Set in the 13th Century, Here Be Dragons is the story of King John and his
paradoxical man, he was charming, generous, clever -- and he was unstable and brutal. He
was capable of great kindnesses, but he butchered child hostages. He was the youngest son
and favorite of Henry Plantagenet, but he would betray his father in order to seize the
throne of England. For centuries, history recorded him as a bad king, upon whom the Magna
Carta was forced. Yet history also tells us he was intent on bringing a measure of justice
to his realm in the face of his greedy barons' refusal to accept the law.
But Here Be Dragons is also the story of Llewelyn the Great of Wales. At 14, he
civil war; by 21, he held all North Wales. He was John's vassal -- and most bitter enemy.
His dream of a free and united Wales, unencumbered by English laws or lords, was to spur
lifelong crusade that left little time for peace or pleasure.
And, at its heart, Here Be Dragons is the story of Joanna: daughter to one,
wife to the
other. Bastard-born, hidden from her father until her embittered mother's death, then
brought, a bewildered five-year-old, to John's court. He would cherish her, cosset her,
and yet use her as a political pawn, marrying her off at fifteen to a wild Welsh prince
She was terrified, but he was the father she adored and obeyed. Wife to Llewelyn, whom
came to love, daughter to John, whom she worshipped, Joanna was trapped in the crossfire
of their implacable enmity. Here Be Dragons will not disappoint Sharon Penman's
following. Told with a richness of detail that brings the England, France, and Wales of
the thirteenth century fully to life, Here Be Dragons combines high drama,
adventure, and authentic historical fact. It makes for an engrossing, entertaining, and
just plain wonderful read.
Holt, Rinehart & Winston
hardcover / $
paperback / $16.95