August 31, 2016 by kitmoss
REVIEW: PRIDE OF LIONS, Book 1 The Earl
By Richard Mence
Publisher: Richard L. Mence; 2 edition (May 17, 2016)
This is an historical fiction novel of medieval England during the late 12th and early 13th centuries. It is the biography of Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and ancestor of a line of earls culminating in the reign of King Henry V. The novel reflects the love triangle of Henry de Bohun, his wife, Matilda of Essex, and King Richard I, the Lionheart. It is an era of the Crusades and the growth of England as a nation and world power. The novel follows Henry de Bohun to his last days and includes the early days of his son and heir, Humphrey de Bohun.
REVIEW BY CHRISTOPHER HAWTHORNE MOSS
This book was right up my alley. Before I started reading all this gay romance history, I read tons and tons of stories of English kings and queens and earls and countenances and you name it. Once I got started and discovered that a love affair between the main character and Richard the lionhearted was in the offing, I figured I was in for a treat. And the fact is that there was a lot about this book that was enjoyable. Continuity was a massive problem however.
First of all, was Richard the lionhearted gay? There are quite a few that represent him as such. I suspect it’s because he spent his time with soldiers, and because he and his wife never had any children. The author Sharon K Penman, however, seems to think from her own research that Richard was not in fact homosexual. So my guess is it’s up to what you wanted to be. In this novel Richard takes Henry on as a lover, but only in the most remote way as would be expected of a king.
The two things that did not work for me in this novel are the onrush of the developing plot and the occasional continuity gaffes and repetitions. For instance when Henry is in Constantinople, the description of his trip to the palace covers the statue of just any and on a pillar twice in the succession. This is not the only instance of this. I know from writing a long book that it can be very difficult not to repeat important facts, and this book was self-published, so that might explain it, but a simple read-through would have caught it all.
Worse however was the jumping around in time with characters that show up when they couldn’t even be born yet. The most was when Henry and mod traveled to their manner and meet the part-Saxon steward who is introduced when their son Humphrey arrives. Humphrey is described as being eight years old. But his parents had only been married for about five having spent a month together at the beginning when Henry left for four years for the holy land.
Then in the sequence about the Magna Carta and Runnymede the entire action is sped up so quickly that you don’t even have a sense of what Henry is doing.
The author’s language was appropriate, and actually quite enjoyable. If he could have been more consistent with the plot and the characters this could have been as good a medieval book as any.