By the spring of 1006, Emma has succeeded in providing King Æthelred with a son. In spite of already fathering six legitimate sons, the king announces him heir to the throne, making his elder children view Emma as more of an enemy than she was before. All of them except Athelstan, that is. As the two try to fight their feelings for one another, Æthelred suffers a devastating loss that he views as further punishment for his participation in the death of his brother. His paranoia increases and he begins to imagine plots against him even by those closest to him. And when it’s revealed that his own Ealdorman in the north is indeed planning to forge an alliance with the Danes, Æthelred’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Fearing for the safety of her children Emma must begin to take steps to protect herself, all the while knowing that if her husband catches any whiff of her plans she could find herself accused of treason against the king.
Things certainly haven’t improved for Emma since the end of Shadow on the Crown. In spite of her efforts, Æthelred’s affection for her hasn’t grown a bit and the ghosts that haunt him have him firmly in their grasp. So much so that the entire kingdom is in danger.
Amazingly, Emma’s story still isn’t finished. This second installment in Bracewell’s trilogy takes readers up to 1012. At this stage, Emma is still on the first of her marriages, or the first crowning of this “twice crowned queen.”
3/15 Becky LeJeune
THE PRICE OF BLOOD by Patricia Bracewell. Viking (February 5, 2015). ISBN: 978-0525427278. 448p.