. While that would make a wonderfully dramatic ending to Lionheart, there is no proof of this, alas. Viscount Amaury did die fairly soon afterward, but it is very unlikely that such a death could have passed unnoticed. It is interesting, though, that such a rumor was floating about and that it reached Roger in the north of England. BTW, almost nothing is known about Richard’s son apart from his name–Philip–and the fact that Richard apparently made an advantageous marriage for him with the heiress of Cognac. He appears briefly in John’s Pipe Rolls and then disappears from history. And no, he was not named after Philippe, the French king! He was born years before Richard’s political alliance with Philippe in 1187. Speaking of Richard’s legends, I recommend Richard Coeur de Lion in History and Myth, edited by Janet Nelson. It has an excellent analysis of Richard’s military career by J. O. Prestwich, an article about Eleanor by Jane Martindale, and one by Gillingham examining the development of many of these Ricardian myths.

  81. Linda Says:

    For a good one-volume history of the Albigensian “heresy” for the general reader, I recommend “A Perfect Heresy” by Stephen O’Shea, which seems pretty fair-minded. Available in paperback.

  82. Koby Says:

    Yesterday (the 27th), Anne de Mortimer, mother of Richard, Duke of York, and grandmother to Edward IV and Richard III was born. Also (and probably more importantly), yesterday was the Feast of John the Apostle, and according to Sharon, the birth of King John I of England.
    Sharon, Paula, you’re both quite welcome. In fact, I feel I should thank you, and any others who are actually interested in this.
    And Sharon, I’ve looked anywhere I could, but cannot find any logical records on Pertonilla. Some say Raoul divorced her - but if he loved her enough to desert his wife for her, why would he do that? Would you be willing to clear this up, and tell us what you know of her life?

  83. Koby Says:

    And today, Saint Thomas Becket was killed in his own cathedral in Canterbury.

  84. Teresa Ballard Says:

    Thanks, Koby for the significant dates in history. I’m very interested to learn that I share a birthday with Anne de Mortimer and possibly King John I. I am addicted to this blog and its comments! I always learn such interesting things. Thanks, everybody!

  85. Matt P. Says:

    Happy Holidays, Sharon! I have a question about your research on the Crusades for LIONHEART. Has it been refreshing, or frustrating, or somewhere in between, to research the medieval Middle East, an area you haven’t had to deal with in great depth in your novels thus far? I’d imagine it can be thrilling and challenging to build characters like Saladin who emerged from a totally different culture from those you’ve typically dealt with in England, Wales and France.

    Thanks! And I’ll recuse myself from the drawing; I’m happy to have had the chance to attend one of your signings and got DEVIL’S BROOD autographed in person!

  86. Koby Says:

    And today was the Battle of Wakefield, where Lancaster defeated York, and Richard, Duke of York and his son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland were killed.

  87. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Hi, Matt. That is a very interesting question. It has probably been easier for me than it would otherwise have been because I’ve wanted for several years to write a novel about the real Balian of Ibelin (not Orlando Bloom’s blacksmith in King of Heaven!) So by the time I got the green light to do Lionheart, I already had an extensive library about the Kingdom of Jerusalem and was fairly familiar with the era and life in Outremer. Balian’s book has been a blessing in another way–because the crusade was only a part of Richard’s life, albeit the defining event, I cannot focus in depth upon secondary characters to the extent that I’d have liked. For example, Saladin may not even appear himself since he and Richard never met, despite Richard’s persistent attempts to arrange a meeting. Now this would be very frustrating to me if I didn’t know that Saladin would be a major character in Balian’s book. The same is true for Conrad of Montferrat. The view of him in Lionheart is inevitably going to be negative since he and Richard were adversaries and the reader will usually see him through Richard’s eyes. But he was an ally of Balian and Balian’s wife, so he will appear more multi-dimensional in Balian’s book. I will also be able to delve more into the lifestyle of the Poulains, the term used to describe “Franks” born in Outremer like Balian. Whereas Richard was only there from June of 1191 until October of 1192 and his time there revolved around his military adventures, many of which were spectacular; this is where the legends of the Lionheart really took root. And to keep from disturbing my publishers by turning in a 1,500 page book, I will have, of necessity, to hew to the path laid out for me, with few digressions. If I were not going to get a “second chance” at Outremer and these historical figures, I’d be feeling extremely frustrated. As it is, I’ve probably spent more time than I should researching medieval Sicily and Cyprus. But I needed to familiarize myself with these “alien” cultures. Moreover, their history was fascinating in and of itself!

