Shadow on the Crown: A Novel

Shadow on the Crown: A Novel

by Patricia Bracewell

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A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen

In 1002, fifteen­-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101606193
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/07/2013
Series: Emma of Normandy Trilogy , #1
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 7,865
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Patricia Bracewell grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. She holds an M.A. in English Literature and her historical research has taken her to Britain, France and Denmark. She has two grown sons, and she lives with her husband in Oakland, California.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Using the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as her marker, Patricia Bracewell has produced a magnificent work of historical fiction, evoking time and place in a remarkable way, and engaging the reader firmly in her story.” – The Daily Mail (UK)
“Bracewell’s portrayal of Emma… is a real tour de force. A five star debut!” – Historical Novels Review
“Bracewell delivers a highly entertaining addition to the historical fiction genre.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“The familiar themes of political rivalry, court scandal, and disputed lineage so often explored in historical fiction get a new cast of schemers and scoundrels set in a less familiar but no less dramatic period of English history. Readers of historical sagas and romances will embrace this rich narrative.” – Library Journal

“What a great book!  A fascinating, little-known period of history, a tense, exciting story, and characters who spring as naturally from their own time as mushrooms from the forest floor.” – Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series

“Who could have known that the court of Aethelred the Unready was as full of intrigue, passion, and danger as anything in Tudor times?  A well-wrought journey back to those little known times, this novel entertains while it educates.” – Margaret George, author of Elizabeth I: A Novel

"A stellar achievement.” – Adrienne McDonnell, author of The Doctor and The Diva

"A woman whose spirit will not be vanquished, Emma of Normandy will live in your heart long after you finish the last page.” – Ella March Chase, author of Three Maids for a Crown

"From the moment I picked up the book it captivated me, calling me back and back again until I abandoned everything to finish it in a breathless rush. Brava!” – Emma Campion, author of The King’s Mistress

“Shadow on the Crown drew me in from the first page and held me in its grip...  a vivid and compelling tale.” – Gillian Bagwell, author of The September Queen

