Thursday 11 December 2014

Guest Review of The King's Sister by Anne O'Brien

One betrayal is all it takes to change history
1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men.
In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted.
But defiance can come at a price.
1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confidant to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice.
Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death.
Sister. Wife. Traitor. She holds the fate of England in her hands.

I'm delighted to welcome my friend and fellow blogger Josie back to Random Things today.

Josie and her gorgeous ginger cat Jaffa host a really wonderful book blog; Jaffa Reads Too.

Josie is a big fan of historical fiction, so who better to tell you all about the latest novel from Anne O'Brien? The King's Sister was published by Mira in hardback on 7 November 2014.

Josie's thoughts on The King's Sister:   Elizabeth of Lancaster is the formidable daughter of John of Gaunt, and as such inherits the pride and arrogance of the great Plantagenet dynasty. Rejecting a marriage to John Hastings, the juvenile Earl of Pembroke, Elizabeth flouts convention to marry the ruthlessly ambitious, Sir John Holland, Duke of Exeter, who is half brother to the King Richard II. The marriage is passionate, volatile and not without danger. However, disobedience comes at a price, and the rebellious nature of Elizabeth’s husband ensures that the marriage is both dynastically and emotionally flawed from the beginning. Being close to the crown is to play with fire and as the brothers, sisters and cousins in this dangerous game of thrones continue to play out their deadly dynastic dramas, Elizabeth of Lancaster must act as a political shield, in order to keep both her husband and brother from committing the ultimate betrayal.  

The King’s Sister 
is impeccably researched and the author’s fine eye for historical accuracy ensures that the Plantagenet court really comes alive in the imagination. Elizabeth of Lancaster, is usually seen as a shadowy figure caught on the periphery of royalty, but her Plantagenet connections to both King Richard II and King Henry IV ensures that she has a prominent role in the making of history, and it is commendable that her story is told by an author who handles both her character, and the time in which she lived, with remarkable sensitivity. Throughout the story there is danger and intrigue in abundance, and even though Elizabeth is portrayed as flighty and incredibly naive, I felt immense sympathy for her.  I was less enamoured of her husband, who I felt let her down, but such is the way with historical fiction, that much as you would like the ending to be different, there really is nothing that can be done to change the eventual outcome.
There is no doubt that Anne O’Brien captures this genre of historical romantic adventure to perfection. Her books are delightfully readable, not just with a good dollop of romance to keep you entertained, but also with a wealth of factual detail which connects the story accurately to time and place. And as you delve deeper into the story, and believe me there is more than enough going on in the plot to keep you enthralled, it soon becomes obvious that life at the royal court, in the latter part of the fourteenth century, was a time of great danger and huge uncertainties. The threats and menace of this dark and treacherous time would, of course, tear the Plantagenet family apart for generations. 
So, if you like history with a frisson of romance and enough adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat, then, I'm sure that The King’s Sister will more than meets your requirements.
A huge thanks to Josie for sharing her review on Random Things today x

Anne was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at  Manchester University and a Masters degree in education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding as a teacher of history. Always a prolific reader, she enjoyed historical fiction and was encouraged to try her hand at writing. Success in short story competitions spurred her on.
Leaving teaching - but not her love of history - she wrote her first historical romance, a Regency, which was published in 2005. To date nine historical romances and a novella, ranging from medieval, through the Civil War and Restoration and back to Regency, have been published internationally.
Anne now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, a wild, beautiful place on the borders between England and Wales, renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches. Steeped in history, famous people and bloody deeds as well as ghosts and folk lore, it has given her inspiration for her writing. Since living there she has become hooked on medieval history.
For more information about the author and her books, visit her website
Check out her author page on Facebook    Follow her on Twitter @anne_obrien


  1. Thanks for asking us to come back to your wonderful blog to share our thoughts on The King's Sister. Jaffa and I really enjoyed it :)

  2. Thanks for another great review. History with a frisson of romance and a touch of adventure - this sounds right up my street!

  3. Thank you, to Anne, Jo and Jaffa of course. Lovely review for 'The King's Sister'.