Third in Plaidy's Plantagenet series, this continues the royal progresses (and royal mistakes) of the sons of Henry II; here Richard I takes the throne in 1189 after the death of Henry (Revolt of the Eaglets, p. 734). Popular conceptions of Richard the Lion Heart have been sternly contradictory--chivalrous idealist or war-happy adventurer who sublimated his guilt over homosexual practices? Plaidy, a pro at threading her way through fact and legend by cosily portraying the mighty as ordinary folk with extraordinary assignments, has sent forth a Richard who is gloriously handsome, usually just, a superb soldier who doesn't care too much for women and is fond of close male friendships. She comfortably details Richard's undoubtedly uncomfortable journey to fight the Saracens in the Holy Land, the conquest of Sicily and Corsica, and the war with Saladin, all with the on-and-off cooperation of his supposed ally, Philip of France. Both Philip and Richard--and Saladin--apparently find the friend-and-enemy relationship ""exciting."" Says Philip: ""If I were not the King of France and you the King of England. . . ."" Says Saladin: ""If I were not the Sultan and you a Christian King. . . ."" But, after the love-talk, they quickly get back to conspiring and hacking each other's armies. Skirmishes in the Holy Land, Philip's return to France, pallid truce with Saladin, capture by Leopold of Austria and expensive release--after all this, Richard returns to England, to Mother Eleanor and the nefarious activities of brother John, a tower of stinker-hood who will soon have his book. Richard dies in 1199 in a minor battle against the forces of Philip-and-John, with his kind neglected wife, Berengia, beside him. More of the bland and digestible same.