Customer Reviews

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Shadow on the Crown: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
Great Surprise! I admittedly love historical fiction about British royalty, but I also admit I want it well researched and well-written. This novel delivers on every level. Taking on the largely mysterious lives of the Pre-Norman Aethelred and Queen Emma, Bracewell does a superb job of keeping your attention. The action moves at a swift, attention-grabbing pace. This is a rare book where I lost track of time, only to be disappointed I was almost finished. Be warned, however, that keeping track of the very similiar names and complex relationships can take time; however, once you have it... I realize this is a planned trilogy, but the wait for Book Two will be difficult. I hope Bracewell has made much progress with that second novel.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'Shadow on the Crown' is a beautifully written novel set in the year 1002 that follows young Emma of Normandy as she is sent across the Narrow Sea from her home to wed the much older King Athelred of England. After being thrown into a new land and a new kingdom, she must deal with a husband who doesn't trust her, stepchildren who despise her, and another woman who will do anything to get her hands on the crown. Emma must learn to adapt to her new role as Queen and she makes alliances with men at court in order to win the love of her English people. Soon Emma finds herself falling in love with a man who is not her husband, the king, all while dealing with the dangerous threat of a Viking invasion that would threaten not only her role as Queen, but her life as well. I don't normally read much historical fiction, but this book's description had me intrigued as it was set in medieval England and the surrounding area. I thought that a book with a strong female lead during that time would prove to be fascinating. Well, I was definitely not disappointed with this book. Emma proves to be a strong young woman who must mature and adapt to her new life quickly. She is brave, courageous, loyal, and self-assured - all great qualities for a Queen and as the novel's leading lady. The other characters weren't as rounded as she was, but they all provided the required situations and relational ties - both good and bad - that Emma needed in order to grow as a character. The setting was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the time period as well as the varying locales found throughout the novel. The writing was what really got to me. The author has a magical way of writing that draws the reader into the scenario at hand - whatever it may be. I found myself easily imagining the story unfolding while I felt I was amongst the characters. I could shut my eyes and see what the author was describing, which is a marvelous trait that not all writers have. The writing itself was wonderful and had a solid plot and pace that felt natural. Overall, I loved this magnificent adventure back in time to witness the brave life of Emma and the opportunity to love her and root for her throughout the book. I very highly recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction as well as to readers who love a fantastic story told by a truly enchanting author. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
kopsahl More than 1 year ago
In this stunning debut of a planned trilogy, Bracewell tackles the life of Emma of Normandy who was sent to marry King Aethelred of England in the place of her ailing sister in 1002 A.D. One condition that was requested by Emma’s father, Richard of Normandy, was that Aethelred would anoint her as queen which leads to Aethelred instantly regretting his decision after their marriage. Aethelred already paranoid and mistrusting of everyone around him turns his anger towards his young wife. Emma learns fast that she must tread lightly and that having a son would be the only way to secure her position but even she can predict what Aethelred might do next. Aethelred’s oldest son Athelstan is instantly attracted to his father’s new wife even though he knows it is forbidden. He also knows he should fear that Emma bears a son to replace him in line for the throne because his father has no love for his eldest son and is constantly berating and humiliating him in public. Emma is thrown to wolves when she comes to England. Even with her vast knowledge in languages she is unfamiliar with court politics and her eyes are opened wide when her rival Elgiva of Northampton comes to court and insinuates herself in the King’s bed in hopes of him setting aside Emma. Emma knows she needs to win the hearts of the people of England and forge some alliances with some influential men because Swein Forkbeard and the Vikings are knocking at the front doors and ready to take over England in revenge for the St. Brice’s Day Massacre in which Aethelred ordered the extermination of all Danes that included Forkbeard’s sister. Bracewell does a remarkable job mixing the real events in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle with her own imagination without detracting from the heart of the story. She weaves a story of innocence lost, treachery, hope and love that ends with Emma realizing that she must do whatever needs to be done to make her son the next king. This was a refreshing storyline and I look forward to the next installment. (DRC was received via publisher in exchange for an honest review)
bettysunflower More than 1 year ago
Emma of Normandy married King Athelred (aged approx 40) in 1002 as a sixteen year old bride. Her older sister had been the original choice, however, her mother felt that she was not strong enough to fill the position. Emma knows all that is as stake for her and for all the people involved an she approaches her marriage with open arms and a willing heart. The King was married before and has eleven children from what appears to be a rather cold and loveless marriage. Athelred's fist wife was his 'consort', however, Emma's brother negotiated the title of "Queen" for Emma. Emma is very wise and mature for her age as she 'navigates' her way through the political issues surrounding the King. She finds herself with a rather cold husband who seems to be fairly disinterested in his younger children. I was impressed with this book and once I began reading I had trouble putting it down. I was very surprised to see that this is the authors first book as it is so well presented and is an easy flowing read. I also discovered that it is the first of a trilogy and look forward to reading more of Emma Queen of England.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Emma of Normandy, the great-aunt of William the Conqueror, was wife to two English Kings, and mother to two others. King Aethelred the Unready sought her hand in marriage to secure Normandy as an ally to England. Despite the fact he dislikes her, she bears him two sons, Alfred and Edward the Confessor. Because Aethelred already had sons from a previous marriage, the succession to the crown for Emma’s two sons was far from certain.    When Aethelred died, Canute the Great showed came knocking at her door seeking marriage. This time, Emma insisted that any sons born to her from this marriage be given preference to succeed as king over Canute’s son from his previous marriage. Before he would agree, the cunning Canute demanded tit for tat – Emma must also repudiate the claims of her own sons to the crown of England in favor of their future sons. This she did, alienating her sons, shattering their trust in her, and rendering their relationship cold and distant from that day forward. Emma reigned happily as Canute's queen for eighteen years. Together they had one son, Hardicanute. When Canute died, however, all promises made seemed to hold no weight. Discord broke out between all their sons from both marriages as they battled young Hardicanute for the crown. When Canute’s eldest son claims the throne of England, Emma is sent into exile. After much bloodshed, both sons of Canute, as well as her son Alfred, were killed. Her son Edward the Confessor, who wisely stayed out of the conflict and never sought the throne, ended up with the crown of England. Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell tells the fascinating story of Emma of Normandy. With flowing narrative, Emma’s life is brought to light in great detail and foresight. From Viking attacks to deadly family conflicts, this novel is so brilliantly written that I could not put it down. I was engaged to the very end. Aethelred’s dislike and lack of respect for Emma is poignant, her unhappiness heart-wrenchingly depicted. Amid a hostile court, Emma perseveres and struggles to make her way and define her role. It is a story of love, hate, betrayal, and perseverance. Riveting from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this story! Will read the next books. Very well done,great story teller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story has a strong heroine who has to navigate a rather treacherous path. I know the author has embellished the history to make it interesting, but it feels authentic. Yes royal marriages may not have been the romantic love relationships we may think they should be, especially with biases due to lineage that may have been felt in some regions within England. I like the liberties that this author has taken and feel the story is believeable and interesting and makes Emma more realistic to readers. What a wonderful journey the reader goes on with multiple points of view given. It allows the reader perpective for motivations for various people who interact with the main characters. We see lots of envy, jealousy, and sadly the pain and suffering of royal family members. Life is no picnic for these royals. We see pains felt by rivals and are able to see the extremes to which they will go to better their situation. I look forward to all future installments of this trilogy. This is a book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction such as ones about King Arthur.
pagese More than 1 year ago
I confess to knowing next to nothing about this time period. I'm familiar with William the Conquer who is descended from these people. But, that is about as far back as my English history knowledge really goes. This was a brutal time period. I know that in this time period women were little more than property. Men often took what they felt was rightfully theirs and sometimes did so by force. Keeping a mistress on the side was common place, and wives were expected to look the other way. But honestly, this took that idea to a whole new level. It was extremely graphic, but I was reminded that even in the historical fiction time period I tend to read, women were still progressing forward. I loved Emma. I think she knew from the start that her place as wife and Queen would not be easy. She was a bargaining tool and nothing more. At any moment, someone could go back on the agreement made when she was married and place her in danger. But, she also held power that women before her lacked. She was made Queen and gave birth to a son that contested the line of heirs. She never wavered in her beliefs to get what she felt she deserved. King Athelred was an interesting character. There were times that I thought if he gave Emma half a chance he might actually grow to love her. But, all he can see is his resentment and fear. His own paranoia and delusions are really what drive this story to his breaking point. He refuses to see reason from any of his advisers. He is convinced his sons are trying to take the thrown from him. His thought process and actions lead to so many horrible repercussions. This is suppose to be the first in a series. I would be interested to read the next one. Emma kind of comes off as calculating at the end. The little research I've done makes her seem less than that. Although I do find in fascinating that she was the wife of 2 kings, mother to 2 kings, and stepmother to 2 kings. What a lineage to pass on!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shadow in the Crown is a convincing, well written work of historical fiction. Medieval England is one of my favorite time periods and the plot moves along quickly here as Queen Emma faces the reality of the times for women. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, interspersed with the plot, anoints the book with an authenticity that helps the reader suspend disbelief. The usual themes of pride, jealously, betrayal and abandonment are explored in depth from Bracewell's rich imagination. I am eagerly anticipating book two of the trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very easy to get into and very hard to put down. Cant wait for the next one!
anniemichelle More than 1 year ago
This book which is based on real events recorded in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle had me from the first page and kept me turning pages well into the night… Our story starts out on Dec. 24 of 1001 in Normandy, amidst one of the coldest winters in recent memories. 15 yr. old Emma is arguing with her sister about going out in the frigid weather just to Check on her horse. Making her way outside to the stables Emma hears men approaching and hides behind her horse as her brother and the frightening & powerful king Swein Forkbeard come to put up their horses, she hears the conversation turning towards her and her older sister. It Seems time to be marrying off The sisters… And so begins the incredible journey of Emma, soon to be married to the much older King Athelred of England, who hates her on site as well as his sons who mistrust her and a mistress who wishes she were dead. The only way for Emma to have any power or respect at all is to have a son for her king. Emma goes through many exciting and horrific times while trying to keep her King and her crown. This was an education for me as well as a very, very good read. I could not imagine growing up in such a time when women were basically just baby makers. I must say one of my favorite parts of this book were the humorous and tongue twisting names! This is the first book in a trilogy, which is good in that there will be more books and bad as now I have to wait for the next two books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was outstanding!!!!! the characters come to life. ms bracewell does an excellant job of making you feel as if you were right there with emma. i can't wait until the next book comes out
AngieJG More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a read. I enjoyed this book very much. I stayed up so late reading last night that my eyes hurt and I have a headache. I  love that it is part of a series, but I hate that I have to wait for most likely a long time before the next installment.  Though I loved the book, I just did not like any of the characters. Hopefully, book 2 will provide some much needed likable characters!
Anonymous 12 days ago
Enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you Love History you will love this book!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the characters and story. A bit violent but didn’t dwell on it. Lots of strength in Emma which gave the book buoyancy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where one of the Danish characters called one of the British characters a piece of carrion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plenty of adventure and just enough romance to keep me turning the pages eagerly. Looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I expected a historical fiction with a touch of romance, when I got more I was pleasantly surprised. If you want the above with political agendas and several different perspectives you will truly enjoy. Oh yes, and a well written first novel doesn't hurt either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LanaGirl More than 1 year ago
Simply Wonderful. Beautifully written. Great characterization. So much so, I simply didn't want the book to end. This isn't my typical book that I pick up. I am an avid reader, but I don't typically buy historical fiction.However, this is such a captivating story, and so wonderfully written, I will be the first in line to read the equal when it comes. A fast paced, exciting read that you don't want to end. 
RDH_SC More than 1 year ago
Great story - looking forward to the next however I always fear trilogies because the cadence and repetition become boring by book 3.  I hope that I am proved wrong as I could not put the first down.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago