In 1006, the Danes continue to attack England. King Aethelred, traumatised by the murder of his brother to get to the throne himself, trusts no one. Not his sons and certainly not his wife, Queen Emma of Normandy. His nobles undergo his mistrust as well and he has Elgiva’s father killed by his new favourite Aedric for conspiring with the Danes. Meanwhile, Emma is having a hard time fighting for her son Edward and is struggling with her love for Aethelstan, the aetheling who hopes to become heir to the throne. And in the north, Elgiva is forced to consort with the enemy.
I have actually waited a ridiculously long time to read this second book about Emma of Normandy. I loved the first one (‘Shadow on the crown‘) and ‘The price of blood‘ is equally good. We don’t know much about the complex years before 1066 when the weak king Aethelred II (nicknamed ‘The Unready’) sits on the English throne. The Danes attack constantly and England pays them to leave. That is pretty much the summary, causing high taxes and unrest in his country.
The story is still told from four perspectives: Emma, Aethelred, Aethelstan (Aethelred’s eldest son) and Elgiva. This gives a very complete picture of all the events. It allows Bracewell to put the reader close to everything and I love that. You’re always at top of things, never missing any key event.
Both Emma and Elgiva have a fascinating story and the Saxon era is certainly not inferior to, let’s say, the Tudors. I am very curious to see how the third and final book will end.
This is book 6/20 for 20 books of summer.