Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The Harlot's Daughter - Blythe Gifford
Betrothed to a man she must betray.
She is the illegitimate daughter of a dead king, trying to regain a place at court.
He is the powerful lord determined to stop her.
And around every corner lurks treason that could threaten them both.
A medieval and another new to me author, I heard good things about it and decided to give it a try. The author mentions how the idea for this story came from King Edward III and Alice Perrer's daughters of which little is known.
Joan, better known as Lady Solay, comes to court in search of a position or a rich husband. She is the illegitimate daughter of the last king and after he died her mother took her and her sister away from court and lost everything she possessed except the house they have been living in.
There she meets Lord Lamont, a man of law and close to the parliament that is trying to limit the king's power. Solay attracts the attention of the king with her hobby of reading the stars and he ends up devising a marriage between her and Justin Lamont. She would marry a rich man and in turn she would spy on him for the king.
There are several important issues at stake in the story. Whether the king's divine power should or not be above the law of men. What to do when the law and your personal interests are different things. Solay is wary of everyone around her, she knows she is not much liked and is in secret called the harlot's daughter. Although she doesn't want to spy on anyone she knows she has to follow the king's wishes in order to gain her reward and save her mother and sister from poverty. Lamont is ruled only by the law, he is very attracted to Solay but his mission is the more important thing and he distrusts her. Eventually they'll have to trust each other, confide in each and learn about what's truly important.
I did enjoy the story, it seemed more real and plausible than most medievals. It dealt with real characters with understandable motivations and with divided interests or loyalties. I thought that was a refreshing change from the usual plots and I'm already looking for more books by this author.