    Koby, thanks for the reminder that today was the battle of Wakefield; I’d actually forgotten that myself. This was the first time I’d had to kill one of my characters, the first time that I’d discovered how emotionally draining it can be. Had I known what a blood-stained road lay ahead of me, I may have been tempted to keep practicing law!

  88. cindyash Says:

    Wait, you killed off Simon Montfort etc on Evesham, right? Tho, do you mean a fictional character?

    Oh, I’d love to read a book by you about the Outmeir! Ive had a taste of it, with Judith Tarr’s Queen of Swords, and EC’s book Falcons of Montbard, so I am eager for more. Is this indeed in the works, or just an idea?

  89. maritza Says:

    Hi, Sharon & her readers. I just finished Devil’s Brood and, to me, the most bittersweet scene was Geoffrey’s death. He definitely was the most intriguing son of the Brood–loved how he and Constance forged an uneasy alliance which turned into a love match! I must say I don’t like Richard very much, so far…egotistical and self-important and way too big for his britches! I’m anticipating your next book and hoping I’ll learn to like him more. I’m not a fan of historical figures that “warmongered” for the love of war and conquest; I have much more respect for those that didn’t run from a necessary fight but tried to steer clear of war for war’s sake. Must be the late 60’s “hippy/peacenik” in me!
    Sharon, have you or any of your readers read Ellen Jones’ books–Fatal Crown about Maud & Stephen and Beloved Enemy about Eleanor? I’m curious as to your impressions. She cites a love/betrayal/hate relationship with Maud and Stephen that was curious. I read the books before I read your Maud/Henry II trilogy. I’d be interested to hear your comments and any of your readers that have read Jones’ novels. Of course, I see now that your meticulous, impeccable research is not present in nearly enough works of historical fiction. The way I see it, this only enhances the finished story if it’s presented in an entertaining and interesting format. Your books have always captured that perfect curve of factual accuracy and entertainment which is the sweet spot of the historical fiction genre!
    Wishing you and your readers a happy New Year and may 2010 bring peace, health, and prosperity–and more of your amazing novels!

  90. Dave Says:

    Sharon,

    I have a great article on Richard III, from BBC History Magazine. If you’d like I could send it to you. Without giving the details away, it gives a new perspective as to why the Stanley’s betrayed Richard at Bosworth. If you’d like to see it send your address to my email, and I’ll send a copy on to you. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda(Happy New Year).

    Iechyd Da,

    Dave

  91. Nan hawthorne Says:

    Love Sharon’s blog?

    Nominate it and any other historical fiction or fact blogs you love at http://historicalnovelblogs.blogspot.com .

    Deadline for nominations: january 10

    Thanks!

    Historical Blogs: Fiction & Fact

  92. Koby Says:

    And today, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury was executed after being captured in the Battle of Wakefield.

  93. Ken Says:

    Hey Koby!

    It didn’t make the BBC News! lol!

    Happy New Year to you, SKP and all her fans!

  94. Ashlea Says:

    Hello Sharon!

    I discovered your blog while researching your name on someone else’s behalf. My boyfriend (unfortunately there really isn’t a suitable label for this type of relationship when you reach 30+ years old!) patiently awaits the release of each of your novels, as he is an incredibly devoted fan of your work. I was searching online to see when we might anticipate a new novel being released. I am so sorry to hear about your back!! I am in the medical field and worked two years in pain management. Back pain can be debilitating and pain of any kind can make it extremely difficult to sleep, focus, and concentrate. It can make it almost impossible to work effectively, especially doing something creative such as writing. I hope you recover soon!

    I just wanted to pass along some praise of your work. My boyfriend received his degree in history (from Southwest Texas State - just down the road from UT) and thus appreciates that well-researched, accurate historic facts that are interwoven into a captivating and well-written text of multidimensional characters is a formula for a fine historical novel. This is both a task that requires a special talent and a task that is incredibly time-consuming. I see that he is impressed by how life-like these historical figures become under the direction of your pen and by your devotion to the accuracy of the historical facts you present in your works. I’m not sure exactly how many times he has read each one, but more than a few appear tattered around the edges and he seems quite hesitant to loan out any of them.

