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Book by Sharon Kay Penman Falls the Shadow
by Sharon Kay Penman

The Welsh Trilogy


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A sweeping novel of thirteenth-century England, Falls the Shadow is the story of a weak and willful king and a brilliant but uncompromising baron: once they had been friends, yoked by ties of marriage and by mutual if irksome need; ultimately they became implacable enemies enmeshed in a brutal war from which only one would emerge alive.

Falls the Shadow is the story of Henry III, cursed with the Plantagenet temper but lacking the Plantagenet will: faithful son of the Church, faithless liege lord; father of England's most famous warrior-king, wretched ruler of a rebellious realm. But for an accident of birth, he might have been a visionary architect, content in the role of paterfamilias. Instead, he inherited a crown -- and with it, all the problems left unresolved by the untimely death of his father, King John. Unable either to rule or to subdue, he would retreat into querulous impotence.

And this is the story of Nell, Countess of Pembroke, youngest daughter of King John, favorite sister of King Henry. Widowed at fifteen, she swore a holy oath of chastity -- then broke it to wed an upstart Frenchman, scandalizing the pious and infuriating the powerbrokers, who saw her as a rich prize rashly stolen by a lesser earl -- a foreigner at that.

And Falls the Shadow, finally, is the story of Simon de Montfort, youngest son of an influential French family, entitled to inherit neither land nor titles -- who talked his way into an earldom and marriage with the King's sister. Theirs would be a singular union: founded on a lie, defended by intense carnality, yet preserved by a fidelity unimaginable in an age of shifting allegiances based on self-interest alone.

Uncommonly able and dangerously outspoken, a fierce battle commander and a ruthless ally willing to risk all in defense of honor, Simon de Montfort embodied the chivalric code, stirring passions -- for good and for ill -- in all he brushed. It was inevitable that he would clash with Henry.

Falls the Shadow is a tapestry drenched in the color of its times, rich in drama and human foible. Filled with the stench of battle and the stink of betrayal, awash in intrigue and deception, it a tale of lost hopes and broken dreams. Yet it is also the story of one man's refusal to surrender his vision of a just and righteous society, for Simon's clash with Henry was no mere struggle for wealth and glory. It was nothing less than a courageous stand against arbitrary power and as such, it was centuries ahead of its time. In Simon's challenge lie the seeds of England's greatest gift: parliamentary democracy. In making that challenge, Simon forfeited life, but became legend.



Reviews:
"It's such a pleasure to read a Sharon Penman novel, not only because she is a wonderful storyteller, but also because her intelligence and her rigorous adherence to the facts inform each page. She does what I believe every good novelist of past times must do -- make the characters [and their times] just as real as anyone alive now. On this score she deserves high praise for her skill. Her Simon and Nell, for example, are far more riveting than political personalities on the scene today. [In the year 2480, can you imagine a novelist doing Ron and Nancy?]"
--Marion Meade, author of Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography and Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This?

"Because historical fiction tends to be riddled with errors, historians often look down on it. But Sharon Kay Penman is an author who likes to get her facts straight. As a result, Falls the Shadow, like her earlier works, becomes a novel in which history returns to what it was once supposed to be: a kind of literature that entertains even as it instructs."
--Charles T. Wood, Daniel Webster Professor of History and Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College

"Penman brilliantly evokes the medieval world with its deeply ingrained religious convictions that made men believe themselves directly favored or abandoned by God, a mental construct hard to reconcile with 'the seductive allure of a chivalric brotherhood based on the sword.' As usual, she illuminates the events of individual lives as well as the political and cultural forces that characterized this tumultuous era, in a thoroughly engrossing book."
--Publishers Weekly

"Penman's authentic historical treatment and characterizations capture the imagination and leave the characters well poised for an intended sequel. Recommended."
--Library Journal


Published May 1988
by Hernry Holt & Company
hardcover / $ 
ISBN: 0805003002
ISBN13: 9780805003000

paperback / $17.95
ISBN: 0312382464
ISBN13: 9780312382469
Published by St. Martin's Griffin

 


A King's Ransom

 

 



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Sharon Kay Penman
author of Lionheart, Devil's Brood,
When Christ and His Saints Slept
and Time and Chance
from Penguin Putnam

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