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Time and Chance

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In When Christ and His Saints Slept, acclaimed historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman portrayed all the deceit, danger, and drama of Henry II's ascension to the throne. Now, in Time and Chance, she continues the ever-more-captivating tale. It was medieval England's immortal marriage--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to le In When Christ and His Saints Slept, acclaimed historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman portrayed all the deceit, danger, and drama of Henry II's ascension to the throne. Now, in Time and Chance, she continues the ever-more-captivating tale. It was medieval England's immortal marriage--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to leave a legacy of greatness. But while lust would divide them, it was friendship--and ultimately faith--that brought bloodshed into their midst. It began with Thomas Becket, Henry's closest confidant, and his elevation to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It ended with a perceived betrayal that made a royal murder seem inevitable. Along the way were enough scheming, seductions, and scandals to topple any kingdom but their own. . . . Only Sharon Kay Penman can re-create this truly tumultuous time--and capture the couple who loved power as much as each other . . . and a man who loved God most of all.


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In When Christ and His Saints Slept, acclaimed historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman portrayed all the deceit, danger, and drama of Henry II's ascension to the throne. Now, in Time and Chance, she continues the ever-more-captivating tale. It was medieval England's immortal marriage--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to le In When Christ and His Saints Slept, acclaimed historical novelist Sharon Kay Penman portrayed all the deceit, danger, and drama of Henry II's ascension to the throne. Now, in Time and Chance, she continues the ever-more-captivating tale. It was medieval England's immortal marriage--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to leave a legacy of greatness. But while lust would divide them, it was friendship--and ultimately faith--that brought bloodshed into their midst. It began with Thomas Becket, Henry's closest confidant, and his elevation to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It ended with a perceived betrayal that made a royal murder seem inevitable. Along the way were enough scheming, seductions, and scandals to topple any kingdom but their own. . . . Only Sharon Kay Penman can re-create this truly tumultuous time--and capture the couple who loved power as much as each other . . . and a man who loved God most of all.

30 review for Time and Chance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    Not quite as dramatic and exciting as When Christ and His Saints Slept, but still good. What I found especially fascinating about this book is the way it proves how history can look so vastly different depending on your perspective. We learned about St Thomas Becket in my Catholic high school-- the brave martyr who stood his ground against a king and was assassinated for it. Funny how different it looks here. How Thomas comes off as a zealot who becomes so deeply entrenched in his beliefs and re Not quite as dramatic and exciting as When Christ and His Saints Slept, but still good. What I found especially fascinating about this book is the way it proves how history can look so vastly different depending on your perspective. We learned about St Thomas Becket in my Catholic high school-- the brave martyr who stood his ground against a king and was assassinated for it. Funny how different it looks here. How Thomas comes off as a zealot who becomes so deeply entrenched in his beliefs and religious principles that he doesn’t care who he betrays or who gets hurt as a result. He wanted priests who committed crimes to be tried by the church and not by the crown courts, but this often meant that those who had raped and murdered got away with a telling off or a fine. And he turned his back on the friends who helped him get where he was. Penman still portrays him somewhat sympathetically, though. Instead of a brave self-sacrificing hero, he is a well-meaning man corrupted by religion and his fanatical devotion to outdated church doctrine. He makes for a pitiful figure in the end; not a hero, but not a villain either. Onto the next book! Facebook | Instagram

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    TIME AND CHANCE picks up where WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT off. In the second novel, we follow Henry II who was but a boy as his mother, Maude, fought for the throne. In the end, Maude and her opponent tired each other out for almost twenty years, agreeing to leave the throne to her son. Henry's rise looked promising as he had a distinguished battle record and married the beautiful and clever Eleanor of Aquitaine, making him the wealthiest man in Europe. But, Henry's future rule proved to no TIME AND CHANCE picks up where WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT off. In the second novel, we follow Henry II who was but a boy as his mother, Maude, fought for the throne. In the end, Maude and her opponent tired each other out for almost twenty years, agreeing to leave the throne to her son. Henry's rise looked promising as he had a distinguished battle record and married the beautiful and clever Eleanor of Aquitaine, making him the wealthiest man in Europe. But, Henry's future rule proved to not be so lacking in turbulence. One of his first challenges dealt in trying to conquer Wales which only resulted in many dead and lost time. Things proved better on the mainland where unruly French vassals tried to break away. True to his past, Henry spent a great deal of time in the saddle bruising his unruly vassals. During this time, Eleanor was having child after child, yet beginning to resent Henry b/c he was ignoring her advice and spending less and less time with her. Overall, the main challenge to Henry was the Thomas Beckett affair, which resulted in a showdown between the Church and Henry's rule. As many History buffs know, Henry prevailed at first but suffered later when Beckett was slain by vassals to Henry. A good part of this novel covers the actual Historical meetings, conversations and friendship erosion of Henry and Beckett. I would put this below WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT, as well as SUNNE IN THE SPLENDOUR. It is definitely better than the mystery trilogy she did on the side for fun, but most likely a notch below the Welsh trilogy. The Sunne in Splendour OVERALL GRADE: B to B plus.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Krista Claudine Baetiong

