The King's Daughter by Penny Ingham

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The King's Daughter by Penny Ingham

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This novel combines plenty of historical data with a forbidden love story - which is timeless. The Vikings are afoot in England so there's lots and lots of pillaging, plundering and raping, so brace yourselves.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 280 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Cava Books
ISBN: 978-0955599750

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The central female character - The King's Daughter is Elflaede. She's young, feisty and very pretty. She also has this unforgettable reddish hair. At this point in the story I was reminded a little of Queen Elizabeth I, I have to say. In Elflaede's own words she had never known a time without war . The hordes of Pagan Norsemen are to blame. They've come to England with their own set of superstitions. And they've come with one aim. To conquer great swathes of England.

As a royal princess, Elflaede commands automatic respect from her people. But, as a sensible, even fearless, young woman her admirers increase - to include even a Pagan or two. Unthinkable. The clash of two different worlds, two different cultures is a strong theme in this novel.

Ingham is keen to share her archeological knowledge with the reader. So there's plenty of descriptions. For example, about the lives of royals and non-royals, their homes, castles, keeps, their livelihoods and the countless hardships of that early period in history.

There are some nice lines throughout, in keeping with the period. For example, His breath oozed like dragon's smoke.

On a rather negative point, I did find some of the language, especially the dialogue, over-simplistic and even rather sentimental. It jarred with the sheer brutality of the countless battles fought. It didn't quite work for me and took away something from the overall tone of the novel.

We have the many- times- before scenario, of brothers tussling for a pretty girl. We have cruel husbands and jealous brothers. The whole gamut of emotions carries the story along. It could just as easily be placed in a modern-day setting and still work. Some readers may find the historical element overdone. Overkill perhaps.

Ingham has packed in quite a few bloody battles in this novel. Blood, guts and gore aplenty. In fact, there was probably a battle or two too many, for my liking. I certainly got the point of it the first time around. The King's Daughter watches all this cruelty unfold before her. Cruelty to both men and horses in battle. She asks poignantly just before any more blood is spilt Was it courage? Or madness? The armies met, two brutally powerful waves clashing ...

For me, it was the personal story and journey of Elflaede which held me. She's constantly torn as to what to do. Not for herself, but for England, her country. And here again, I'm reminded of Queen Elizabeth I. I hope I'm not giving too much away when I say that she chooses her country every time - but at what personal cost?

For history and archeology buffs, this novel is a treat. And for those not particularly interested in England's past and how the Vikings came to be in England, it may just kindle a bit of a flame. I would tend to describe this novel as a romance with lots of history thrown in the mix. Enjoyable but too many blow-by-blow battles, which became I'm afraid a little repetitious in content.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this appeals then try Crusade by Elizabeth Laird.

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