He looked like a king that day, Harold. Even in a simple bridegroom's tunic of darkest green he looked like royalty as he stepped up to take the Lady Svana's hand. There was no gold in sight, just flowers; no parade of bishops, just a smiling monk in a sack-robe and bare feet. There was no betrothal contract, no formal prayers, no exchange of lands or elaborate gifts, just the linking of hands joining two people for a year and a day.
Edyth had said nothing but it had seemed to her then that Harold glowed when he was with his handfast wife and it was that glow, more than any gold or land or title, that drew people to him. 'Love prefers to be free,' Svana had said and Edyth had carried that with her ever since. It had been her ideal, lit up by firelight and scented with meadow grass, and now, on the brink of womanhood, she craved such a passion for herself.
The Queens of the Conquest trilogy 1066.
Three Queens. One Crown.
As a young woman in England's royal court, Edyth, granddaughter of Lady Godiva, dreams of marrying for love. But political matches are rife while King Edward is still without an heir and the future of England is uncertain.
When Edyth's family are exiled to the wild Welsh court, she falls in love with the charismatic King of Wales - but their romance comes at a price and she is catapulted onto the opposing side of a bitter feud with England. Edyth's only allies are Earl Harold Godwinson and his handfasted wife, Lady Svana.
As the years pass, Edyth finds herself elevated to a position beyond even her greatest expectations. She enjoys both power and wealth but as her star rises the lines of love and duty become more blurred than she could ever have imagined. As 1066 dawns, Edyth is asked to make an impossible choice.
Her decision is one that has the power to change the future of England forever . . .
As a reader I have read some historical novels but they are mostly usually set in either the two World Wars or the Tudor period as I find these periods of history fascinating, so I am delighted that my eyes have been opened by this intelligent and passionately written book to a whole new era in the lead up to the Battle of Hastings, 1066.
Edyth Alfgarsdottir is the daughter of the Earl of Mercia and enjoys this life although there is part of her that is interested in the earthier side of life, which she is introduced to when she happens to stumble on a sexual encounter in the woods, which so shocks her, she falls out of the tree she was hiding in. The arms who catch her belong to Harold Godwinson and though she doesn’t realise at the time, Harold will play an important part in her future life.
After her father causes a scene in front of King Edward I, he and his whole family are sent to exile to live in the wildly untamed region of Wales where Edyth immediately makes an impression on Griffin, King of Wales and from there her adventures start in earnest.
I absolutely devoured this book, even though the period of history it takes place in is so unfamiliar and distant, thanks to the vivid writing, I felt transported to the courts of England and Wales and to the battlefields that were so prevalent at the time in an unending quest to keep England (and Wales) secure from invaders. I felt great admiration for Edyth who showed a determination and intelligence to make her own way in a world that was dominated by men’s actions. Her friendship with Svana was beautifully written. These women should have been seen as each other’s enemy as they both love the same man yet it is their love for each other and for Harold that strengthens them and binds them together.
This is an atmospheric, vividly written book that took me on a fascinating journey into the past so much so that even after I finished the book, I am still wondering about the characters and their world. I simply cannot wait for the next book. I am hooked!
Thanks Louise for this fantastic review, I have to admit that historical fiction earlier than the 1900s doesn't usually appeal to me but am now intrigued enough to add The Chosen Queen to my wishlist to read if my TBR pile ever reduces!