    Another great work by Sharon Kay Penman! I didn’t find it as engaging as the first installment, When Christ and His Saints Slept (maybe it’s because reading about the enigmatic Thomas Becket and his unwarranted self-sacrifice—in my opinion—wore me out), but it's still a page-turner nonetheless. After finishing this book I have gained so much admiration for Henry II, flaws and all. He must’ve been truly exceptional to have most of the realm’s good men rallying and even dying for him. I’m not one i Another great work by Sharon Kay Penman! I didn’t find it as engaging as the first installment, When Christ and His Saints Slept (maybe it’s because reading about the enigmatic Thomas Becket and his unwarranted self-sacrifice—in my opinion—wore me out), but it's still a page-turner nonetheless. After finishing this book I have gained so much admiration for Henry II, flaws and all. He must’ve been truly exceptional to have most of the realm’s good men rallying and even dying for him. I’m not one into appreciating the grand privileges and affluence afforded to persons of noble birth, but for him, I’d easily make an exception. :-) Postscript: I still enjoyed the exploits of my favorite fictional hero, Ranulf, and was saddened by the fate of the Poet Prince, Hywel.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    "Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to men of skill but time and chance happen to them all." - Ecclesiastes "What miserable drones and traitors I have nourished and promoted in my household, who let their lord be mocked so shamefully by a lowborn clerk!" -Henry II Henry, Second of His Name, is now King of England. His marriage to Eleanor of Aquitane makes him the first Plantagenet King "Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to men of skill but time and chance happen to them all." - Ecclesiastes "What miserable drones and traitors I have nourished and promoted in my household, who let their lord be mocked so shamefully by a lowborn clerk!" -Henry II Henry, Second of His Name, is now King of England. His marriage to Eleanor of Aquitane makes him the first Plantagenet King and founder of a dynasty that will rule for nigh on 300 years. But heavy indeed is the head the wears the crown. This second book in the story of Henry and Eleanor starts in 1156. It covers the period from 1156 to 1171. It primarily revolves around three major concepts. The first and foremost is a great deal of conflict and trouble caused by Henry's rebellious vassal lords and lands. While the marriage of Henry and Eleanor have created a powerful entity in the Angevin Empire (England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland and Western half of France. Also for a period ruler of Scotland, Wales, and the Duchy of Brittany), holding on to these lands and having them to submit to his authority is something of an interminable chore. The vast majority of the book is devoted to Henry running around his holdings trying to put down rebels. The second major plotline revolves around the degenerating relationship between Eleanor and Henry, due to his lust for Rosamund Clifford, daughter of the Marcher Lord Walter de Clifford, who was known as "Rosa Mundi" (Rose of the World) for her beauty. This destroys the genuine affection between Henry and Eleanor. Though the consequences are not evident, yet, it will have harsh effects later on with Henry and his relationship with his equally power-hungry family. The third, and likely most famous, the plot revolves around Henry's best friend and Chancellor- Thomas Becket. Against Eleanor's advice, Henry elevates Becket to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. This makes him the most senior and powerful prelate in England and a thorn in Henry's side. Becket was placed in that position due to Henry believing that the worldly and secular Becket would make it easy for the King and the Church to get along. Henry did not count on Becket catching the "God bug" and becoming a truly religious person. From flaggelation, to the wearing of hair shirts, Becket throws himself wholeheartedly into the role. Sadly, as is often the case with the highest levels of the Church, Becket seems to conflate his wishes and glory with that of God. This friction will have huge consequences for Henry and, in fact, England itself. While the quote from Henry that I place at the start of this review is the correct and accurate statement (supported by several authoritative sources and Edward Grim, a monk from Cambridge intimately involved in this fracas), perhaps most laymen are more familiar with the phrase "Will none of these lazy insignificant persons, whom I maintain, deliver me from this turbulent priest?", which is then shortened to "who shall deliver me from this turbulent priest?" Both quotes are derived from The Chronicle of the Kings of England written in 1821. A superbly written and accurate (with a few minor embellishments that detract nothing from the overall historical accuracy) story of the rule of the first Plantagenet King of England. Highly recommended to any history fan, especially those interested in the Plantagenet Dynasty.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Heavily politically orientated, the second installment of the early Plantagenets. Henry II is one of my historical heroes, not for being heroic (though he was a very able warrior and leader) but for his establishment of the basis of our legal system and the imposition of peace (relatively!) in England after the catastrophic years of the Anarchy. His success in achieving control over an empire consisting of England and most of France is truly astonishing. He was a very controlling man and Ms Penm Heavily politically orientated, the second installment of the early Plantagenets. Henry II is one of my historical heroes, not for being heroic (though he was a very able warrior and leader) but for his establishment of the basis of our legal system and the imposition of peace (relatively!) in England after the catastrophic years of the Anarchy. His success in achieving control over an empire consisting of England and most of France is truly astonishing. He was a very controlling man and Ms Penman makes a good psychological case for this over the two novels, showing how his parents' mutual attempts at destruction of each other may have affected him and exaggerated a need for control and also how it affected his desire to have the future of his own sons settled within his lifetime. The tragedy of this noble aim was that he could not let go of any control to his sons leading to utter mayhem and the breakdown of his relationships with all of them. It's a tragically modern dysfunctional family and illustrates so well how little people have changed. Susan Howatch rather brilliantly reset this story into the late Victorian through to WWII period and it was entirely believable. You could reset it into today and it would work. The whole sorry saga of Henry and Thomas Becket plays out through this novel. Why did Becket turn on Henry after being such a fast friend? Who can know? Ms Penman sees Becket as a chameleon, able to be what the person he was with wanted him to be but that doesn't answer his extreme (and secret) piety as it was exposed at his murder - the hair shirt and scourging etc. I suspect that rather than being a chameleon he was a perfectionist and once he took holy orders (at Henry's behest) he tried to serve God as perfectly as he had previously served his King. Unfortunately the two jobs were mutually preclusive of doing both to perfection; he had to choose and God won. Another thing I have noted on re-reading this is how much more fascinating the politics of the thing are now that I am not so focused on human relationship as I was when younger. History becomes ever more absorbing as a result. An absolutely excellent novel and her best written so far.