    Needless to say, it is a blessing that you moved beyond the world of tax law. I can’t imagine your finding the same fulfillment and satisfaction in that career as you have over the past 20+ years bringing history to life. Besides, you have brought enlightenment, enjoyment, escape, and adventure to countless people across the globe!

    Happy New Year!

    P.S. We live in Austin and I read that you went to UT for undergrad. We have a lot of Longhorn family!! Some family members went there for undergrad and 5 out of our 6 attorney family members went to UT Law School!

  95. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Hi, Ashlea. Thank you for letting me know you and your boyfriend (signifcant other? the medieval leman?) enjoy my writing. I have very fond memories of Austin, where I fell in love for the first time and made some very dear friends and became a die-hard Longhorns fan and even went to enough classes to get a degree in history. And yes, I feel blessed that I am able to besiege castles for a living instead of writing legal briefs.
    I want to wish all our blog “family” a safe New Year’s Eve, and hope that the new year will be a good one for all of us on Planet Earth. Here’s a heart-warming story to see 2009 out, about an American soldier and an Iraqi dog. Not medieval, but universal. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33585208/

  96. Mystica Says:

    Thanks for all the information. I do not know whether overseas readers are allowed in this giveaway but if they are please count me in.

    All the very best for the New Year

  97. shirley Says:

    This is my first introductin to your books. I am an avid reader and wanted tocomment on your possibly using the Kindle. I am legally blind and until I was given a Kindle for a present by my dear husband, Bob, I had problems finding books I wanted to read in large print. Not only are books not printed thus, they are also much heavier and more expensive. A Kindle is costly to purchase, but more than pays for itself when you can buy books for an average of ten dollars or less. This wonderful devise will also read to me, should my eyesight go away.
    I look forward to buying as many of your books as possible if you allow Amazon to Kindlize them!! God Bless you in 2010!!

  98. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Hi, Shirley. Welcome aboard. Unfortunately, writers have no say when it comes to Kindle or other devices like Sony Reader. We’d all be delighted to have our books available to the widest possible audience, but such decisions are made by publishers and/or Amazon. For example, none of my books are in the audio format and there is nothing I can do about that. Most of them are available on Kindle, though. I know Sunne is, and I think Dragons and “Shadow and The Reckoning are, too. Time and Chance and Devil’s Brood are Kindle books, and I was told that Saints would be on Kindle, too, though I am not sure if it is done yet. I know Prince of Darkness is on Kindle. I was recently told that the first two mysteries are not available as Barnes and Noble e-books, though Dragon’s Lair and Darkness are. I was also told that while Saints will be available on Kindle, it will be restricted to that format. Again, I had no say in any of these decisions…sigh. If I find out anything more, I will definitely let you know. I agree with you, think Kindle is a wonderful option for people with visual problems; it is also great for traveling.

  99. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Hi, Shirley. Me again. I just checked on Amazon, and all of my books are available on Kindle except Saints, and the first two mysteries, The Queen’s Man and Cruel as the Grave. I was assured that Saints was going to be available on Kindle, though they do seem to be taking a long time to do so; for reasons too complicated to go into, the decision to make it a Kindle book is one made between Amazon and Google Books! I don’t know about plans for the first two mysteries, will see what I can find out. And I don’t know how many of the books are available in Sony Reader, etc. That is something I’ll have to look into, also. As you get a chance to read my books, I hope you’ll tell me what you think. If you don’t like them, feel free to lie to me.

  100. Brenda Turner Says:

    I love all your books and re read them until I feel I am there in the book - fantastic stuff. I just so wish someone would make a film of Llewelyn’s life, there have been no noteworthy films about Welsh history, especially this era. We have enough really good Welsh actors/actresses to make it fantastically good, and of course using your book.

  101. Koby Says:

    And Today, Catherine of Valois, the wife of Henry V (or VI), died.

  102. Irma Hale Says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I doubt you’ll remember, but we met in Florida years ago at a book signing and corresponded for a while before I headed off to the South Pole. I have loved your books for many years and have re-read most all of them. I thought you’d like to know that I took several books down to the Antarctic and left them in the McMurdo Station Library. Hopefully they are still there and being enjoyed. I’ve only recently discovered your web page and blog so I’m trying to read through all of it and get caught up on everything. I have spent my summers in north Wales since 1996. I travel as much as possible while there, but my home base is Beddgelert where I have a great many friends. I have Welsh and English ancestors and can trace my family to many of the characters in your books, which makes them even more interesting.

