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The Fatal Crown: A Novel (The Queens of Love and War Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Ellen Jones
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Against the seething political intrigues of twelfth-century Europe, two royal heirs will surrender to passion as they vie for the most glittering, treacherous prize of all: the English throne

At nine, Maud, an English princess, was sent to Germany to become the bride of the Holy Roman Emperor—a political alliance with a man her father’s age. At twenty-five, the widowed Maud must marry once again, this time to fourteen-year-old Geoffrey Plantagenet. But it is with Stephen of Blois, Maud’s fiercest rival for the British throne, that the headstrong princess discovers the true meaning of desire.  
Stephen, a descendant of William the Conqueror, believes absolutely in his God-given right to rule. Torn between his illicit passion for Maud and his own towering ambition, he knows he must choose. Stephen’s decision will wrench him from the arms of the woman he loves, ignite civil war, and lead to a shattering act of betrayal that, decades later, will come full circle and change the course of English history.

Books In This Series (3 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews

    From Publishers Weekly

    In this cumbrous historical novel, Jones postulates a turbulent love affair between the English princess Maud (born 1102) and her cousin and rival to the throne, Stephen of Blois--their passion complicated by political strife. Granddaughter of William the Conquerer, the historical Maud was wed at nine to an aging Holy Roman Emperor, later recalled from Germany as a widow of 25, named heir to the crown of England and married to 14-year-old Geoffrey Plantagenet. The novel dramatizes Maud's purported adulterous liaison with Stephen, who, despite their passionate involvement, angrily challenges her right to the throne when her father dies: their rivalry did in fact erupt into a devastating civil war; Stephen won, reigning until his death in 1154, whereupon Maud's son acceded to the throne, becoming the skilled administrator Henry II, husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine. As depicted here, Maud is a temperamental romance heroine, manipulated by male chauvinists--feudal barons; her father, Henry I; her domineering, priggish husband, Geoffrey. Jones packs her fiction debut with factual passages that read as turgidly as a textbook, brightening the narrative with lust-filled interludes in royal bedchambers and a rustic forest lodge. The many hunting descriptions indicate inadequate research--a huntsman on the field would never feed his dogs raw boar meat--yet the period color and romance carry the tale to its bittersweet ending. 100,000 first printing .
    Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.


    “Jones packs her fiction debut with factual passages . . . brightening the narrative with lust-filled interludes in royal bedchambers . . . the period color and romance carry the tale to its bittersweet ending.” —Publishers Weekly

    Product Details

    • File Size: 1031 KB
    • Print Length: 560 pages
    • Publisher: Open Road Media Romance (January 29, 2013)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00AYRI4TI
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,832 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    4.3 out of 5 stars
    4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Love It Or Hate It, But You Have To Read It To Decide! November 1, 2002
    It's entirely possible to love or hate Ellen Jones' "The Fatal Crown." This is historical fiction in the tradition of Margaret George's great novels like "The Memoirs of Cleopatra" and "The Autobiography Of Henry VIII". ...mostly it stays true to the facts of this horrible period in English history ...As with any historical novel, Jones makes up nearly all of the dialogue and she does do some wild speculation about the birth of the future Henry II. However, she is very careful to make sure her speculation coincides with facts that are unexplainable otherwise.
    I am a fairly good student of Eleanor and Henry II and there is not much doubt that the very popular books on Eleanor pretty much enhance her life beyond what really occurred. This does not stop me from enjoying a good historical novel about either of them. In this case, the speculation about the Empress Maude and King Stephen is probably fantasy, but Jones does a credible job of making sure that all the wild events fit into the known historical facts. In fact, she is the only novelist I have yet read who came up with a plot that actually explained the bizarre swings of fortune that occurred during the long civil war between Maude and Stephen. She keeps a very positive narration on both sides (something that so many novelists just can't seem to pull off - most just *have* to demonize one party or the other). She has decent explanations for Maude's actions in London as well as Stephen's crazy releases of both Maude and the adolescent Henry as well as his final act of making Maude's son his heir instead of his own son Eustace.
    When history is insane (and it certainly was during this period), I can find enjoyment in a crazy plot designed to explain the insanity. ...
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    24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars fast paced and well written January 20, 2001
    Very well written and fast paced. 500+ pages that just disappeared--I didn't want it to end. Wonderfully drawn characters that you come to know and care about. Action, adventure, history and some very good sex. Jones does play a bit fast and loose with the history--but after all it is ficiton and the book is so good that it really doesn't seem to matter. While suggesting that Henry II might actually not be a Plantagenant (did I spell that correctly?), might send some to screaming--Jones is not the first author (in fiction or non-fiction) to make reference to an attraction and admiration existing between royal rivals Maud and Stephen. Even the beloved Sharon Kay Penman makes some reference to this in "When Christ and His Saints Slept." Anyway, Jones does get most of the rest of the history right and I always find it enjoying to read anything about Stephen of Blois and Maud, especially books that paint Maud in a favorable light. It seems to me she was unfairly manipulated to the extreme throughout her life and then abused by the historians as well. As historical romance goes, this is one of the best I've read. I can't wait to read the sequel.
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    27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars Bogus December 23, 2013
    Format:Kindle Edition
    The whole premise of this book is so bogus, the writer ought to be embarrassed. It isn't even close to being historical fiction. It is historical rubbish. The concept of a relationship between Maud (Matilda) and Stephen is absolutely preposterous. The period when they warred with each other is one of the darkest days in British history. If you really want to read a novel about this period read Sharon Kay Penman's "When Christ and His Saints Slept." While it is a novel, Penman doesn't stray from the truth, but she does use fiction to flesh the story out.
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    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved It January 21, 2011
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    It has been over a year since I read this book. The reason I pulled up Amazon today was to look for the promised sequel. As someone who enjoys both European history and romance novels, and who has passing familiarity with the real stories of the characters in this novel, it proved a deeply satisfying blend of fact and fiction. I will go so far as to say that this title started me reading Regency romances...of which I've now read about thirty. (Yes, I realize The Fatal Crown does not take place in the Regency period; rather, it is set in the century following William the Conquerer.)

