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New Medieval Books: Historical Fiction, Part 2

Five more new historical fiction novels…

A King’s Obsession

By Alison Weir

Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-1101966518

In this second novel of Alison Weir’s epic Six Tudor Queens series, the acclaimed author and historian weaves exciting new research into the story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s most infamous wife, a woman ahead of her time whose very life—and death—forever changed a nation.

Born into a noble English family, Anne is barely a teenager when she is sent from her family’s Hever Castle to serve at the royal court of the Netherlands. This strategic move on the part of her opportunistic father also becomes a chance for the girl to grow and discover herself. There, and later in France, Anne thrives, preferring to absorb the works of progressive writers rather than participate in courtly flirtations. She also begins to understand the inequalities and indignities suffered by her gender.

Anne isn’t completely inured to the longings of the heart, but her powerful family has ambitious plans for her future that override any wishes of her own. When the King of England himself, Henry VIII, asks Anne to be his mistress, she spurns his advances—reminding him that he is a married man who has already conducted an affair with her sister, Mary. Anne’s rejection only intensifies Henry’s pursuit, but in the absence of a male heir—and given an aging Queen Katherine—the opportunity to elevate and protect the Boleyn family, and to exact vengeance on her envious detractors, is too tempting for Anne to resist, even as it proves to be her undoing.

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By Blood Divided

By James Heneage

Quercus
ISBN: 978-1786480149

Siward, scion of a great dynasty, commands the Varangian Guard and has vowed to defend the Roman Empire to the last. Makkim, renowned general to Ottoman rule, has vowed to destroy it.

They are enemies in war, but unknown to them, they are also rivals to inherit one of Europe’s greatest fortunes. Even worse, they are competing for the love of the same woman.

Their vast inheritance lies in Venice, as does the famous courtesan they both love. She is the reason they will find themselves fighting on the walls of Constantinople, in one of the most dramatic sieges in history.

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The Conqueror’s Queen

By Joanna Courtney

Macmillan
ISBN: 9781447281092

William of Normandy is a rough man, but what more can you expect of an illegitimate son trying to muscle his way into a dukedom? After a violent start to their courtship, Mathilda of Flanders discovers William to be a man of unexpected sensitivity, driven by two goals: to prove himself by becoming a great ruler and to build a warm and secure family.

Mathilda has grown up safe in the love of her powerful parents, her rough and tumble brothers and, above all, her younger sister and closest confidante, Judith. Now, though, they must separate. Judith marries the glamorous Earl Torr and departs for life in England and Mathilda heads to Normandy with William.

When William’s cousin King Edward of England weakens, his eyes are cast across the narrow sea to the glittering throne he promised Mathilda as a young bride. Mathilda supports him keenly in his challenge, longing to live close to her sister once more.

But as reward for his support for William, Torr wants more than William is prepared to cede and there will be no alliance. The two sisters find themselves not only on either side of a sea but of a bitter battle, and the events of 1066 bring great personal loss, as well as victory, to the Conqueror’s Queen.

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In the Name of the Family

By Sarah Dunant

Virago
ISBN: 9781844087464

It is 1502 and Rodrigo Borgia, a self-confessed womanizer and master of political corruption, is now on the papal throne as Alexander VI. His daughter Lucrezia, aged twenty-two—already three times married and a pawn in her father’s plans—is discovering her own power. And then there is his son Cesare Borgia, brilliant, ruthless, and increasingly unstable; it is his relationship with Machiavelli that gives the Florentine diplomat a master class in the dark arts of power and politics. What Machiavelli learns will go on to inform his great work of modern politics, The Prince. But while the pope rails against old age and his son’s increasingly erratic behavior, it is Lucrezia who must navigate the treacherous court of Urbino, her new home, and another challenging marriage to create her own place in history.

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City of Masks: A Somershill Manor Novel

By S. D. Sykes

Pegasus Books
ISBN: 9781681773421

It’s 1358, and young Oswald de Lacy, Lord Somershill, is delayed in Venice as he awaits a pilgrim ship to the Holy Land. While the city is besieged by the King of Hungary, Oswald stays at the house of an English merchant, and soon comes under the spell of this decadent and dazzling island state that sits on the edge of Europe—where East meets West.

But Oswald has secrets. He is running away from something in England—a shadow that still haunts him, no matter how much he consoles himself with the delights of Venice. When he finds a dead man at the carnival, he is dragged into a murder investigation that draws him deep into the intrigues of this paranoid, mysterious city.

From the dungeons of the Doge’s Palace to the convent-brothel of Santa Lucia, Oswald must search for a murderer in this bewildering maze of alleys and canals. When he comes up against the feared Signori di Notte, the secret police, Oswald learns that he is not the only one with something to hide. Everyone is watching (or trailing) someone else; and nobody in Venice is who they appear to be. Masks, it seems, are not only for the carnival.

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See also our first part of Medieval Historical Fiction

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