Sharon Penman


pixie druid
Staff member
May 4, 2005
I may live in Yorkshire but I'm a Scot
I'm currently reading Here be Dragons, didn't think it was possible but she has made me see King John in a different light. I've never liked John, but this book has given me a grudging admiration for him.

I've also read The Sunne in Splendour and thought it was a brilliant read but then again I'm fascinated by Richard III so I'm likely a bit biased.

She has away of giving you a unique insight to the lives of these historical figures.
I thought the same about John after reading Here be Dragons. Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning are just as good and give a real insight into characters such as Simon De Montfort and King Edward I.
Let us know what you think about it. The 3rd book, The Reckoning for me was one of the most emotionally draining books I ever read.
From start to finish the whole series was heart breaking. Falls The Shadow I thought was weak at first but the second half was amazing. The Reckoning were does one start. I've never known much about The Welsh Princes, now I need to know more. Edward I, pity that man didn't die at birth, Edmund would have made a better king.

Amazing commander, very intelligent and maybe his views that this isle needed to be one land were laudable but to aim to destroy a nations culture and believes is evil.

Thankfully for us Scots his son was inept.
I have just got Lionheart on the Kindle. It is her final book in dealing with Henry II and his sons. This book brings her around in a full circle to Here be Dragons where it all began for her.
Have just started reading The Sunne in Splendour and it's started strong. It really gives a sense of the mediaeval. Use of the young boy's POV is working well so far, but am hoping to see the man soon. :)

Only criticism is that the cover on my edition is of one of the last Byzantine Emperors, rather than Richard III. :)
I thought Lionheart was her final book on that period, but she has another one in the works dealing with Richard's return to England, which should bring her full circle to Here Be Dragons.

One critique of Lionheart that I had was that Richard did not come across as a very likable character. Now this may be true from a historical point, but I would imagine that is not how Penman wanted it. I felt all her best writing went into the character of Henri, Count of Champagne.
The problem is that I think she attempted to paint Richard in a very sympathetic light. Whereas if she had gone down the road of presenting him as a man whose faults were as prevalant as his good points then she would have had a more rounded character.
It was a good attempt to paint Richard sympathetically - I just personally found it a little unconvincing. Balanced characters with faults sounds like a good plan. :)
Hi Brian,

Have you read her trilogy on the Welsh Princes, Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning. These are by far her best books and heavy on the emotion. Llewellyn and Daffyd are two well written characters that Edith Parathger(sp) would have being proud of from her own writings.
I'm going to go ahead and dig up this old thread and let it see new light. :) I recently saw Sharon Kay Penman speak at our annual book festival. I really enjoyed her, and I want to read some of her work, but I'm not sure where to start. Any suggestions?

She mentioned some books of hers are about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and they sounded interesting to me. Not sure if I can start with those, or something different?
If you we're to take her books in chronological order you should start with When Christ and his Saints Slept. Eleanor appears towards the end of this with a young Henry II. Eleanor plays am important part in Truth and Chance, The Devil's Brood and Here Be Dragons.

But if I was to recommend where to start it would be with her novel on Richard III, The Sunne in Splendour. For me this book about as good as it gets in the HF genre. I have a sneaking feeling that George RR Martin must have read her material at some stage.
I've only read The Sunne in Splendour, which I really enjoyed. I picked up The Queen's Man and Lionheart in the Kindle sales last Christmas, so this thread is encouraging me to get to them sooner rather than later (although I didn't realise Lionheart is part of a series - can I get away with reading it on its own, or is it best to read the others first, do you think?).
Lionheart can be read on its own. You might miss out on some of nuances in the story, but if you know the history you should be ok. I did find it to be one of her weakest books.
Okay, thanks svalbard :)

I had heard it wasn't so good . . . but it was incredibly cheap at the time.

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