England, 1271: The last year in the reign of Henry III. Five years have passed since
the brutal slaying of Simon de Montfort assured this puppet king his throne. In truth,
though Henry wears the crown, his son Edward rules the kingdom.
For Simon de Montfort's family, these years have meant anguish and exile. For his
ally Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, ruling uneasily over his fractious countrymen, they have meant
a tense, unstable truce with Edward, now casting covetous eyes on Wales. Once plighted to
Simon's daughter, Ellen, but released from that troth by her father's death, Llewelyn has
never married. He has named his charming but untrustworthy brother Davydd as heir,
full well the dangers.
And so the players are in place and the game -- if life and death, love and war can be
a game -- poised to play itself out to its bloody finale as English and Welsh cross
in a reckoning that must mean disaster for one side or the other.
The Reckoning is a novel about a Celtic society on a
collision course with a formidable feudal realm ruled by the most predatory of
kings. But it is also a story of broken fortunes and grim vengeance, of the poisoned love
between two brothers and the rare love between a man and a woman who overcame nearly
insuperable obstacles to form a bond that would never break. Above all, it is about two
extraordinary men whose dreams were so large and so antithetical that they were destined
to clash in a conflict that brooked no compromise.
For Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the dream of an independent and united Wales was
all-consuming and would cost him dearly. A man of courage and vision, he was also
single-minded and ruthless -- as only a dreamer can be.
For Edward, hot-tempered, unscrupulous, utterly fearless, the dream was of a crown
unfettered by any opposition and of an England whose borders stopped only at the edges of
the sea. In pursuing that vision, Edward would become England's greatest warrior king --
and possibly its most lethal.
The Reckoning is a richly textured mantle that is woven
through with strong characters and intense drama. To wrap oneself in it is to become --
for an enchanted, timeless moment -- beguiled by the spell of a master storyteller, for
Sharon Kay Penman, with her superb sense of story and her sure grasp of history, makes
thirteenth century so compelling it is hard to return to the twentieth.
Henry Holt and Company
hardcover / $
paperback / $17.95
St. Martin's Griffin - April 2009