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Here be Dragons by Sharon Penman – an Epic Tale

Set in Wales, the land of the red dragon, this epic tale gave me hours of pleasure. The principal character is Joanna, illegitimate daughter of King John. She was sent at a young age to marry Llewelyn, a Welsh princeling.

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As a bridge between two worlds – French-Norman and Welsh, her love for her father and for her husband illustrate the tearing apart of a person involved in a war where they love people on both sides. And her father, King John, is portrayed with a sense of compassion, usually lacking.

This is an exciting read and has involved a huge amount of research to portray the lives, especially of the women, of a time 700 years ago. There were a great number of characters, and there were times when I would have liked a glossary of their names. Did we really need them all? But these are minor points in an intriguing glimpse into another world. The story kept moving, the pages kept turning and I kept learning about a part of history which can be somewhat missed out in our history lessons.

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Those were turbulent times, and this book sweeps us along page after page – it is also a long book (800 pages in my copy). If you like historic fiction and a gripping tale, then this might be for you. I for one, was impressed and delighted. This book compares favourably with her other masterpiece “The Sunne in Spendour”.

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