A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen
In 1002, fifteen-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.
Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.
Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers.
Striking a quivering bull's eye with the first book of a planned trilogy, Bracewell's enthralling debut begins with Emma of Normandy crossing the "Narrow Sea" in 1002 C.E. to marry the much older King Aethelred. Emma is ill-prepared for the trials that come with her new position; not yet knowing the heart of the old king she makes the mistake of demanding the title of queen. The king, regretting the hasty decision of "taking a Norman slut to wife," quickly tires of his demanding new bride; jealous rivals vie for Emma's crown; and the threat of a Viking invasion constantly looms. But Emma's role in the English court and her only chance of survival come down to heeding her mother's words: "our first and most important task," she instructed Emma before her departure, "is to bear a son." Only then will her crown be secure. In time, Emma wins the hearts of her subjects as well as the affection of a young man in her husband's court. Determined and savvy, Emma is a strong character that refuses to be cowed by her circumstances. With a light touch, Bracewell delivers a highly entertaining addition to the historical fiction genre.