Monday, August 23, 2010

The Queen's Man - Sharon Kay Penman

England, 1193: a land rife with rumours about the fate of its missing king. Justin de Quincy travels from Winchester to London. With a promise to a dying man, he is plunged into the conspiracy surrounding the disappearence of Richard the Lionheart, and under oath to reveal the truth to the Queen.

The Queen's Man is SKP first book in the Justin de Quincy series. It's a mystery series set in medieval England (around 1193) and Justin is the illegitimate son of a bishop that, after finding out the truth about his birth, has a falling out with his father and decides to set out on his own.

While on the road he witnesses the robbery and murder of a goldsmith. The man's dying words ask him to deliver a letter to Queen Eleanor and, after reading said document and seeing how it might be worth killing for that is exactly what he does. The letter informs the queen of the fate of her son, King Richard, a prisoner of the Emperor. Worried about her favourite son Eleanor asks Justin to investigate what was behind the murder, whether it was truly to waylay the letter and if the King of France is behind the act.

It is obvious from the beginning that the court is full of spies and that both Queen Eleanor and her son John have their own men trying to gain information. Justin strikes a friendship with one of the queen's ladies - Claudine - and is immediately suspicious of one of John's creatures - Durand.

His first steps are to investigate the goldsmith’s life and family. At first it seems his own relatives might be behind the crime and Justin decides to follow the murderers trail to find out the truth. He ends up being helped by Luke de Marston, the under sheriff who is also looking for the same killers.

I think Penman did a good job with the historical setting and contextualization of the action but I found it a bit lighter in historical detail than my previous read by her (TSIS). And despite having liked Justin my favourite characters were Luke and Nell, I intend to read the other books in this series and I definitely hope they make an appearance.

The mystery was interesting, not exactly the conclusion but the way Justin and Luke set out to discover things and draw their conclusions. In fact the mystery ends with a plot twist that I did not see coming and that I am not sure was completely convincing. Still it made for a very pleasant read

Grade: 4/5

This is my Q entry for the Alphabet in Historical Fiction Challenge.


  1. This must be another great read! Thanks for your review, Ana.

  2. I was a bit disappointed when I found out there weren't going to be any more books in this series. I liked this first book, but I thought that the books got stronger and stronger the further the series went on.

  3. From what I've heard the publishers aren't interested anymore. I think she mentioned it in one of her early blogs.


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