The Queen's War: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Jeanne Mackin, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (452p) ISBN 978-0-312-04960-7
Mackin ( The French Woman ) takes an incident well known to history buffs but fails to imbue it with either freshness or vivacity. In 1173, the sons of Henry II revolted against their father and monarch, in a plot masterminded by their mother, the estranged and dynamic queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, and abetted by Eleanor's former husband, Louis VII of France. Mackin's feminist account of the conflict paints a doleful picture of 12th-century life, extensively researched and readable, but lacking in excitement. Three heroines--Eleanor, her gimpy little astrologer Sophia and comely runaway serf Lucie (who goes from traveling player to dungeon detainee to retainer at Eleanor's Poitiers court)--share billing with a large cast of knights, nobles, misogynist monks, peasants, players, princes, poets and townspeople. They move through a panorama of forests, towns, meadows, monasteries, castles and churches, amid scenes of chivalry and courtly love (and the hayloft variety as well); feasts, fetes and royal hunts; sieges, sackings, rape and pillage; and even a witch-dunking. Unfortunately, these characters engage in interminable philosophical musing, much of it repetitious. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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