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    The reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine was nothing short of dramatic from their personal lives to politics to that of religious undertones. Add Thomas Becket to the mix and it was a soap opera to the extreme. Sharon Kay Penman follows up “When Christ and his Saints Slept” with the second book in the series, “Time and Chance”. “Time and Chance” picks up the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II a few years after “When Christ and his Saints Slept”. In usual Penman style, “Time and Cha The reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine was nothing short of dramatic from their personal lives to politics to that of religious undertones. Add Thomas Becket to the mix and it was a soap opera to the extreme. Sharon Kay Penman follows up “When Christ and his Saints Slept” with the second book in the series, “Time and Chance”. “Time and Chance” picks up the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II a few years after “When Christ and his Saints Slept”. In usual Penman style, “Time and Chance” begins slowly establishing a multitude of figures/characters and the setting by recapping events from the first novel which can bog down readers. Too often, nothing is truly happening in “Time and Chance” and the characters merely discuss everything through dialogue. The reader is left hoping something happens (which barely does) and that there is less talk and more action. Sadly, this is a common thread in “Time and Chance” as the plot is simply too slow. The novel contains marvelous characters filled with intrigue but doesn’t truly show the woven web. There is a lack of development resulting in “Time and Chance” feeling quite stiff while the reader does not bond to the characters or story properly. Penman does ,however, incorporate beautiful literary language into her prose which is delightful and makes the setting feel real due to the high level of detail (sometimes, too much detail). “Time and Chance” gains the advantage of being vivid and illustrative in the storytelling. One of the main issues with “Time and Chance” is that the formative characters (Henry, Eleanor, and Thomas) are weak and aren’t on the forefront. The reader is therefore provided a bigger overall view of events but there isn’t anyone in particular to ‘follow’ which slows down “Time and Chance”. Penman’s presentation of the relationship between Henry and Becket is emotionally charged in regards to the events/dialogue occurring. However, there are large chronological time lapses and Penman doesn’t cohesively offer a viewpoint of how or why their friendship fell apart. Thus, “Time and Chance” gets a boost in reader anticipation but also leaves with unanswered questions. As Penman’s novel progresses, it is slightly off course and disjoined with various storylines covered but the feeling of, “Oh let’s talk about that” or “We need to return to this” being the general tone. “Time and Chance” basically is a bit of a filler novel and appears to set-up events and a plot but doesn’t necessarily have any true action. Again: too much talking but not enough doing. The final quarter of “Time and Chance” adds an emotional burst with the depiction of Becket’s assassination. Even those familiar with the history will feel highly visual descriptions, truly bringing the event to life. Sadly, after this, the text seems pointless and concludes on a meaningless note (but sets up the plot for the next novel). Penman offers an ‘Author’s Note’ to explain some of the historical liberties taken in “Time and Chance” which helps answer some reader questions/discrepancies. “Time and Chance” is a worthy HF novel but notably not as strong as “When Chris and his Saints Slept”. The novel feels slow and a bit more on the filler side than a moving read. It should also be noted that “Time and Chance” doesn’t hold well as a standalone novel and is best read in conjunction with the series after “When Christ and his Saints Slept”. “Time and Chance” isn’t terrible but not as strong as one would expect from the hype.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    5 STARS Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof - Another brilliant compilation by Sharon Kay Penman. This one centering around the lives of Henry II and his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. This story also includes the events that surrounded the life and murder of the now Sainted Thomas Becket, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was nominated for Archbishop by King Henry in 1162, and was murdered by four of his knights in 1170. This was a fascinating time in history, and the story is ca 5 STARS Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof - Another brilliant compilation by Sharon Kay Penman. This one centering around the lives of Henry II and his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. This story also includes the events that surrounded the life and murder of the now Sainted Thomas Becket, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was nominated for Archbishop by King Henry in 1162, and was murdered by four of his knights in 1170. This was a fascinating time in history, and the story is captivatingly told by Penman in her books of historical fiction. There are a few discrepancies of dates, events and characters, but those are fully disclosed in the author's note at the end of the story, to clear up any questions by true scholars of the time. My only complaint regarding the book was the ending. I felt that the story just sort of stalled at the end, leaving too many unanswered questions. I know the story continues in Book 3, Devil's Brood, but I wasn't prepared for the ending when it arrived. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. Outside, the sky was clear, stars gleaming in its ebony vastness like celestial fireflies. It was bitterly cold, and Hywel's every breath trailed after him in pale puffs of smoke. By the way, I am still bitter about Hywel... he was one of my favorites. I listened to this on audiobook which was brilliantly narrated by Anne Flosnik. I highly recommend the audiobook.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dyanna

    Sharon Kay Penman is one of the best author of historical literature, she just knows how to capture the interest of the reader by penning characters that are complex and flawed. If you did not read her works I advise in beginning because her books are really worth the time! I begin this review by saying that I loved more the first volume and this second volume was more a book that prepares the reader for the climax that will surely be in the third volume. We follow the break of friendship between Sharon Kay Penman is one of the best author of historical literature, she just knows how to capture the interest of the reader by penning characters that are complex and flawed. If you did not read her works I advise in beginning because her books are really worth the time! I begin this review by saying that I loved more the first volume and this second volume was more a book that prepares the reader for the climax that will surely be in the third volume. We follow the break of friendship between Henry and Thomas Becket also the fall of his marriage with Eleanor and the affair with Rosamund. Despite Penman's intelligent way of presenting the characters , with the good and bad sides, I still disliked Rosamund Clifford. This are not the first books I read about Henry and Eleanor and every time this female gives me a bad taste in my mouth maybe because Eleanor and Henry really matched each other meanwhile Rosamund seemed a girl in a body of a woman who did not understood politics or Henry but was with Henry only because she was beautiful and she loved Henry unconditional. Ok I get it Jesus also loves us unconditional but that does not mean she must loose her respect for herself. Meanwhile Eleanor was at the other extreme. I confess she was too ambitious, maybe if she did not manipulated their children against their father I would have loved her but I think she was a too prideful woman who let the resentment for Henry take control of her heart. The relationship between Henry and Eleanor is described as an equal and I loved that; I mean they really were on the same page on many things, had brilliant minds and a passion that rare we see in arranged marriages. Too bad that they let things come between them because they really could have aged beautiful in their marriage and could have fortified their marriage if only they could have had compromised! I cannot wait to read the last volume were the sons go against their father!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Sometimes the titles are a tad confusing, but I have managed to read most of Penman's books and have always enjoyed them for her ability to bring these figures of history to life with realistic dialogue and setting descriptions. In this book I admit to admiring her fictional character Ranulf very much indeed. The reading of this rather long book took some time and it was rewarding for me. Kindle Purchase Sometimes the titles are a tad confusing, but I have managed to read most of Penman's books and have always enjoyed them for her ability to bring these figures of history to life with realistic dialogue and setting descriptions. In this book I admit to admiring her fictional character Ranulf very much indeed. The reading of this rather long book took some time and it was rewarding for me. Kindle Purchase

  10. 5 out of 5

    Regan Walker

    The Love Affair of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II brought to life! The story in When Christ and His Saints Slept continues with the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II. It’s a captivating tale of a wonderful woman and a king who was often distracted by affairs of his kingdom and his mistress and not careful to let his wife know how she was valued. For that, he would pay a price. It began with Thomas Becket, Henry’s closest confidant, who he elevated to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It end The Love Affair of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II brought to life! The story in When Christ and His Saints Slept continues with the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II. It’s a captivating tale of a wonderful woman and a king who was often distracted by affairs of his kingdom and his mistress and not careful to let his wife know how she was valued. For that, he would pay a price. It began with Thomas Becket, Henry’s closest confidant, who he elevated to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It ended with a perceived betrayal that made a royal murder seem inevitable. Along the way were enough scheming, seductions, and scandals to topple any kingdom but their own. Penman weaves an intricate story that will draw you in with great attention to historic detail, making up for gaps in the historic record with wonderful fiction. Ranulf, Henry’s fictional uncle, returns to show us life in Wales, which I loved. There are some dark moments with the murder of an archbishop and a Welsh prince. The ending is clearly a transport to book 3 so it leaves many questions unanswered. The Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy: When Christ and His Saints Slept Time and Chance Devil’s Brood

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    It pains me to give anything by Sharon Kay Penman fewer than 4 or 5 stars, because she's one of my favorite authors. But this book just didn't fascinate me like her others did. Usually I am completely engrossed by her writing, but I never really felt a connection to these characters. It's an interesting story--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II and the murder of Thomas Becket--but for some reason I never really got into it. I just don't think it's as well written as some of her other books. It pains me to give anything by Sharon Kay Penman fewer than 4 or 5 stars, because she's one of my favorite authors. But this book just didn't fascinate me like her others did. Usually I am completely engrossed by her writing, but I never really felt a connection to these characters. It's an interesting story--Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II and the murder of Thomas Becket--but for some reason I never really got into it. I just don't think it's as well written as some of her other books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christy English

    Like most of Sharon Kay Penman's work, this novel is one I come back to from time to time and enjoy again. I just read TIME AND CHANCE again over the holiday weekend, and as always, Sharon's work took me back to the past. I spend a lot of time with Eleanor and Henry in my own work, so it was wonderfully refreshing to see characters I love from her point of view. Her research is impeccable, and the stength of it, as well as her love for her characters comes through in her novels. If you haven't r Like most of Sharon Kay Penman's work, this novel is one I come back to from time to time and enjoy again. I just read TIME AND CHANCE again over the holiday weekend, and as always, Sharon's work took me back to the past. I spend a lot of time with Eleanor and Henry in my own work, so it was wonderfully refreshing to see characters I love from her point of view. Her research is impeccable, and the stength of it, as well as her love for her characters comes through in her novels. If you haven't read her yet, run and get her books. If you are a fan of the Plantagenets as I am, you won't be sorry.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pixton

    I really enjoyed this though it was much slower than its predecesor, When Christ and His Saints Slept. It's also shorter, but a necessary step into the third volume. The crux of the conflict is on an important but failing marriage and the puzzling enigma that was Thomas Becket. The conflict isn't about a war, though it does have war, it's about two of King Henry's most important relationships failing. Interesting, but for a book of this size, it can feel a bit weak at times. Also, it could've us I really enjoyed this though it was much slower than its predecesor, When Christ and His Saints Slept. It's also shorter, but a necessary step into the third volume. The crux of the conflict is on an important but failing marriage and the puzzling enigma that was Thomas Becket. The conflict isn't about a war, though it does have war, it's about two of King Henry's most important relationships failing. Interesting, but for a book of this size, it can feel a bit weak at times. Also, it could've used less relating events through dialogue and more showing me what life in this time period was like. All that being said, Penman strings accurate historical facts together, with a few creative liberties, and makes an engaging and compelling story that is also informative.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Evita Skinski

    I unfortunately was quite disappointed with this book. There were some sections that reminded me of her marvelous writing in "Here be Dragons" and "The Sunne in Splendour", but I feel like this book was just overly complicated and slow, with too many characters irrelevant to the plot (and not very well outlined either), and various storylines which didn't seem to have anything to do with each other and honestly could have been spared in benefit of concentrating more on Henry and Eleanor. In no w I unfortunately was quite disappointed with this book. There were some sections that reminded me of her marvelous writing in "Here be Dragons" and "The Sunne in Splendour", but I feel like this book was just overly complicated and slow, with too many characters irrelevant to the plot (and not very well outlined either), and various storylines which didn't seem to have anything to do with each other and honestly could have been spared in benefit of concentrating more on Henry and Eleanor. In no way am I saying that it was a waste of my time. Of course, I still finished it and am giving it three stars, as it was a very valuable history lesson, but sadly just that, and not an exciting and emotional experience, as with Sharon Penman's other books (previously mentioned). Hope I won't be as disappointed with #3 - I'm very interested in Eleanor of A. and I know that I won't read any piece of historical fiction more accurate than Penman's books, so I'm willing to give it a go...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    I recently finished When Christ and His Saints Slept and this is the next in the same series by Penman, covering the reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. The era begins with great promise. Henry's reign brings welcome peace to England after the years of war between his mother and King Stephen, and Henry and Eleanor's domains include England and much of present-day France including Normandy, Brittany, Aquitaine and Poitiers. Henry is a bright, jolly and a natural leader, and he has the bea I recently finished When Christ and His Saints Slept and this is the next in the same series by Penman, covering the reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. The era begins with great promise. Henry's reign brings welcome peace to England after the years of war between his mother and King Stephen, and Henry and Eleanor's domains include England and much of present-day France including Normandy, Brittany, Aquitaine and Poitiers. Henry is a bright, jolly and a natural leader, and he has the beautiful and equally savvy Eleanor by his side, bearing him children one after another. Trouble looms, though, in the form of marital betrayal, a misbegotten war in Wales and the conflict between Henry and Thomas Becket. Henry's fatal flaw is that he has inherited his father's quick temper, and the bright promise of his early reign is shadowed. As in When Christ and His Saints Slept I appreciate Penman's talents as a psychologist of leadership. And the book is certainly well-researched. But it sags under the weight of too much historical detail. For example, it was hard to keep track of all the different bishops and their varying levels of loyalty to Henry versus Becket. The amount of detail about the positions of the bishops was unnecessary to the average reader of historical fiction, and a drag on the plot towards the end. The main dramatic story lines were the rift between Henry & Becket, the rift in Henry's marriage to Eleanor, and Henry's uncle Ranulf's moral dilemma as both an Englishman and a Welshman. But these dramas tended to get lost in tedious detail, so the book was not as good as it could have been, in my opinion. Like my reviews? Check out my blog at http://www.kathrynbashaar.com/blog/

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I'm not sure how or why, but I feel like SKP has gone off the rails somewhat, because this book and its sequels The Devil's Brood and Lionheart do not live up to her earlier work. It seems to me like the books are becoming more a catalogue of events and losing their emphasis on drama and character development. There are battles galore but none of them even approach the action, excitement, and pathos of how she describes the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury in The Sunne in Splendor, or the battle I'm not sure how or why, but I feel like SKP has gone off the rails somewhat, because this book and its sequels The Devil's Brood and Lionheart do not live up to her earlier work. It seems to me like the books are becoming more a catalogue of events and losing their emphasis on drama and character development. There are battles galore but none of them even approach the action, excitement, and pathos of how she describes the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury in The Sunne in Splendor, or the battle of Lewes in Falls the Shadow. In those books, I not only could follow what was going on but I actually felt like I was experiencing it along with the characters. I didn't experience anything even remotely similar in the Plantagenet novels. The Plantagenets are such larger than life personalities (think of all the drama in the film The Lion in Winter), that I wish there were more dramatic scenes along the lines of Edward IV's moving confrontation with his mother Cecily Neville in The Sunne in Splendor. I wonder if maybe her canvas is just becoming too broad in these books? There are so many characters and so many plotlines going on that I don't feel as much for these characters as much as I did for the House of York in her first novel or the de Montforts in Falls the Shadow. The closest I came to being affected was the death of the Young King (Henry and Eleanor's oldest son) in The Devils' Brood. But for the most part, events are narrated in a manner that is way too matter of fact & I just don't think there's enough thought put into how point of view and descriptive detail could be used to add emotional punch to the plot.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elysium

    Did not enjoy this as much as When Christ and His Saints Slept. Mainly because parts including Becket were kinda boring. But I liked Ranulf and the parts concerning Wales.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Celeste

