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The Chosen Queen (Queens of Conquest) by Joanna Courtney
This book follows a very special medieval lady in history, called Edyth Alfgarsdottir. I was really eager to read about her because she was the lady who became queen TWICE.
The tale opens when Edyth, as a young girl, witnesses the handsome Earl Harold marrying his handfast wife, the beautiful, swan-neck, Lady Svana… and vows she too wants to marry for love.
Edyth is beautiful and courageous but her family was in trouble. In 1055, the old King, Edward the Confessor, has no sons and the succession for the throne of England is in question. Edyth’s father, (with the very strange spelling…) Ælfgar, is exiled on the charge of treason and their family has to flee to Wales for safety.
There, Edyth meets the charismatic Gruffudd ap Llywelyn (Griffin), the first King of Wales. Both her father and Griffin are keen to make an alliance and this is made all the stronger when Edyth and Griffin instantly fall for each other’s charms and marry. However, chaos surrounds them. With an aging King, England is open to foreign invasion and Griffin and her father are too ambitious. In a bizarre twist, Harold, the Earl who once she looked up to, attacks Griffin’s court and they both have to flee for the mountains. Then, when Edyth’s father dies she fears she is even more vulnerable and alone. Huddled on the mountain’s edge, with her children so young and frail, she realises her husband has been killed by his own men and she is captured and taken back to England.
A widow and all alone with 3 young children, Edyth is desperate. So, when Harold meets Edyth again in England and he instantly falls for her beauty she is stuck in an impossible situation. Although he is married to Lady Svana (Edyth Swannesha – both women are called Edyth which is really helpful!!) Harold is first in line to take the throne after the dying King and he needs a legitimate Queen in the eyes of God and he wants Edyth. Edyth is obviously slightly reluctant, this is not only her late husband’s enemy but Lady Svana is her friend. She is asked to make the hardest choice between her heart and the future of England…
I probably have given away too much already, but the one thing I really loved about this book was how Edyth’s character goes from strength to strength! You are with her from her first glimpse of love, her turbulent marriage and her constant friendship with Lady Svana. Which also is why I liked the way Lady Svana was depicted. I imagined her as this serene, motherly figure, constant in her views/ faith and a source of love for Edyth. This just made me love their characters even more. I found myself gripped in the romance, fast-paced style of writing and the characters involved. So much so that I instantly wanted to read more about the infamous Battle of Hastings and the women caught up in the clashing Kings.
If you want to read more from the Battle of Hastings here are some more books:
- The Winter Mantle by Elizabeth Chadwick: A love story of William the Conqueror’s niece and her romance with Waltheof of Huntington, although in Medieval marriage nothing is easy!
- The Conqueror’s Queen (Queens of Conquest) by Joanna Courtney [NEW THIS YEAR!]: This is also part of the Queens of Conquest trilogy but this time it’s about William the Conqueror’s wife, Mathilda of Flanders.
- The Constant Queen (Queens of Conquest) by Joanna Courtney: Elizaveta is the princess of Kiev and her husband the fearsome Viking warrior, Harald Hardrada, together are set on the throne of England.