    In response to Brenda Turner, I would love to see a film of any/all of your books, but I’m certain they would each have to be a long mini-series, which I’m sure would please all of your fans immensely.

    I wish you all the best in the coming year.

    Irma

  103. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Hi, Irma. Of course I remember you–how many friends do you think I have who go off to the South Pole? That automatically put you in the “memorable” list! I love the idea of a few of my books being left behind. You ought to go to my Facebook Fan Club page; it is open to all, so you don’t have to join Facebook to see it. Readers have been posting the most spectacular photos of Wales, and since you’ve been there, you’ll really appreciate them.
    I hope to have a new blog up by week’s end; it has been delayed by the illness of my beloved shepherd, Cody, who is waging a gallant fight against old age. So there are a few more days left to post a comment and enter the contest to win a copy of Devil’s Brood.

  104. Kristen Elizabeth Says:

    Thanks for another great blog, Sharon! I swear, my to-read list is going to hit critical mass soon–every time I come here, I add more books to them! Gortner’s novel about Juana La Loca sounds fascinating, as does the McGlynn book on mediaeval warfare. I will be picking those up as soon as I can.

    I look forward to reading more about Raimond de St. Giles. It is always interesting to learn about people who broke the mold for their time, and it sounds like he did with his religious tolerance.

    I hope you had a happy holiday season! I’m still recovering… :)

  105. Anya Darr Says:

    If this is a repeat I am sorry only I pressed submit and it didn’t.

    I was just hoping you could contact the BBC and persuade them to make some of your wonderful books instead of their obsession with remaking over and over again the Tudors, Queen Victoria, Jane Austin and Dickens…..love them all but we don’t need MORE of these.

    The wonderful actor Richard Armitage wants to do Richard 111 as inspired by the Sunne in Splendor…has he been in touch?

    Also the Welsh trilogy would make a fantastic serial and help the people of Great Britian to remember that Wales has its own special history. (and no I am not Welsh)!

    Start a petition up on your web site and lets see some drama that deals with a different period in History PLEASE!

  106. Koby Says:

    And today, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, John’s son was born, Edward the Confessor died, and Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, husband to Margaret of York was killed in battle.

  107. Koby Says:

    And today, Harold Godwinson was crowned King of England.

  108. Koby Says:

    I just wanted to mention that on the today (according to the Hebrew Calendar) is the date Maimonides died. It’s just a personal thing, mostly: he was a great influence on the my ancestors, and is still greatly respected by us. The possible connection to Sharon’s books is that he was Saladin’s personal doctor.

  109. cindyash Says:

    I learned about him in college, he was an amazing brillant man. Funny how much I learned about the Rebs of my past, not realizing at the time that they probably had connections with the same people I enjoy reading about now. It might not be a bad idea to go back and find some of my notes and start making some links between them.

  110. Ken Says:

    Hi Sharon,

    While cruising the internet, I came across this site which might interest you. It contains details of Berengaria’s crusade as well as those of other queens. You might already have it, but then again maybe not?

    http://www.archive.org/stream/heroinesofcrusad00blosuoft#page/218/mode/2up

  111. cindyash Says:

    Sharon, thank you for recommending Plantagenet Chronicles. I just received my order from Powells, with a lovely copy of the book. Wonderful to browse through and look at the medival maps, illustrations and paintings, as well as modern photos of various places. Plus reading the chronicles, and the authro’s notes were esp interesting. This is a book I will refer to often, I think, esp as it has a decent index!

  112. Sharon K Penman Says:

    I am sorry but I don’t know when I’ll be able to post a new blog. Nor am I able to receive or send e-mails, so the only way to contact me on=line is to post here or on my Facebook page or Fan Club page, which is accessible to the general public, whether they are Facebook members or not. Demon-Spawn has struck again and is no longer operating at all.