    3.75 stars I think that this book could have easily been a 4-star read--maybe even a 5-star read--if I had the time to read more consistently. I was enjoying it immensely as I was reading it over my break from school but then school started up again and I fell behind terribly. I did, however, get sick on Saturday and was able to finish reading it up while I was recovering but, by then I felt a little bit of a disconnect with the story. Had I been able to read it through as I try to do with any bo 3.75 stars I think that this book could have easily been a 4-star read--maybe even a 5-star read--if I had the time to read more consistently. I was enjoying it immensely as I was reading it over my break from school but then school started up again and I fell behind terribly. I did, however, get sick on Saturday and was able to finish reading it up while I was recovering but, by then I felt a little bit of a disconnect with the story. Had I been able to read it through as I try to do with any book, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more and, therefore, I'll have to shelve it as needing to be reread. Penman did a really good job of bringing Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine to life. I'd not really cared too much about this particular area of history until I watched The Lion in Winter some years ago and, while not the most accurate movie of all time, I found it to be enthralling and captivating. This book was fascinating in its own right and I think it really is the characters who pull the story through. This book covers a huge swath of time and features quite a few characters so, I think, this is another reason that not reading from the book for about two weeks did not really fare too well for me. The cast of characters at the beginning of the book certainly helped to remind me who was who and why they were important. Overall, Penman did a great job of keeping my attention. I was invested in the story and wanted to know what would happen and how. I did not find myself disappointed, though I will admit that there were some parts at which the story lagged and maybe the book could have been just a tiny bit shorter. At any rate, I'll have to reread this sometime and see if I can read through it more cohesively next time!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ulla

    Not as good as part one of the trilogy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    Sharon Kay Penman... What a writer!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    At her best (Sunne in Splendour, Here Be Dragons) Penman is numbered among my favorite authors. Those favorites greatly moved me and are memorable years afterwards. There's only one book of hers I've read I ever found tedious--and that's her recent novel "Lionheart" about Richard the I of England. This particular book is the second in a trilogy about Henry Fitz-Empress, King of England who with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine ruled an empire that rivaled Charlemagne's. The first book, "When Christ At her best (Sunne in Splendour, Here Be Dragons) Penman is numbered among my favorite authors. Those favorites greatly moved me and are memorable years afterwards. There's only one book of hers I've read I ever found tedious--and that's her recent novel "Lionheart" about Richard the I of England. This particular book is the second in a trilogy about Henry Fitz-Empress, King of England who with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine ruled an empire that rivaled Charlemagne's. The first book, "When Christ and His Saints Slept" didn't quite reach the heights of Penman's best for me, but was still fascinating in its contrasting portraits of Henry's mother, Matilda and her cousin Stephen who vied for rule of England. This book is perhaps a notch below that one, but still very entertaining with no dull spots. The pair contrasted and centered upon n this book is the relationship between Henry and Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, If given what I knew about history Matilda was the surprise of the first book, Beckett is the surprise of the second. Beckett is usually presented as, well, a saint--or at least a hero fighting the oppression of the state. The matter isn' so simple as Penman presents it and more often than not it was Beckett I found utterly exasperating--my sympathies by and large were with Henry. The book is also interesting in its picture of the deteriorating marriage between Henry and Eleanor which no doubt is destined for a messy crackup in the next book and last book of the trilogy--"The Devil's Brood"--which I'm already reading and enjoying. If you enjoy works based on medieval history Penman is definitely worth your checking out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Suze

    Wow, it took me a long time to finish this! That's partly because the Olympics were on TV, but mostly because I felt as if I were reading a history book much of the time. While I love historical fiction, I like a bit more fiction mixed in with my history. My eyes glazed over at times, and I admit to passing over some battle scenes and discussions that seemed to go on forever. Repeatedly. I'm surprised, because Penman is one of my favorite authors! I can't think of another book of hers that I have Wow, it took me a long time to finish this! That's partly because the Olympics were on TV, but mostly because I felt as if I were reading a history book much of the time. While I love historical fiction, I like a bit more fiction mixed in with my history. My eyes glazed over at times, and I admit to passing over some battle scenes and discussions that seemed to go on forever. Repeatedly. I'm surprised, because Penman is one of my favorite authors! I can't think of another book of hers that I haven't loved, and I've read many of them. This is the second book of a trilogy about the life of Eleanor of Aquitane and I did enjoy the first book - When Christ and His Saints Slept - because it was, for the most part, about Eleanor. This book was more about Henry II and his betrayal by Thomas Becket, who he appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury. Eleanor wasn't much in evidence throughout much of this book. I think that's part of the disappointment I have in Part Two of the trilogy. To be honest, I'm not certain I want to finish reading the trilogy. I'd rather move on to another historical novel that holds my attention as this did not. I wouldn't recommend this to my friends or my Book Club.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I am a huge fan of Sharon Kay Penman's, and "Time and Chance" did not disappoint, though I found it harder to get through than some of her other works, such as "Lionheart" and "The Sunne in Splendour". I would definitely recommend reading this one close to its predecessor, "When Christ and His Saints Slept", as I waited two years in between the two and some of the story lines had been lost to the mists of time for me. I very much love Penman's attention to detail, however, and I especially appre I am a huge fan of Sharon Kay Penman's, and "Time and Chance" did not disappoint, though I found it harder to get through than some of her other works, such as "Lionheart" and "The Sunne in Splendour". I would definitely recommend reading this one close to its predecessor, "When Christ and His Saints Slept", as I waited two years in between the two and some of the story lines had been lost to the mists of time for me. I very much love Penman's attention to detail, however, and I especially appreciate her original character, Ranulf, uncle to King Henry II-- I regret that he too was not a historical figure! Overall I would highly recommend "Time and Chance" for its beautiful, detailed writing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Peggyzbooksnmusic

