Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rebel Princess

I just finished these 2 books by Judith Koll Healey. She takes a princess from history, and weaves it into a fictional story of intrigue, murder and plots to overthrow the King, her brother. I liked these books because they were easy to read, and I also liked the main character, Princess Alais.
In these two books, you follow Princess Alais on some adventures. In The Canterbury Papers, she is asked to find some papers of her stepmother Eleanor of Aquitaine. She decides to take a few knights with her to the abbey where Thomas a Becket, a saint, had been murdered. Her stepmother supposedly had some letters hidden there that she wanted Alais to get for her. While there, there is a murdered body found near to her chambers. She also comes back to find her rooms ransacked twice, but nothing missing. While she tries to get the letters, she is kidnapped by her brother in law and his wife. They steal a necklace of hers that is very popular because of who made it, and she escapes with the help of a childhood friend, William. She later finds out he is in the Knights Templar and is helping the King, her brother Phillipe.
In this book you also find out that Princess Alais had a child. Her father was King Louis, the first husband to her stepmother Queen Eleanor. She grew up with Eleanor's children in England, and with Eleanor's second husband, King Henry. When the King and Queen were estranged, Alais came to know the King better. She was betrothed to marry his son Richard the Lionheart, but was used as a pawn. The King seduced her and they had a child. The child was secretly taken away, and Alais thought him dead. Since she had been the King's mistress, she obviously didn't marry Richard.
Princess Alais then lived at court in France with her brother the King Phillipe. She often assisted him in his duties, as he was not on good terms with his wife. At the conclusion of the first book, Alais meets up once again with her stepmother Queen Eleanor. I wonder what their true relationship was, considering that her stepdaughter slept with her husband and had a child with him. Alais meets her son Francis, who is alive, but she doesn't yet tell him she is his mother. There are rumors about that there is a usuprer to the throne, and she doesn't want to put him in danger. She falls in love with her childhood friend William.
In the second book, we follow Alais again as she goes on an adventure to save her son Francis. He is abducted by an evil abbe, because they think he has a sacred chalice. She soon becomes embroiled in plots and intrigue. She meets some women that agree to aid her on her mission, and they dress up as nuns. They visit an abbey in the hopes of finding Francis. While there they do find him, and they smuggle him out. Princess Alais dresses up as a man and travels separately from the party. She ends up being almost killed and robbed once or twice. Finally she meets up with some of her knights, and they make it back safely. She is reunited with her son Francis, where she tells him his true parentage. She also reunites with her love, William of Caen.
I kept this review short because the religious details went kind of over my head. At this time, there was a war brewing over the Cathar religion. I mostly enjoyed this book for the adventures Alais goes on, and her wit and spirit. You will just have to read it if you want the details:)

1 comment:

  1. What a fun blog! You're inspiring me to read more. I'm currently in the middle of Little Women and loving it! Have you thought about starting a ward book club? I know that most of the Relief Societies I've been in have had one. I wonder if there's any interest around here?