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When Christ and His Saints Slept: A Novel Paperback – February 6, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Chronologically, this is the first book. It's also the first in the Henry & Eleanor trilogy (the others are Space & Time and Devil's Brood).
There is no doubt When Christ And His Saints Slept will stand as a superior work for ages to come. There is certainly a very complex plot (because this era of English history was quite convoluted). Penman does an excellent job of keeping it all straight for us as she leads us through the maze of characters. Yes, it's complicated but if you read the history of these times you quickly come to see what a great job she did in her design of the story.
There are touching moments (everybody seems to remember her scene of Henry meeting Eleanor in the garden of the Cite Palace) and Penman is great at establishing dynamic moments for a wide range of events (the deaths of Kings, Maude & Eleanor's machinations, etc.). But the true genius is the broad historical scope that is painted on top of the shimmering details of brief moments. It truely does feel as if you are living the story yourself, and it is this bringing us readers in as witnesses that stands as Penman's contribution to the art of the historical novel.Read more ›
Ms. Penman's work is, therefore, a pleasant surprise. She sticks to the facts where it matters. She introduces fictional characters as *observers* to the action (as in the character of Ranulf, purported to be one of Henry I's many illegitmate children), rather than active participants who could change the course of history. Where these fictionalized characters were involved in action, it was always along side one of the non-fictional participants, as a "witness." Penman is very careful not to let her fictional characters do too much. Seeing the long civil war through Ranulf's eyes made it seem very personal, and revealed what was probably the real human cost of the bloody and largely unnecessary conflict. It is a device used also by Edward Rutherfurd in _Sarum_ (his description of the of the plague and its contagious consequences from the perspective of the rat is brilliant).
I felt that I was looking at a sort of historical "connect the dots" -- there exists some documentation about this period, but there are gaps. Penman has adeptly connected the the known factual battles, seiges, etc. with fictionalized-but-plausible minor events dealing with day-to-day life.Read more ›
If you like historical fiction because of a love story angle, this book may prove a bit disappointing. On the other hand, the verismilitude of the life of the times (cold castles, dirt, poor food) is more real than any history could make it. One can say, "they ate poorly" or one can describe in detail the quality and kind of the food eaten as well as the dining actors. Also, we really don't know what peole said in private moments and thought when riding on horseback alone. Penman speculates and builds her speculation on the information at hand.
This book provides excellent background for Ellis Peters' fans. Here, you can actually obtain an idea of what's going on between Maude and Stephen through the course of Peters' 20 Brother Cadfael mysteries, as first one then another of the royal sides sweeps through Shrewsbury. You can also understand why Cadfael (Peters aka Pargeter-her real name) remains neutral. I found it rather amusing that at one point in Penman's book a character traveling in the vicinity and seeking medical aid for a wounded comrade mentions a certain 'brother' in the Shrewsbury abby of Saints Peter and Paul who is known for his healing skills.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've read all her books and have never been disappointed.
This is my second time reading this book.
The only thing I can say about this novel is it was monumentally boring. I was really looking forward to reading a novel-ized account of Matilda and Steven as, let's face, they... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carabele
This was such a horrific time in history for England/France, but I found the book impeccably researched and her usual well written. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R Vancleve
This is a great historical accounting, with a little extra thrown in for good measure. I haven't read a lot about Maude and Stephen but I knew bits and pieces of the history. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Martha hurst
If you enjoy curling up with a nice thick well written book that can throughly envelope you to ancient times... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Arachne
The book is slow, plodding and boring so far.
I am an avid reader and this book is so blah that I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it.