THE BATTLE OF THE QUEENS by Jean Plaidy

THE BATTLE OF THE QUEENS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Continuing her rundown on England's Plantagenets, Plaidy now kills off bad, bad King John and concentrates on two tough queen-mothers on both sides of the Channel: Isabella, formerly John's queen; and Blanche of Castile, wife of Louis VIII of France and mother of Louis IX. It's Queen Isabella who conveys the happy news of John's death to terrified nine-year-old Henry--who, as Henry III, will quite take to kingship as he matures into an intemperate and wavering ruler. And now Isabella, a lusty beauty, is free to go after the man she passionately loves--Hugh de Lusignan, to whom John in his inspired nastiness had affianced his small daughter, the Princess Joan. So little Joan, after learning to love her future husband, must watch her own mother snatch Hugo away (Joan is shipped to freezing Scotland to marry its king). Meanwhile, in France, another strong lady, Queen Blanche, is likewise widowed and coaches her young son Louis in kingship. And though both cool, wise Blanche and Henry III share the same grandmother, Eleanor of Acquitaine, wars between England and France will occur off and on--while Henry also must face a blither of baronial feuds, rumbles between Church and State, a rash of arranged marriages, and the intrigues of two canny, mutually loathing queens. (Isabella urges Hugh to conspire against Louis, and that will be her undoing, capped by her unsuccessful attempt to have the king poisoned.) With two relatively unfamiliar heroines to work with--lesser clones of Eleanor of Acquitaine who handily manage their husbands and mold sons into kings--the burden of painting-by-number from a stern historical model seems to have been lifted somewhat; so this is sprightlier fare by far than some of Plaidy's more constrained others. (Please note: due to an error by Putnam, this book was previously reviewed under the title The Prince of Darkness, p. 169. The Prince of Darkness, in fact, precedes The Battle of the Queens in the Plantagenet series and deals with King John's reign. The bibliographic information on p. 169 is correct for The Prince of Darkness.)

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1981
Publisher: Putnam