Chronological Sharon Kay Penman Books Challenge

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Chronological Sharon Kay Penman Books Challenge

Redigeret: feb 3, 2021, 8:48 am

On 01/22/2021 the Historical Fiction genre lost a giant when Ms. Penman succumbed to a long illness. In honor of her and her contributions, here will be a place to discuss all of her books, not in order of their publication, but in the order of her books' historical events as they unfolded. Please join us, dedicated fans of old and new, as we embark upon a wonderful reading journey through the Middle Ages. A rate of approximately 200pp/week should take us to the end of Dec. 2021 and to the culmination of a remarkable body of scholarship and storytelling.


The Plantagenets
1101-1154 When Christ And His Saints Slept (Book 1 )
1156-1171 Time And Chance (Book 2)
1172-1189 Devil's Brood (Book 3 End of the Henry &
Eleanor Trilogy)
1174-1180's The Land Beyond the Sea (King Baldwin, Saladin, Knights
Templar, Crusaders)
1189-1192 Lionheart (King Richard Book 4)
1192-1199 A King's Ransom (End of King Richard Book 5)

Justin de Quincy Mysteries Books
1192-1193 The Queen's Man (Book 1)
April-June 1193 Cruel as the Grave (Book 2)
July-Oct 1193 Dragon's Lair (Book 3)
Dec 1193-March 1194 Prince of Darkness (Book 4)

Welsh Trilogy
1183-1232 Here Be Dragons (Vol 1)
1231-1267 Falls The Shadow (Vol 2)
1271-1283 The Reckoning (Vol 3)

Standalone Masterpiece
1459-1492 The Sunne In Splendour (SKP's 1st publication)

feb 3, 2021, 3:04 pm

well Im in! (but you know that already)

feb 4, 2021, 5:42 am

I have read The Queen's Man and found it less than stellar, but I am happy to learn otherwise. So far I have only Lionheart on my shelves, but I'm going to try to start at the beginning.

Redigeret: feb 17, 2021, 4:02 pm

I've read the first two Plantagenet's and am in love with the series. Count me in! But, I will say that Maurice Druon's series of the same time period was/is a teensy bit better. However, he does stop at right before Eleanor & the sons betrayal. There is a lot of Jeffrey, Stephen, and Maude at the beginning--and I liked that.

feb 5, 2021, 2:44 pm

I've read all of these except for two of the mysteries. >3 MissWatson: I considered the historical fiction far superior to the mysteries, FYI. Don't take them as a true example of Penman's fantastic writing!

I have read the Plantagenet series, including her newest Land Beyond the Sea, too recently to want to reread right now. But, I would join in whenever you get to the Welsh trilogy. I loved those books so much and would enjoy rereading them.

I hope this idea introduces some new readers to Penman's work. She's one of my favorites!

feb 6, 2021, 7:12 am

I have been dismayed to find that the books are very expensive even in paperback, so I think I'll start with the Lionheart before I commit myself to more book-buying.

feb 6, 2021, 9:27 am

I'm reading Falls the Shadow right now so will be interested to see what everyone thinks when you hit that part of the read-along!

feb 6, 2021, 10:00 am

>6 MissWatson: it is hard to find her books for a reasonable price sometimes. I’ve been lucky that my library has most of them in print and some in ebook format. I’ve also had luck finding good condition used paperbacks on eBay.

feb 7, 2021, 7:41 am

I will probably skip the mysteries and read an entire book at one time (maybe a week ), but will definitely try to join in discussions. Am really interested in the Welsh trilogy.

feb 7, 2021, 8:09 am

I am new to Librarything but this sounds awesome! I am going to finish a book today and then jump into these. Are we going to read them in the order above?

Redigeret: feb 13, 2021, 12:02 pm

>10 JillNiland: Well these books took place in different times, so most of read them as they were published. My thought was reading the book that takes place earliest among her HF novels when the series which would be When Christ and His Saints Slept. Thos of us who have read them would get a different perspective and perhaps pick up some new interests as we read it in the order of what happens.

However to someone new to Penman, and/or the time period and place (middle ages, britain), might want to start with Here be Dragons and read the Welsh Trilogy. These were the books that opened my eyes to Wales, and how its history connected to what I already knew about Henry II and Eleanor, Thomas Becket, Richard I King John and the War of the Roses. They also give you a taste of how she writes and makes history come alive (you may find yourself deep in grief for characters who died 600 years ago.....) You can go easily back and forth in discovering the books or start from the one and then just go through the others.

