Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.
As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.
Patricia Bracewell’s second book in the Emma of Normandy trilogy, The Price of Blood, sees the titular heroine mature into a devoted mother, a distrusted wife, and a savvy queen. The story details the early eleventh century, a time of upheaval from within and without Anglo-Saxon England.
With well-drawn characters and a compelling plot, Bracewell has given the readers a story rich in detail, full-fleshed by meticulous research. The daily life and political machinations of the time are vividly depicted. Emma is a strong, resourceful character, and Aethelred—whose perspective is explored in more depth in this tale—is almost Shakespearean in his madness and distrust.
The Price of Blood is a taut, gripping psychological and historical drama. Bracewell has given the reader another memorable tale rife with conflicting loyalties, forbidden love, and duty in the early days of England.
Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, particularly set in pre-Conquest England, and for fans of strong, sympathetic heroines; recommended this series is read in order