Sunday, March 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman

Publication Date:
March 4, 2014


From the New York Times-bestselling author of Lionheart comes the dramatic sequel, telling of the last dangerous years of Richard, Couer de Lion’s life.

This long-anticipated sequel to the national bestseller Lionheart is a vivid and heart-wrenching story of the last event-filled years in the life of Richard, Coeur de Lion. Taken captive by the Holy Roman Emperor while en route home—in violation of the papal decree protecting all crusaders—he was to spend fifteen months imprisoned, much of it in the notorious fortress at Trefils, from which few men ever left alive, while Eleanor of Aquitaine moved heaven and earth to raise the exorbitant ransom.

My Review:

“A King’s Ransom” by Sharon Kay Penman is an exceptional work of historical fiction. Of course, I didn’t expect any less given who the author is! I’ve read several of Penman’s  novels and I’m never disappointed. Penman has an amazing knack at bringing a period of history to life for the reader. Every detail is covered, all while keeping the reader interested and guessing as to what will happen next. She takes history and really breathes life into it.

The character’s are well-rounded and the writing style is smooth, easy to read, and interesting. Every one of the characters bring something different to the table and add to the story. They’re well developed and you really get to know Richard and those he surrounds himself with.

I was on the edge of my seat as soon as the novel began with Richard’s adventures and brushes with death. The novel does slow down a little while he’s in captivity, but Penman somehow manages to make reading about getting a king ransomed from prison interesting. I really felt that I got to know the characters in this novel, Penman did an excellent job of really bringing them to life for me. The amount of research that went into this novel is obvious. Even though the author stays true to history, the novel doesn’t read like a history book. It definitely  keeps the feel of an adventure novel, and it keeps the reader interested throughout.

You can tell Penman thinks very highly of King Richard I. It’s obvious that she has spent a lot of time researching him, and bringing him to life for her readers. It’s impossible not to admire him with how Penman portrays him, he’s the epitome of what a hero was thought to be during that time period.

I absolutely loved this novel, and I would definitely recommend it to any fan of historical fiction. I honestly don’t think it’s possible for Penman to write a ‘bad’ historical fiction novel.  From great adventures, well written characters, and developed research, this novel has it all.

I give “A King’s Ransom” FIVE out of FIVE stars.

Praise for A King’s Ransom 

A King’s Ransom [is] historical fiction of the first order, a narrative synthesis of the royal marriages and petty rivalries, the personal slights and gestures of loyalty, the grand deeds and simple twists of fate that shape events . . . Instead of history that reads like a novel, Penman achieves something greater: a novel that reads like history.”—Willamette Week

“Penman’s long-awaited sequel to her book Lionheart covers the last seven years of Richard’s life. There’s betrayal, war, illness and intrigue….She includes everyday details that get you right into the story . . . once you start reading you won’t want to stop.”—British Weekly

“A panoramic retelling of the tumultuous last years of Richard the Lionheart’s life . . . Penman has absorbed herself so fully into the heart and mind of her protagonist that an undeniably flawed but refreshingly human Richard virtually walks off the pages. This atmospheric fictional biography showcases the author’s mastery of all things medieval while providing some refreshingly new twists on the life and times of a hallowed hero.”—Booklist

“Detailed down to the last flagon of wine, Penman’s work will please serious fans of historical fiction. . . Characters rise from the pages—Richard, brave warrior, skilled diplomat; Heinrich, "If he were cut, he’d bleed ice"; the mercenary Mercadier; and multitudes more. Seven years of sieges and battles, confrontations in castles and on horseback are lovingly detailed. . . Penman’s latest is a massively entertaining work of historical fiction for dedicated fans.” —Kirkus Reviews

Purchase "A King's Ransom" Here!


  1. Thanks for a thoughtful review of one of the greats of HF.

  2. So many great reviews for this book. I am a few books behind now and I need to catch up!!