When I read Sharon Penman’s “Sun in Splendour” I was hooked. And although Prince of Darkness was a good read, I felt a bit let down.
The story moves with fast-paced action and a realistic description of the places where the action took place. The description of St Michael’s Mount and the dangerous journey across the shifting sands to reach safety was exciting to read. One can get a feel for the medieval places, their sounds and smell as well as the visual images. The character, too, are well drawn and interesting, weaving in and out of the story.
I found it to be a very forgiving recreation of the man who would become King John, and the cosy personal scenes unrealistic – but then, I wasn’t there either. I do think that Sharon Penman has a handle on the status of women in general and the occasional powerful female was well portrayed, by innuendo as much as by direct observation, which is a very effective way to pull the reader into a story, and this was well done. I also admired the way she balanced the religious and the laymen, making it sound natural way of life.
Unlike some of her other books, I found it quite easy to put down this story. Maybe John wasn’t riveting or attractive enough to make a compelling tale – and this is one of her shorter historical novels.
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