Book Review – The Autumn Throne – Elizabeth Chadwick – Highly Recommended

Here’s the blurb;

Eleanor of Aquitaine’s powerful story is brought to a triumphant and beautiful close by much-loved author Elizabeth Chadwick in the trilogy that began with The Summer Queen and continued in The Winter Crown

England, 1176

Imprisoned by her husband, King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England, refuses to let her powerful husband bully her into submission, even as he forces her away from her children and her birthright.

Freed only by Henry’s death, Eleanor becomes dowager Queen of England. But the competition for land and power that Henry stirred up among his sons has intensified to a dangerous rivalry.

Eleanor will need every ounce of courage and fortitude as she crosses the Alps in winter to bring Richard his bride, and travels medieval Europe to ransom her beloved son. But even her indomitable spirit will be tested to its limits as she attempts to keep the peace between her warring sons, and find a place in the centres of power for her daughters.

Firstly, apologies, I am very late to review this one – I was put off by the length of it – but it’s been well worth the time.

The Autumn Throne by Elizabeth Chadwick is a delightful book.

Charting the final thirty years of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s life, it is not exactly a fast-paced novel, but I don’t think it’s ever meant to be. For all that Eleanor was imprisoned for nearly fifteen years of those thirty, there is still a great deal that befell her, and of course, with her unruly husband and difficult sons, Eleanor really doesn’t have a moments peace to herself.

I very much enjoyed the arrival of many of Eleanor’s grandchildren throughout the novel, as well as the reappearance on multiple occasions of William the Marshall – definitely Elizabeth Chadwick’s greatest character to date.

I don’t think that I’ve read the first two parts of the trilogy, but I’ve read about Eleanor before – both in fiction and non-fiction, and I didn’t feel as though I missed out on anything, and for all that I knew the ending of the novel would be her death, that didn’t diminish the enjoyment of reading about her sometimes chaotic and busy life.

While Henry II is not reviled throughout the novel, he never appears as a particularly pleasant man, neither do her sons, especially John. Yet, the author does a fine job of portraying all of Eleanor’s sons, and her husband, as men that Eleanor can’t help but love, both as their mother, and as their wife, even when they anger her. But it also shows how helpless she was. She might have been a great queen, but she was really just a pawn that her husband and sons used when it suited them.

A finely nuanced book.

Thanks to Netgalley for my EArc.

 

Author: M J Porter, author

A writer, historian and reviewer of historical fiction and fantasy.

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