During last year's book launch of "Beyond all Price," Sharon Kay Penman was one of my most supportive cheerleaders. She threw her support behind my book and urged her own fan base to give an unknown writer a chance. I was enormously grateful for her help, so I am delighted to return the favor. Here is an early look at the press release for her own new novel, "Lionheart." It's release date has now been set for October 4, 2011. Remember, you heard it here first.
a novel by SHARON KAY PENMAN
New York Times-bestselling author
“The great Crusader-King Richard the Lionheart comes alive in all his complex splendor in this masterpiece of a medieval tapestry by Sharon Kay Penman. She brings him and his legendary enemy, Saladin, before us, both on the battlefield for Jerusalem and in the quiet of their private chambers. It’s as if you were there in this strange, beguiling, vanished time that haunts the Middle East even today. Penman has triumphed in capturing its elusive essence and the blazing glory of the English king called Lionheart.”––Margaret George, author of Elizabeth I: A Novel
From the New York Times-bestselling author Sharon Kay Penman, comes LIONHEART(Marian Wood/G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Publication Date: October 4, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-399-15785-1; Price: $28.95), the remarkable untold story of Richard I—the charismatic hero of astonishing military feats who would set the standard that kings and warriors would aspire to and become a legend even during his own lifetime.
LIONHEART opens in the summer of 1189. King Henry has died and Richard, his dashing son, famed as one of the best battle commanders in all of Christendom, has ascended to the throne. As the first king to have taken up the cross, he is in the midst of immense preparations for a massive crusade to Jerusalem , a holy war to reclaim the city from the Saracen (Muslim) forces that have captured it. Before long, Richard and his troops—accompanied by the French forces, in a shaky alliance with King Philippe—set out on the long and treacherous journey to Jerusalem . Along the way, Richard will stop in Sicily to rescue his beautiful and spirited sister, Joanna, who has been held hostage and her lands seized after the sudden death of her husband, the Sicilian king. In Cyprus , he overthrows a despot and after contentiously dissolving his long betrothal to Philippe’s sister, marries Berengeria of Navarre and has her crowned Queen. The Third Crusade is marked by extraordinary campaigns against the Saracen forces, as well as by treachery within Richard’s own camp—as his relations with the French king turn sour and Philippe abandons the war. Back in England , Richard’s younger brother John, schemes to steal the crown.
However, it is on the blood-soaked battlefields of the Holy Land that Richard meets his most worthy rival––Saladin, the leader of the Saracen forces and powerful Sultan of Egypt who had taken Arabia and Syria under his control before laying siege to Jerusalem . Saladin earned a reputation in the Muslim world as undefeatable, and the clash of these two mighty military commanders was destined to be an epic face-off. Surprisingly, it will also be a meeting that demonstrated their mutual respect and unexpected diplomacy, as Richard actually comes to befriend Saladin’s brother, knighting his brother’s son, and even proposing a marriage alliance between their families—much to the horror of his men. It is this unlikely rapport between these two enemies that makes the story of the Third Crusade so compelling, and adds a dimension of humanity to our conception of Richard the Lionheart.
Although the crusade itself would fail in its objective—the recapture of Jerusalem —it would bestow immortality upon Richard, whose battlefield feats dazzled his contemporaries, and continue to dazzle us today. But while the Richard of legend—best known to most of us from the Robin Hood films—is arrogant and brutal, a brilliant military commander but a disloyal son and an irresponsible king, Penman’s richly researched portrayal renders a much more complex and interesting man. A man that was at times ruthless, reckless, and arrogant, but also generous, pragmatic, and playful; a man that while in the midst of battle, attempted diplomacy and showed his respect for his Saracen foe.
Spanning the course of three years, LIONHEART traces Richard from his ascent to the throne in the royal courts of England to the bloody battlefields of Jerusalem , to the conclusion of the Third Crusade. The first of a two books about Richard I, Penman will complete Richard’s fascinating story in A King’s Ransom, which will be published next year, and which will complete the Angevin family saga. A tightly woven tale of riveting characters and meticulous historical detail, LIONHEART is a passionate tale of war and diplomacy, treachery and loyalty, from the beloved master of the genre.
ABOUT THE AUTHORSharon Kay Penman is the New York Times-bestselling author of seven previous historical novels set in medieval England, France , and Wales, most recently the Angevin trilogy, about the lives of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.She is also the author of four mysteries set during the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine, including the Edgar nominee The Queen’s Man. A lawyer and historian by training and a novelist by birth, Penman lives in Mays Landing, New Jersey .