>9 Tess_W: I don't care for mysteries in general (tho I love me some good Ruth Rendell Psychological thrillers), but I was quickly hooked on Caedfael a series about a monk who has a knack for solving them. Loved the characters and the plots, and the h istory. Ive read Penmans mysteries but just didn't love them like I do her novels

feb 7, 2021, 10:51 am

>8 japaul22: She hasn't really caught on here in Germany, so this may take some time. Unless I take the plunge and settle for ebooks. Still thinking...

feb 13, 2021, 2:14 am

>1 Pat_D: So are we going to have discussions on the individual books? Are you going to post each book separately?

feb 13, 2021, 10:00 am

>11 cindydavid4: Great advise! Thank you.

feb 16, 2021, 1:51 pm

OK finished Here be Dragons. Great book. I am really sad that Joann and her father, John, never spoke again before he passed away. Was that really how it happened? I know he was terrible, but I wish there was some form of reconciliation.

feb 17, 2021, 4:02 pm

I'm halfway through The Devil's Brood and it is by far the best of the 3 I've read so far!

Redigeret: feb 17, 2021, 7:50 pm

>15 JillNiland: I don't know if that really happened, but I am assuming, given her attention to primary sources, and both of their personalities, and what he did to her family, Im not surprised thats the direcrion Penman decided to go. This was not going to be a happy ending (or as Bolton would say, if you were expecting a happy ending you haven't been paying attention)

First time I met her was when she was giving a book tour for The Reckoning While chatting with her I told her how much I liked accurate historical fiction, but how sad that ending was to me, she said tried every which way to make the events less painful, but stuck with the story. Said she felt like she sould go through grief therapy, for characters dead for 600 year! Such was her power of storytelling!

Finished WCCSS, a few comments besides usual excellent research and writing: The first time I read this I was really pulling for Maude, and sort of ignored issues she had. This time honestly I wanted to slap her silly! But it ended how it did, and her son did become King (Wonder what would have happened if Maude was able to claim the throne, or heck what would have happened if the White Ship hadn't killed off the kings son! We'd hae a very different story of course. Loved the relationship between Eleanor and Henry, as well as the beginning of his friendship with Thomas Becket

On to time and chance, where I get to revisit some scenes from Lions in Winter (not true to history, but one of my favorite films of all time!)

feb 20, 2021, 12:29 pm

>17 cindydavid4: How exciting that you got to meet her and ask her about that specific ending! Thanks for taking the time to respond.

maj 29, 2021, 9:14 pm

I finished all the Plantagenet's and later this year I will begin the Welsh Trilogies. However, Gabaldon's last book will be out in September and I have one more Poldark to finish!

jun 18, 2021, 5:39 pm

I had not heard of the loss of Ms. Penman. I've previously read the first and last books in the proposed list, and they live permanently on my favorite books list. Originally from the library but I eventually obtained good quality used paperbacks from Powell's in Portland, OR.

One thing I learned recently is that the ebooks had been revised by the author to make the language a little less formal (stilted), at least The Sunne in Splendor. I re-read that year before last, but just couldn't finish the last bit and lose Dickon all over again.

I will try and read more of these titles this year in commemoration of a great author, especially for historical fiction.

jun 18, 2021, 10:38 pm

Finished Lionheart, book 4/5 of the Angevin/Plantagenet series and it was the least favorite of the ones I've read thus far as most of the book focused on leaders and battle strategies of the Third Crusade.

Redigeret: jun 28, 2021, 10:19 pm

>21I didn't mind lion heart that much, interested in Richard and Berengaria, their relationship may have had more to it than is usually thought. Tried to read the Land Beyond the Sea and think Ive read too much of that history, and think it really needed some editing.

just about finished with Here be Dragons, oh I always get teary when Llywellen and Joanna try to patch up their marriage. such a great scene. So many great scenes and great characters. It was the book that made me fall in love with her writing, and tho her last few books were over long to me, I still loved them.

jul 10, 2021, 7:00 am

Finished A King's Ransom. It was superb and IMHO the best of the 5 Angevin novels. Now I will begin the Welsh trilogy.

aug 13, 2021, 8:27 pm

Can I ask a favor of everyone. If your going to reference the end of a book or discuss the death of a major character please mark your post with a spoiler alert. I have read all but 2-3 of the above books and wish to reread them since it’s been over 20 years since I’ve been hooked on her writing.