Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage
Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over. After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster. In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much. When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.
Anna Belfrage does an amazing job at completing the third book in The King's Greatest Enemy series. Under the Approaching Dark is the third book in the series, and it really brings all of the action and drama together for the reader.
While reading this series, I definitely became connected to the main characters, Kit and Adam. The ability to connect with, and to like the main character(s) (or at least admire), is always my number one requirement for a great book. I also love when historical fiction authors are able to stay relatively close to being true to history, yet use a bit of creative license in order to make things interesting, and to add elements of adventure and suspense throughout the book. Anna Belfrage does a great job of creating adventure upon adventure for her main characters, yet also keeping true to the history of England at that time. The events happening at this time in England did not really need an author to make them interesting, as the real people of that time were doing a good job of creating drama all on their own! During this time period, King Edward II has been captured and put in prison, his crown taken from him due to his poor leadership, and his son, King Edward III is newly crowned. However, due to his young age, he is being led by his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Things are definitely strained in the country, and sides are being chosen. Many of the nobles are angry at the closeness of Mortimer to the crown, and his influence on the new King; not to mention his position in the Queen's bed. Also, King Edward III is beginning to grow weary of his mother and her lover micromanaging his every move, and undermining his power. As he grows more resentful of their relationship and gains more confidence in himself, it is clear that something is going to give.
Ms. Belfrage weaves the lives of her main characters, Kit and Adam, in among those historical figures who are well known throughout history. They are forced to find their way in a court full of intrigue and danger, and to be successful in doing so. Definitely a great book to read, especially if you love historical fiction. Although this novel CAN be read as a stand-alone, I would highly recommend beginning with book one of the series, In the Shadow of the Storm. There is so much that happens in the first two novels, both historically and with Kit and Adam, that there would definitely be some confusion if you began with this novel. Plus, the books are great, so why wouldn't you start with the first one? A solid FIVE out of FIVE stars from me!
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Under the Appraoching Dark