Progress: 100% – p. 928 / 928:

I finished the book this afternoon. What a ride!

Yes, I had issues with the length of the first part of the book, and, yes, this has somewhat spoiled my reading experience for the first part of the book, but once the book really got going, I found it hard to put it down.

I don’t have much to add to my previous comments, except that in the last part of the book:

  • I really welled up when that vile piece of s**t that was Eustace, Stephen’s son, attempted to hang a 5-year-old hostage;
  • I really cheered when the same vile piece of s**t got his come-uppance;
  • For the first part of the book, I was mostly invested in the story of Ranulf, who is – ironically – the only truly fictional main character in the book;
  • By the end of the book, I was invested in the fate of all of the main characters; and, lastly:
  • Even tho I had issues with the book, I have already placed an order for the next installment in the Eleanor & Henry saga.

Progress: 89% – p. 826 / 928:

Well, by around the 690 page mark, the book deviates from the civil war to finally, FINALLY, focusing on Eleanor. What a marvellous character she is. And even tho I know Eleanor of Aquitaine from fiction only (the magnificent The Lion in Winter and Penman’s work … Lionheart and A King’s Ransom), I somehow feel that both depictions (and at that, both the depictions in the play and Katherine Hepburn’s screen version of The Lion in Winter) are true to the real character. At least I hope they were. What a force of nature that woman was, and so, so smart!

I really like Harry/Henry, too. He seems like the archetype of the chracter of Richard that Penman would create in the later two books, but Henry seems more boisterous. I like that both characters – actually all of Penman’s characters – are complex human beings, and each is a real character. Even the evil ones have moments where one cannot help but feel sympathy for them.

I digress, I love seeing how Henry is impressed by Eleanor and how he is not afraid of her strength because he was raised by an equally formidable mother.

Anyway, the shift in focus kept me reading until the wee hours. The only reason I am awake just now is that Andy woke me for our morning walk.

Still 400 pages too long, but this is a great book.

Progress: 68% – p. 633 / 928:

I am deternined to finish this book by Monday evening. I am still enjoying the story and characters, especially now that Henry has made more appearances, Eleanor has been talked about, and Ranulf has given us a break from the civil war and the flip-flopping of allegiances by getting mugged in Wales. I really enjoyed the story in Wales. It introduced information about Welsh society and custom that was new to me and was really interesting. I also like that we have met a strong character with a disability. Not sure why that struck me so much, but I just liked how the character was introduced and how she is pulling Ranulf’s leg when he goes all protective about her.

Despite the length of the book and the never-ending detail about who does what during the back-and-forth battles between Maud and Stephen, I really like the book. I still stand by my earlier comment that this could and should have been 400 pages shorter.

Progress: 57% – p. 525 / 928:

I made a lot of progress with this epic yesterday, but oh my god, the last 400 pages have all been about the civil war and we are still not done with it.

It’s not that I am not enjoying the book, I am, but the section about one battle after another is just bloody endless.

Make it stop, Penman. MAKE IT STOP!!