When Christ and His Saints Slept

When Christ and His Saints Slept
by Sharon Kay Penman, Sharon Penman
Series: Plantagenets #1
Publication Date: December 27, 1995
Pages: 928
Genre: Historical Fiction

Twelfth-century England, a land of treachery, high passions and shifting allegiances, is plunged into chaos as the Empress Maude and her cousin Stephen become locked in a bitter struggle for the throne lasting twenty years.

King Henry is dead, and there are two people who want his crown. But only one can have it. He has bequeathed it to his daughter Maude, much to the horror of his nobles, for she is arrogant and stubborn, and, most dangerous of all, a woman. When Stephen, a brave and popular warrior but a weak ruler, attempts to seize the throne, it is the beginning of a tragic conflict that brings suffering and bloodshed to all and victory to no one.

And waiting in the wings of this tumultuous drama are other players: Maude’s charming and devious son Henry, born of an enforced, bitter marriage, and the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, each with ambitions of their own.

This is my 4th book in this series by Penman, and it is only now that I am reading the series in order of events. At 928 pages, this was a beast of a book. However, even though it could easily have cut 400 pages, I really enjoyed the ride. Once the book came to the meaty matter of Henry and Eleanor at around the 600 page mark, I absolutely loved it.

Now for some comments on reading When Christ and His Saints Slept – but behind the page break because there are SPOILERS ahead…