    Wow! Loved this as much as "When Christ and His Saints Slept". A very emotional read that is told from different POV's. I'm surprised that my favorite character so far has been Ranulf since he is fictional. Ms. Penman really brings medieval history alive especially the drama with Thomas Becket. She shows how charming yet ruthless Henry II can be and Eleanor is more likeable then I expected. I'm not going to post any spoilers as some may not know the history of this time (I certainly didn't!) but Wow! Loved this as much as "When Christ and His Saints Slept". A very emotional read that is told from different POV's. I'm surprised that my favorite character so far has been Ranulf since he is fictional. Ms. Penman really brings medieval history alive especially the drama with Thomas Becket. She shows how charming yet ruthless Henry II can be and Eleanor is more likeable then I expected. I'm not going to post any spoilers as some may not know the history of this time (I certainly didn't!) but Eleanor experiences her share of heartbreak. The ending left me very excited to read #3, "Devil's Brood", next.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jane Greensmith

    Sharon Kay Penman is one of the best historical fiction authors ever. I loved this book--explained the rift between Henry II and Becket as well as Henry II and Eleanor so clearly and compellingly. The characters are interesting, well-drawn and completely believable in the context of their place in time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Too much exposition via other characters, not enough Henry and Eleanor.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    The review may be found on Facebook.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kiesha ~ Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd

    Not as good as When Christ and His Saints Slept but enjoyable. 4 stars for story, 5 stars for narration.

  29. 5 out of 5

    jrendocrine ?U get guns-we get forced pregnancy??

    I am finally done! There is no doubt that SKP is good at what she does, but this seemingly endless book mostly bored me. I read it for an historical fiction take on Thomas Becket and Henry II. What you get - lots of Eleanor feeling huffy about her husband's dalliances and lack of judgement, lots of Henry having fits of anger. Lots of Welsh side stories causing me to run to Wikipedia time and time again to figure out wazzup with Owain and Hywel. Nothing ever moved much - but the story of this Ange I am finally done! There is no doubt that SKP is good at what she does, but this seemingly endless book mostly bored me. I read it for an historical fiction take on Thomas Becket and Henry II. What you get - lots of Eleanor feeling huffy about her husband's dalliances and lack of judgement, lots of Henry having fits of anger. Lots of Welsh side stories causing me to run to Wikipedia time and time again to figure out wazzup with Owain and Hywel. Nothing ever moved much - but the story of this Angevin king and his queen are interesting, and the why/wherefores as to why Becket was so stubborn so elusive - I just kept on reading. I read Time and Change mostly in the wee hours of the night when I could not sleep, and it also served as a soporific, for which I am grateful.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fornia

    3.5 like the first one, i would have to say that i didn't quite pick up on some of the [very, very many] plot threads, although i picked up on enough that it didn't really bother me very nicely paced-- even though it's really long and took me a good chunk of time to finish, it never feels like it's dragging or moving so fast that you lose track of the narrative overall pretty good! it gets the fornia stamp of approval for medieval his fic all the key characters and most of the side characters feel v 3.5 like the first one, i would have to say that i didn't quite pick up on some of the [very, very many] plot threads, although i picked up on enough that it didn't really bother me very nicely paced-- even though it's really long and took me a good chunk of time to finish, it never feels like it's dragging or moving so fast that you lose track of the narrative overall pretty good! it gets the fornia stamp of approval for medieval his fic all the key characters and most of the side characters feel very lovingly developed and human :)

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