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Sharon's Favorite Web Sites and Authors

Those who've read my novel, The Sunne in Splendour, know that I have countless kindred spirits in the Richard III Society. I am especially grateful to Laura Blanchard and the Society for promoting my books so effectively in cyberspace; for the past two years they have been generous enough to share their website with me. For anyone interested in Richard III or the Middle Ages or simple fair play, I highly recommend checking out the Richard III Society website.

Those interested in Richard III will also be interested in another excellent Ricardian website, The Richard III Foundation.

For anyone wanting to confirm my oft-repeated claim that Wales is the most beautiful country this side of Eden, head right for the Castles of Wales site. I personally think the Castle of Wales website is the most spectacular website in all of cyberspace.

I am happy to report that there is a society dedicated to Gwenllian, the ill-fated daughter of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd and Ellen de Montfort; I am using the spelling of their names that are most familiar to readers of my novel, The Reckoning. I think it is wonderful that she is being recognized as a significant figure in the history of medieval Wales, for she was relegated to the shadows by Edward I. The site is www.princessgwenllian.co.uk, which is bilingual in English and Welsh, and it also has a useful list of links for those interested in the Age of the Welsh Princes.

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Medievalists.net is a wonderful website, both for those who are interested in researching the Middle Ages and those who enjoy reading interesting stories about the past. I recommend subscribing to it so as not to miss any of their lively and often eye-opening articles and fun quizzes. http://www.medievalists.net/

There is now a Welsh website which features my Welsh trilogy, Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow, and The Reckoning, at www.princesofgwynedd.com It was put together by the Betws-y-Coed Tourist Association, which can be reached at www.betws-y-coed.co.uk It is a lovely little town in the heart of Snowdonia, only a few miles from Llewelyn Fawr’s castle at Dolwyddelan, the ideal starting place for anyone interested in following in the footsteps of the Welsh princes.

And since Simon de Montfort’s daughter Ellen wed the last Welsh prince, Llewelyn ap Gryffydd, and was the mother of Princess Gwenllian, this seems a good place to mention that Simon has his own society, too. www.simondemontfort.org

WRITERS I RECOMMEND

Anyone who frequents my blog or Facebook pages knows how much I love Bernard Cornwell’s novels. His books have it all—scrupulous research, good writing, memorable characters, and—especially in his wonderful Saxon series—delightful dollops of wry humor. And as an added bonus, the man writes such compelling, realistic battle scenes that it makes me wonder at times if he has a secret time-travel machine hidden away in his basement. I can think of no better way to learn history than to reach for one of his books. But don’t take my word for it; investigate Cornwell’s Kingdom for yourself. http://www.bernardcornwell.net/

Readers who are intrigued by the MA are probably already well acquainted with the writing of Elizabeth Chadwick. For the few of you who are not yet familiar with her books, you are in for a treat. Her research is impeccable and she has a great gift for bringing medieval people and their world to vivid and dramatic life. I’ve already mentioned her website in my blogs, for she has also added a great deal of material about the MA, so a visit can be a learning experience.

Margaret Frazer was one of my favorite writers and a dear friend, and her death in 2013 was a wound that will never really heal for those who knew and loved her. She wrote two compelling medieval series, one about Sister Frevisse, who can give Brother Cadfael a run for his money, and one about Joliffe, her dashing, devil-may-care player and sometimes spy. Her sons still maintain her website and her mysteries and short stories are all available as paperbacks and in the e-book format. http://www.margaretfrazer.com/ And here is a link to Margaret Frazer, in Memoriam, in which I tried to honor this extraordinary woman who was taken too soon, but who lives on in her books. http://sharonkaypenman.com/blog/?p=390

I also enjoy spending time in France with Sharan Newman’s Catherine LeVendeur. Sharan has also written an excellent book for anyone interested in the Templars, The Real History of the Templars. For more information about her, visit the Sharan Newman website.

Helen M. Hollick doesn’t write mysteries -- at least not yet -- but she writes compelling historical sagas.  Fans of Johnny Depp and Pirates of the Caribbean will be interested to know that Helen is now doing a pirate series.

I have become an enthusiastic fan of Priscilla Royal’s mysteries, set in 13th century England. Her novels are suspenseful and so firmly rooted in the M.A. that reading one of them is a form of time travel. To visit her thirteenth century England, check out the Priscilla Royal website.

Margaret George has long been one of my favorite authors. Her newest novel, Elizabeth I, is her best one yet, a compelling, dramatic, and utterly convincing portrayal of this brilliantly neurotic (or neurotically brilliant) queen. www.margaretgeorge.com

C.W. Gortner is another fine historical novelist, who has given depth and credibility to such controversial queens as Juana la Loca (The Last Queen) and Catherine de Medici (The Secrets of Catherine de Medici). Next up for Christopher are Queen Isabella of Spain and Lucrezia Borgia. www.cwgortner.com

My favorite book store: The Poisoned Pen. My favorite on-line bookstore is the Medieval Bookshop, which is a wonderful source for finding out-of-print and bargain books. It is located in the UK, www.medievalbookshop.co.uk

Other writers I admire: Alice Hoffman, Janet Evanovich, Dana Stabenow, Elizabeth Peters, Sue Henry, Alan Gordon, Lindsey Davis, Steven Saylor, John Maddox Roberts, Michelle Moran, and that just scratches the surface.  I would also like to recommend The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. These are two of the most compelling, insightful, and haunting novels I’ve ever read. The same can be said about Alice Hoffman’s latest, The Dovekeepers, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

WEBSITES I RECOMMEND

There are some wonderful websites for those of us who love books and enjoy discussing them, way too many to mention. Here are a few of my favorites.

1) www.readingbooks-4fun.com This is an Australian website which deserves to head the list and not just because my books have been featured there!

2 www.historicalfictiononline.com A dangerous site, for you can spend hours here without even realizing how much time has passed.

3) historicalfictionauthorinterviews.blogspot.com This is another site that offers author interviews, run by a very talented author herself, Michelle Moran, who writes excellent novels about Ancient Egypt.

4) www.historicalnovelsociety.org The place to find book reviews and discussion lists, among other things.

For those who want to embark upon serious research about the MA, I’d recommend starting with these websites.

The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies, labyrinth.georgetown.edu

The Orb: On-line reference book for medieval studies, www.the-orb.net

http://todayinmedievalhistory.blogspot.com/ a fun way to learn medieval history.

http://www.themedievalchronicle.com This is a wonderful website for anyone interested in the Middle Ages.

For book lovers, I recommend:
http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php

http://www.librarything.com/

http://www.goodreads.com/

http://www.passagestothepast.com/

Dog Rescue groups
http://www.echodogs.org/dogs.htm This is the group that rescued my white shepherd, Tristan. If you want to adopt one of these beautiful dogs, check out their website; they adopt out-of-state.

http://www.catnipstrails.com/ This is the rescue group run by the woman who pulled Tristan from a Florida high-kill shelter on his very last day, for which I will be eternally grateful.

http://www.menifeeshelter.com/ A Kentucky shelter that goes that extra mile and then some to find good homes for dogs and cats in need of a second chance.


It is my understanding that books are no longer being accepted for the libraries destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but donations are still very much needed; contact the Texas Library Association . To make donations on behalf of the thousands of pets lost or abandoned in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, visit the Best Friends Animal Society website.

Whatever our differences about the war in Iraq, we are united in our concern for the safety and well being of our troops overseas. I was delighted to discover Operation Paperback, which provides reading material for members of the United States Armed Forces. Interested in sending paperback books or making donations, please visit the Operation Paperback website for more details.

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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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