Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Blood of The Fifth Knight by E.M. Powell

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours/Netgalley
Read: December 24, 2014

England, 1176. King Henry II has imprisoned his rebellious Queen for attempting to overthrow him. But with her conspirators still at large and a failed assassination attempt on his beautiful mistress, Rosamund Clifford, the King must take action to preserve his reign. Desperate, Henry turns to the only man he trusts: a man whose skills have saved him once before. Sir Benedict Palmer answers the call, mistakenly believing that his family will remain safe while he attends to his King. As Palmer races to secure the throne for the King, neither man senses the hand of a brilliant schemer, a mystery figure loyal to Henry’s traitorous Queen who will stop at nothing to see the King defeated.

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Eleanor prepares to poison Rosamund in a
Pre-Raphaelite painting by Evelyn De Morgan
It's been almost a year since I read E.M. Powell's The Fifth Knight, but her follow-up novel took me right back. From the first page, it was as if not a day had passed since I was introduced to Benedict Palmer and Theodosia and I was very impressed with how easily the author managed to continue their story. 

Like its predecessor, Blood of the Fifth Knight struck me for Powell's ability to create dramatic tension around an event I was already familiar with. Henry's relationship with Rosamund Clifford was not new to me, but Powell painted it in a new and intriguing light. The drama in her presentation nicely balances the predictability of history and legend, allowing even those in the know be swept up in the telling.

Speaking of balance, I can't express how much I appreciate Powell's evenhanded approach to the masculine and feminine elements of this story. The social rhythms of medieval society often lend themselves to one-sided fiction and I think it remarkable that Powell was able to find middle ground with such material.

Strictly speaking I think it possible to read the books as stand-alone novels, but I personally wouldn't recommend it. Becket's legacy is as much a character of the second novel as his person was the first and I feel the beauty in that best understood by those who've tackled the books chronologically.

Bottom line, I enjoyed The Blood of the Fifth Knight as much as I did its predecessor. An exciting historical that combines murder, mystery, romance and conspiracy.

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Forget knighthood, kingdoms, battles. The murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, the murder that Henry now did penance for. The murder that he, Sir Benedict Palmer, had been present at. What mattered now was to keep his family safe.
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Check Out All the Stops on E.M. Powell's The Blood of the Fifth Knight Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, January 1
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, January 2
Spotlight at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, January 5
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Thursday, January 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, January 12
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, January 13
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, January 14
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Friday, January 16
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Saturday, January 17
Interview at Dianne Ascroft
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Monday, January 19
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, January 20
Review at Books and Benches
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Wednesday, January 21
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, January 28
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, January 30
Review at Bookramblings
Sunday, February 1
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, February 2
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch
Tuesday, February 3
Review at Layered Pages
Spotlight at Let them Read Books
Wednesday, February 4
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, February 6
Review at The Never-Ending Book

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