I had been interested in reading this book ever since the first novel I read about Joan of Kent, who was Edward, The Black Prince's, eventual wife. The book about their relationship I read was called THE FIRST PRINCESS OF WALES by Karen Harper, and I guess you could say that I "fell in love" with their love story. Edward was Edward III of England's son, and was next in line to the throne, so he had to marry where he was told to marry, although he was supposedly in love with his cousin Joan. Eventually, after both being married and widowed, and Joan having children to another man as well as a semi-scandalous marriage which had been annulled, her and Edward, The Black Prince, ended up together. They were both in their 30's by the time fate allowed them to be married, and even though they didn't live long after their marriage, it was still a love story, and I'm a sucker for love stories!
A TALE OF ARMS, OF DEATH, OF LOVE, AND OF HONOR
Set against the turbulent backdrop of the Hundred Years' War, I Serve chronicles the story of Sir John Potenhale. A young Englishman of lowly birth, Potenhale wins his way to knighthood on the fields of France. He enters the service of Edward, the Black Prince of Wales, and immerses himself in a stormy world of war, politics, and romantic intrigue.
While campaigning in France, Potenhale develops an interest in Margery, a spirited lady-in-waiting with a close-kept secret. He soon learns that Sir Thomas Holland, a crass and calculating baron, holds the key to unlock Margery’s mystery and possesses the power to overturn all of his hopes.
When the Black Death strikes Europe, however, Potenhale realizes that the fiercest enemy does not always appear in human form. Seeing the pestilence as a punishment for the sins of his generation, he questions his calling as a knight and considers entering the cloister. Margery or the monastery? Torn between losing his soul and losing the love of his life, he finds friendship with a French knight who might—just possibly—help him save both.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Sir John Potenhale, who was Edward, The Black Prince's, squire, and eventually a knight. During one of the many battles that he fought with Edward he captured and ransomed Geoffroi de Charny of France, who was somewhat of an important person in the French Army. Once Sir Potenhale is done or on a hiatus from fighting the French, he stops by de Charny's castle to visit Geoffroi's (now) widow, and this is where the story begins.
Rather than Sir Potenhale telling the story of his knighting, battles, and love in a journal, he tells all of these deeds, in story form, to de Charny's grieving widow, after he gives her a piece of her husband's standard flag to remember him by.
The novel was not as good as I had expected it to be. I suppose I did learn a lot about the different battles between the French and English, and how The Black Prince was able to win back many of the lands in France that King John (Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II's son) had lost during his disastrous reign, but it was, well....boring.
The description of battles were clearly described, but without any excitement. Sir Potenhale's love for Joan of Kent's lady in waiting, Margery, was sweet, but the most romance that came out of that was him carrying her glove around for YEARS in his shirt, I'm talking TEN years here. I did finish the book, because it had enough accurate historical information to keep me slightly interested. If you're looking for an exciting historical fiction novel, then I would definitely keep this one on the shelf. However, if you're truly interested in the battles that The Black Prince led against the French, then this is a good book for you.
Really all the novel is about is the war between France and England. There is hardly anything about the Prince's marriage, or his love for Joan, and forget any type of passion or romance, there wasn't even a peep of that!
Another thing that annoyed me was the fact that Geoffroi de Charny's widow was even in the book at all, because the poor woman had as much of a role in the book as a wooden pole. She maybe said three sentences the whole time. This poor woman gets told her husband is dead and handed a piece of his standard flag, and then Sir Potenhale sits and talks her ear off for three hours (at least that's how many hours it's suggested he talked at the end). Why even have the poor woman in the book!? Hopefully she was drinking some strong wine while she was listening to the man who had at one time held her husband hostage, oh, and was her husbands enemy since he was English and her husband was French!
Looking back at it, I don't even know how I finished it...that's sad. I'm glad I only spent $2.99 on it. I DID learn some valuable historical information though, so it was not a complete loss, I just wouldn't read it again.. I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars. I feel bad, because it was obviously a well researched book, but it was just a bit boring for me..