I read Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman last month. It was a good book to read as I had recently finished The Captive Queen by Alison Weir, which was about Richard the Lionheart’s parents, Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Richard was one of four surviving sons, often referred to as “The Devil’s Brood”, and he took the throne after his father’s death. This book follows Richard as he takes the throne, deals with his family, allies and foes, and battles the Third Crusade.
A number of characters, cities and countries are introduced throughout the book as it follows Richard’s life and his battles, so I definitely found it helpful to keep focused and not read this while tackling another book at the same time. Lionheart is full of details, including some history about Richard’s relationship and respect for his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, his strained relationship with Phillip of France and also with some of his own family members, his many battles, and his marriage to Berengaria. It was interesting to read about the different battle strategies and the ever-changing political alliances, where it could be difficult to know who you can and should trust.
One surprise at the end of the book was that I did not realize there would be a sequel, A King’s Ransom. I will now have to add this book to my reading list. I also enjoyed reading the Author’s Note at the back of the book – it was interesting to read about what sparked the author’s interest in writing a stand-alone book on Richard the Lionheart after the research she completed for some of her other books. It seems as it she started to see another side of him and this is what she brings to light in Lionheart.