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Prince of Darkness Hardcover – March 31, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Convincing 12th-century European intrigue lifts Penman's engrossing fourth medieval mystery (after 2003's Dragon's Lair). In 1193, King Richard the Lion-Hearted is still imprisoned, while his devious and unscrupulous brother, Prince John, schemes to position himself to claim the English throne. When an obscure conspiracy seeks to implicate the prince in a plot to kill the king, John turns to young Justin de Quincy, Eleanor of Aquitaine's devoted aide, for help in clearing himself of the treason charge. In his pursuit of clues pointing to a number of suspects, De Quincy stumbles across several murders. Penman deftly weaves actual historical events into the narrative with nary a false note. While the murderer's identity may not come as much of a surprise, the author's thorough familiarity with her chosen period more than compensates. Agent, Molly Friedrich at Aaron Priest. (Mar. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This mystery set in 12th-century England and France is long on character development and period adventure. The murder itself comes late in the plot, but teens with a taste for medieval politics–both international and gender–will be engaged by the twisting tale of Justin de Quincy's efforts to serve his Queen. The chapters are brief and roam between the British countryside and London, and Paris and the island of Mont St. Michel. Penman is careful and consistent in informing readers about communication issues arising as people from one culture try to speak with those of another. This series novel is less formulaic than Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael mysteries (Warner), so those who appreciate their first meeting with de Quincy and his cohorts can find others by Penman as well. The historical detail is scrupulously accurate without being presented as a history lesson.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: A Marian Wood Book/Putnam (March 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399152563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399152566
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #615,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an American of Irish-English-Welsh heritage, and I currently live in New Jersey, although many of my readers imagine I am happily dwelling upon a Welsh mountaintop--but no such luck. I was once a tax lawyer, which I looked upon as penance for my sins. Like most writers, I was born with a love of the written word, although I never expected to be able to support myself as a writer; when you read about starving artists in their garrets, most of them have starving writers as roommates. But I was very lucky and I have been blessed to make my living as a writer for the past twenty-seven years or so. All of my novels--eleven at last count--are set in the Middle Ages, and focus upon England's most colorful dynasty, the Plantagenets. It is almost as if they lived their dramatic and often wildly improbable lives with future historical novelists in mind, and I am very grateful to them--especially to the Angevins,Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their equally famous children, known to their contemporaries as the Devil's Brood.

Customer Reviews

The book is an excellent read and the relationship between Durand and De Quincy is combative as well as humorous.
Amazon Customer
I like Sharon Kay Penman's works because she manages to blend fact and fiction so well, and makes us care about the people she writes about.
Ellis Bell
Fast paced, suspenseful, tightly plotted and intriguing, the author successfully help my attention and interest from beginning to end.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on May 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I waited a long time to check this book out of the library, since the store price for it is $25- way too much to spend on a book, even for someone like me. However, I'm not here to comment on the price of the book (which is much more reasonably priced on Amazon); rather, the content of the book is what concerns me. My wait for Prince of Darkness was not in vain, since this was probably one of the best books I have read so far this summer, and it is definitely better than the three books which preceed it in the Justin de Quincey series.

"The Prince of Darkness" is of course John, the malevolent and generally inept future king of England. Previously, he had been suspected of kidnapping his brother Richard the Lionheart, and of attempting to steal the ransom raised to have him released. In Prince of Darkness, however, John, although still very untrustworthy, was still portrayed in a more favorable light. In the winter of 1193-4, Richard was still imprisoned; taxes were raised to pay the ransom, which people gladly paid because Richard was a much-loved king. Here there is a plot to kill Richard, suspected to be orchestrated by his brother John. Justin de Quincey is set upon to find out the truth of these rumors and prevent the murder from happening, if need be. The investigation leads him to stumble over the bodies of two monks slain at Mont St. Michel, as well as the murder of a woman who is deeply involved with the case. In his search for the killer, de Quincey encounters a deadly spy named The Breton.

The Prince of Darkness is fraught with adventure and excitement, as Justin de Quincey, now a father, proves himself to be a more reliable, mature man than he was in his first few adventures.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on April 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a really good and well written medieval mystery novel that is rich in history and that fairly reeks of ambiance and atmosphere, look no further: Sharon Kay Penman delivers again with her latest Justin de Quincy installment, "The Prince of Darkness."

When Lady Claudine engineers a meeting between Justin and Prince John (King Richard I's treacherous and dangerous younger brother), Justin is understandably furious. After all this was the prince who had had put a death sentence on Justin's head because Justin had got in the way of his plans. But when Justin discovers why it is that Prince John needs his help, he knows that as Queen Eleanor's loyal henchman, he must help him. For Prince John now finds himself in the middle of a plot not of his making and that may cause him his place as Richard's heir, and perhaps, even his life. It turns out that Constance, the Duchess of Brittany and the widow of Geoffrey (King Richard's & Prince John's dead brother) claims to have in her possession evidence that Prince John and the Count of Toulouse had planned to murder Richard. Constance has always hated her Angevin relatives, and has plans to make her six year old son, Arthur (Richard's & John's nephew), the next King of all the Angevin lands after King Richard's death. And if she manages to discredit Prince John once and for all, her son will get everything. Prince John must prove that this document is a forgery, and for that he needs Justin's help. And so, once again, for his Queen's sake, Justin finds himself riding into danger in order to sort this latest royal mess, totally dependent on help from those he quite cordially loathes (like Durand) and one lovely lady that he loves but dare not trust -- the Lady Claudine...
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. E. Kennedy on June 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This time Justin De Quincy (The Queen's Man) finds himself HELPING Lord John while his mother Queen Eleanor is in Germany securing the release of King Richard. I had a bit of trouble finding sympathy for John's plight - but that helped me to related to Justin who felt the same. I always find Penman's descriptions of 12th century England fascinating - and this time she she took me along with Justin to 12th century France as well. When it comes to her history, Penman is a terrific writer. As for the mystery of her books, I am not as impressed. I think she has improved with each of the three books, and this one is again much better. I did not have it figured out and I did enjoy the excitement of the hunt for the killer at large. It was a little anti-climactic but did set the scene for another book, and I hope she writes one. I like the character development and I find all of them interesting and pleasantly familiar. I look forward to more adventures with them.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Sharon Kay Penman's fourth medieval mystery novel, "Prince of Darkness," continues to offer appeals of a more intellectual than visceral nature, but the novel's appeal is nevertheless considerable.

Justin de Quincy, hero of the first three novels in this enjoyable series, remains the "Queen's Man," dedicated to Eleanor of Aquitane. But in "Prince of Darkness," Justin is tricked into working at the behest of his nemesis, the diabolical Prince John. John's elder brother, Richard Lionheart, remains locked away in a Bavarian dungeon (and John has not-so-quietly conspired to keep him there) but is on the verge of winning his freedom thanks to the tireless efforts of Eleanor. John, who will take the crown on Richard's death as long as he stays in Richard's good graces, has an alliance with King Phillipe of France to further that end, but what is a man to do when a forged letter appears offering false proof of the kind of treachery everyone suspects of John -- namely, that he wants to keep Richard in a Bavarian dungeon? John must clear his name of the letter's slander if he has any chance of succeeding to the throne -- the only unforgiveable sin is the one for which you get caught!

John has no conscience and few allies, so he enlists Justin's assistance even though he tried to have Justin killed in the last novel. Against his better instincts but out of devout loyatly to Eleanor, Justin agrees to help the Prince.

Like Penman's previous murder mysteries, "Prince of Darkness" actually doesn't have that much violence in it. To be sure, there are murders and swordfights, but the novel's strengths lie in its solid grounding in its time period as Penman makes twelfth century France come alive, and in the logical yet unpredictable progression of the story.
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