  113. Arwen Says:

    I have been fascinated by medieval history since I read Costain’s Plantagenet series and Anya Seton’s “Katharine” as a teenager, and became particularly interested in Eleanor de Montfort, countess of Leicester, as a hobby while I was in college. I was working on a novel about her myself, to bring this unusual woman’s history to wider attention — did a lot of research in the Close Rolls and Patent Rolls as well as the standard contemporary sources like Matthew Paris’ chronicles (and not just within the period of her life but also expanded into those of her forebears and descendants), as well as visiting Pembroke, Kenilworth, Odiham, Montargis and dozens of other places important in their lives — but the demands of everyday real life caused the process to be so slow that you wrote my book before I could! While my conclusions about Eleanor’s character and life events differ slightly in a few places from yours, your presentation of her was so close to what I’d been working on that I judged my purpose had been served. Thank you for bringing her, and all your other Plantagenet period cast, to life in your outstanding books!!!

    I would also like you to know that when my son at age 10 became too old for children’s books, but still liked to be read to at bedtime, the Sunne in Splendour was the book I selected to read to him as his first grownup story (suitably edited in a few spots for a 10-year-old’s sensibilities). It inspired a lifelong love of both reading and history in him. So I must also thank you for that.

    I just finished Devil’s Brood and would like to say that however difficult you may have found writing it, I think it is far and away your best-written novel. It is a riveting, coherent, compelling and fresh telling of many of the better-known legends of the era, which I can appreciate took a lot of time and effort to craft. I also wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your medieval mysteries and would love for you to write more of them!

    I have two questions I hope you will be kind enough to answer. The first is just something that piqued my interest from Devil’s Brood. In chapter 49, you present a monk named Brother Euddogwy Huybeerecht, of Welsh and Flemish descent, and you write that prince John’s knights jokingly insist on calling him Euddogwy fitz Huybeerecht. It made me wonder if you wrote this little background vignette in order to hint to perspicacious readers that Huybeerecht was the origin name of the fitz Herbert family of Pembrokeshire? The second is much more general. I’ve become very informed about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) as a result of numerous family members having ADD, and it has seemed to me for a long time that most of the Plantagenets, especially the earlier generations, exhibited an awful lot of ADD traits. Henry III, in particular, seems very hard to explain any other way. Have you ever considered this possibility, and if so does it influence your characterizations about them at all?

    Finally, I very much appreciate your reading recommendations, and hope that you will continue to offer them as appropriate. While I’m sure my husband would say I already have too many books about the Middle Ages, I always enjoy well-written material that covers new ground.

    Thank you again for untold hours of reading (and re-reading!) pleasure.

  114. Sharon K Penman Says:

    This is a message for Steve and for the young lady who wants to go abroad to Wales for her junior year. Steve, you had queries about Prince of Darkness, and she asked for book recommendations. Unfortunately my main computer staged his final meltdown yesterday; Demon Spawn is dead. This means, of course, that I cannot access the e-mails on it. I did back up onto a flash drive and hope eventually to be able to transfer them to my backup computer, but I have definitely lost all of the new e-mails of the past week. So I am hoping you’ll both read this and resend your questions. That goes for anyone else who contacted me via e-mail in the past week. In fact, I’d recommend resending any e-mails with questions sent in recent months, as I don’t know how long it will take me to make the flash drive transfer. I hope to do the book drawing for Devil’s Brood in the next day or two. I don’t know what I’ve done to offend the computer gods, but I am wiling to make an unconditional surrender, will meet all of their terms, no matter how unreasonable, in return for a truce.

  115. marjorie abrams bosco Says:

    I just finished reading the Devils Brood and enjoyed every minute of each detail! I was fortunate to have traveled to Northern Wales with a Welsh friend this past Spring, but now I feel the need to return! One of my favorite novels of the 100 years war is called in English: In a Dark Wood Wandering. The book was originally written in Dutch before World War 2 and the preface is a story unto itself. Thank you Sharon Kay Penman for your wonderful creations of fact and fiction.

  116. Koby Says:

    Today, Abbot Suger died.

  117. AnneBoleyn Says:

    Ooooh how exciting , Sharon Penman and CW Gortner in one thread. I thought Christmas was last month :D

  118. bella Says:

    Did everyone here had a chance vote for their Favorite Blog, yet? If u haven’t yet, u can still vote for Sharon’s blog at Historicalnovelblogs.com(???) Or go to Nan Hawthorne’s website.

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    I am reading the “Sunne” for the second time. I have gotten interested to see pictures of Edward IV’s banner, The Sunne in Splendor, Dickon’s banner and the Bear and Ragged staff of Warwick’s. do you know where I might find them.
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