Review + Giveaway: The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Giveaway: The Price of Blood by Patricia BracewellThe Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell
Series: Emma of Normandy #2
Published by Viking Adult on February 5, 2015
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
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four-stars

Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure

Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.

As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.
Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.

Upon finishing The Shadow on the Crown, I had but one wish: a sequel. I loved that book entirely, but it didn’t feel complete. There were rumors of a sequel, but nothing definitive. Two years later, the sequel finally has come out. The usual questions drifted through my mind about whether it would live up to its predecessor and whether I would still remember enough to care, which, with me, is a real consideration. If, like me, you’ve been eagerly awaiting a sequel to The Shadow on the Crown, The Price of Blood was well worth the wait.

After two years, I’m amazed at how much I remembered from The Shadow on the Crown, particularly when most of the names are so strange and similar to one another. Yet, even just flipping through the dramatis personae at the start of the book, it came rushing back. The credit goes to Bracewell for her realistic characters and her skillful reminders of crucial plot points and relationships from the prior book.

Though I didn’t get the feels from The Price of Blood the way I did from The Shadow on the Crown, it’s no less brilliant of a book for that. My emotional response came from a romance, doomed by history not to last. Also, I sort of spoiled myself on the outcome of that with a little history googling. Oops. Still, I care very much about Emma. Many of the characters are vile and hateful, but they remain oh so interesting.

Æthelred, for example, is a fascinating case. He’s the king, as he wished to be, but, because he killed to attain the position he coveted, he trusts no one. Most especially, he fears Athelstan and his other adult sons. At the same time, guilt over his brother’s death is driving him mad; he’s seeing his brother’s apparition much like Lady Macbeth saw the blood on her hands. Because he doesn’t trust his sons, he ends up allying with men who flatter him, but end up leeching more of his power than his sons likely would have.

Emma and Elgiva, though worlds apart in temperament, are both powerful women, as much as they could be in eleventh century England. To have even the influence they do, they have to rely on marriage and babies. Though Elgiva’s a villain and Emma’s the heroine, I have a sort of respect for both, so clearly chafing against the mores of the time. I also find Emma’s choice between truly raising her children and being able to impact politics surprisingly touching.

The history I find endlessly compelling. This is a period of history I know nothing about, so I’m learning a lot. I love that the epigraphs at the start of the sections contain snippets of the history she was drawing from in writing the novel. I’ve no doubt that much of the novel is fictionalized, but that also lets me know how close she’s following the texts that remain for the big stuff. The early eleventh century was a complete mess. Bracewell does an amazing job making the politics interesting. Her writing is engaging and explains the various forces involved very clearly.

Patricia Bracewell’s trilogy is wonderful historical fiction. I hope it won’t be two years or more for the final installment, but you can bet I’ll be reading it, however long I must wait.

Favorite Quote:

Most men’s lives ended with a sword stroke, while women simply died of boredom.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif cersei screams internally GOT
This was being a woman in the High Middle Ages basically.

Thanks to the generous people at Penguin, I’ve got a hardback copy of The Price of Blood on offer for one lucky reader. Also, if you’re in a book club, Penguin has a fantastic online book club kit available. The giveaway is US only and will be shipped by the publisher.

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12 responses to “Review + Giveaway: The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell”

  1. erinf1 says:

    I’d surround myself with strong and canny people! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Gillian says:

    My strategy would be to DRINK LOTS AND LOTS OF WINE, have torrid affairs, and then flee for the continent when it all inevitably went south. I would not make a very GOOD queen, but my jewels would be fabulous.
    Gillian recently posted…The One Where I Interview Gayle Forman!My Profile

  3. Ty Wilson says:

    I would create my own spy network and use them to keep tabs on as many possible threats as I could. I would also try to treat my subjects as fairly as I could in hopes of earning their love and respect so they would be willing to fight for me if need be.

  4. Carl says:

    I think the key would be to form as many alliances as possible and keep vigilant for anyone who appeared disloyal. Thanks.

  5. Oh man. I think I’d take the Sansa Stark strategy- keep my eyes and ears open, make allies but not promises, and bide my time until I could take more control. I’m pretty good at being sneaky, which would work to my advantage.

    Also I am SO EXCITED for this sequel! I really loved Shadow on the Crown and I’ve been anxiously awaiting The Price of Blood. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway 🙂

  6. Anita Yancey says:

    I would hire a lot of loyal guards.

  7. Makaela says:

    Run for the hills. =D

  8. Surround myself with capable people, who don’t have many ambitions (because too many ambitions in one area and the place will go full on Game of Thrones). Know how to fight and defend myself, have ears and eyes everywhere, and rule fairly but with an iron fist (which I will occasionally use to pummel those who turn against me).
    Michelle @ In Libris Veritas recently posted…Saturday Issue Review: Saga Vol. 2My Profile

  9. Meg says:

    Kill them all.
    Meg recently posted…Buzz Worthy News: February 6, 2014My Profile

  10. Kayla Beck says:

    I would sleep with my brother and manipulate everyone, friends and enemies alike, with the poon. Other than that, I’d do everything in my power to discredit everyone.
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Review: Senior Year Bites by J.A. CampbellMy Profile

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