What’s Ashley Reading?: Queens of the Crusades

Queens of the Crusades by Alison Weir

First line: On Sunday, 19 December 1154, Henry II, the first Plantagenet King of England, was crowned in Westminster Abbey, along with his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, amidst great splendor and rejoicing.

Summary: In the second installment of Alison Weir’s histories of the queens of England is Queens of the Crusades. It covers Eleanor of Aquitaine, Berengaria of Navarre, Isabella of Angouleme, Alienor of Provence and Eleanor of Castile spanning their lives over several centuries. These women lived in an age when they were expected to be humble and pious. But the queens of this time held power over their lands and income that drew the ire of their male subjects giving several of them tarnished reputations that Weir tries to dissolve.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed learning about these remarkable women. I love Eleanor of Aquitaine. She is one of my favorite queens of England. She lived for such a long time and was queen of France and England as well as duchess of Aquitaine. I was very excited to learn more about her daughter-in-law, Berengaria. She is glossed over so much in fiction since she was queen for such a short time and did not do much to gain prominence in England.

I like that Weir takes into account how often names are reused for different people that she tries to vary the spellings in order to keep them straight for the reader. I knew nothing about the queens after Eleanor. The amount of wealth these women had and spent is astounding. I love to see what the conversions are because it is so shocking.

Having visited England several times I have been to some of the places listed such as Westminster Abbey. I knew many of the tombs there but now I will need to find the ones for these medieval queens on my next visit.

FYI: Second installment of a four part series. Part one was Queens of the Conquest.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

First line: I bear ad deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.

Summary: Ismae is forced into an arranged marriage. However, when her new husband sees the scars on her body, he knows that she has been cursed. She escapes before he can kill her and flees to the convent of St. Mortain. Upon arrival she learns that she has a special gift. If she wants to stay they will train her to use that gift and become an assassin for the god of death.

My Thoughts: Medieval. Assassin. Nuns. Yes please! I have been meaning to read this book for years. Recently I bought a copy of it and finally decided it was time to dive in. I enjoyed it from the very first page. It was a fast story with great characters and an intriguing plot. I like that the author wove actual historical events into the story making it almost seem believable.

It is always fun seeing girls kick butt and take names. This story does just that. Ismae has a gift that allows her to survive poisons but she is also skilled in weaponry and deception. Several other girls from the convent are mentioned but not much is done with their stories. I hope that the next books dive into their stories. I cannot wait to see what happens next!

FYI: This is book one in a trilogy.