    Another reviewer implied that it is more of a "romance" than a literary novel. Does that make it lack prestige, in his opinion? If he's right - and I'm not sure that everyone would agree with him - labeling it a romance doesn't bother me one bit. Romances happen to own a huge share of the book market!

    Ms. Jones, please hurry up with that sequel!
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    49 of 65 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money March 18, 2000
    A badly written historical romance trying to disguise itself as an historical novel. Ellen James takes a defining moment in English history--the struggle between Maude of Germany and Stephen of Blois for the English throne--and turns it into a love story, even implying that Maude's son Henry was fathered by Stephen and not her husband Geoffrey of Anjou! Readers who know nothing of history may enjoy this, but for a much better overview of these events read Sharon Kay Penman's "When Christ and His Saints Slept."
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    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars It is a power struggle mixed with a love story. December 23, 1998
    By A Customer
    I found this book extremely enjoyable and a quick read. The romance part I did not enjoy much but it was essential to the events in the book. It was well written which made the descriptions that much more interesting. And the time period was wonderful.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Excellent! Well researched and beautifully written. I've read all three in this trilogy.
    Published 15 days ago by Eve Lenander
    5.0 out of 5 stars One Star
    Didn't want it to end!
    Published 18 days ago by Linda Fowler
    5.0 out of 5 stars History comes alive
    This was very interesting historical fiction, about women I had no knowledge of. Very early English history. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Tina B. Tessina
    3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoy the historical drama
    I enjoy the historical drama, but felt the book dragged on and on. I didn't finish the book because I became bored.
    Published 1 month ago by Ellzell
    4.0 out of 5 stars Was It Fatal or Just Sexist?
    I am delighted that Ms Jones is writing a series of the queens rather than the kings. I liked "The Fatal Crown" although would have been happier if Maud had not been so... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Margaret P. Clark
    5.0 out of 5 stars Makes history more inviting.
    The story is exciting and gives history a more interesting flavor.
    Published 2 months ago by Helen C Templeton
    5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story
    This was the first time I had read about this era, having mostly absorbed most of my time reading about the Tudors. Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Livi's Nana
    2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
    what? an affair between Stephen and Maud - sorry i just couldnt get it
    Published 3 months ago by Selwyna M Crookham
    5.0 out of 5 stars informative and entertaining
    I am a fan of combining history with the lure of emotion. This "story" was not only entertaining but very informative concerning the reign of Henry I and the successive reign of... Read more
    Published 4 months ago by Genevieve B.
    1.0 out of 5 stars interesting topic, boring book
    The first chapter was a tease. After that, the story disappears and the novel becomes a series of vignettes peopled by card board cut outs instead of characters.
    Published 4 months ago by Sandra I. Sulsky
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