Almodis the Peaceweaver by Tracey Warr
|Almodis the Peaceweaver by Tracey Warr|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A fictionalised story based on a real person in the eleventh century. It's a good read if a little heavy on detail at times. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: September 2011|
|Publisher: Impress Books|
|External links: Author's website|
At the age of five Almodis de la Marche was taken as a hostage - a guarantee of her family's good behaviour - and she remained there until she was of marriageable age. It was all the harder for Almodis as it meant that she was separated from her identical twin. The situation was not hostile although she didn't get on well with her foster mother, Agnes - and never would. Her first marriage was to Hugh of Lusignan and Almodis felt something akin to love for this gentle man, but the sexual relationship between the two was tenuous to say the least and Almodis was determined that she would create her own dynasty. At a time when marriages were put aside if they were not producing the required heirs, Almodis decided that she had to move on. Her next marriage - to Pons of Toulouse - would be more productive but far from happy.
When I first saw the title of this book I worried that it was going to be fantasy, which is so not my thing, but I needn't have worried. It's a story based in fact - Almodis is buried in Barcelona Cathedral - and as Tracey Warr, says, begging to be told. Almodis was married three times and had twelve children, but documentation of her life is thin on the ground and the gaps have been filled with a story which is certainly possible - in places, probable - and which is definitely very readable. It's entirely possible that she was a twin and that she gave birth to more than one set of twins. It's certainly true that her descendants would go onto rule in many parts of what is now Spain, France and the Middle East.
Almodis is feisty. She takes any situation by the scruff of the neck and shakes the best out of it that she can. Warr brings her off the page as someone who is not always admirable - but you can always respect the reasoning behind her actions. The supporting characters are good, although the women do shine out more than the men. It's the evocation of time and place which struck me most. Warr's not a medievalist, but she certainly knows the eleventh century well.
Just occasionally I felt that I was being lectured or that there was a little too much description but balance against that the fact that I read the book over a couple of days when I really should have been doing something else. I felt it was time well spent.
I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For some non-fiction about this period we can recommend The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land by Thomas Asbridge. For fiction you might like to try Ice Land by Betsy Tobin.
You can read more book reviews or buy Almodis the Peaceweaver by Tracey Warr at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Almodis the Peaceweaver by Tracey Warr at Amazon.com.
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