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The Northern Queen Kindle Edition
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|Length: 333 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Queen Emma is portrayed as an incorrigible villain, able to strike from a long distance away; I think this is a little over the top but it does add tension to the plot. Emma was as jealous of Aelfgifu as the other way around, and the venomous contention between them plagued Aelfgifu for the rest of her days. This competition was passed on to their sons, and Canute’s inheritance was bitterly fought.
There’s plenty of evidence that Canute did not put aside his first wife when he took the second. He even sent her and his first son Swegn to rule as his regents in Norway, though they were eventually ousted in a bloody coup. Did Canute misinterpret Aelfgifu’s capacity to rule, or was she doomed from the start? It’s hard to say. She tries her best without much help from his end aside from a few words of encouragement. She must have felt pretty much abandoned by this point.
I was curious to know how Kelly was going to handle her son’s reign, for Harold Harefoot has not been treated kindly by historians. However, in this novel it was his mother who took the reins of government into her own hands, at least initially, relieving him of responsibility. The sequence of events is a bit jumbled, and we don’t get a good feel for Harold as king. How deeply implicated was he in the torture and murder of Alfred Aetheling? Alas, we are not to know, for the most damning accusation normally laid against Harold—and Godwine—was deflected to Emma. Aelfgifu’s rival knew no bounds.
Overall, I think Aelfgifu was nicely portrayed in this novel, rounding out the usual one-dimensional descriptions given by historians. She is very much a flesh-and-blood character, and the author did a good job describing how a woman of her spirit could deal with the impossible position Canute put her in. This is a fine debut novel, very well written and a smooth read.
It was a twist on the more popular idea of Emma being the beloved queen, however it is absolutely clear that Canute had feelings for both Aelfgifu of Northampton and Emma of Normandy. Later contemporary writings lean towards Emma but this version worked well.
I did enjoy Cnut's first wife's story and learning about her life. It was a very good representation of the history of that time which I always seek out to read. I am hoping Kelly Evans has another in the works.