1006 AD. Queen Emma, the Norman bride of England’s King Æthelred, has given birth to a son. Now her place as second wife to the king is safe and Edward marked as heir to the throne. But the royal bed is a cold place and the court a setting for betrayal and violence, as the ageing king struggles to retain his power over the realm. Emma can trust no one, not even the king’s eldest son Athelstan,
the man she truly loves.
The Price of Blood is the middle book of my trilogy about Emma of Normandy, 11th century queen of Anglo-Saxon England. The book spans the years A.D.1006-1012, and as with my first book, Shadow on the Crown, I turned to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles for the history that informs the story.
But here’s the rub: the Chronicle entries for that period make absolutely no mention of Queen Emma or any other woman. Instead they are a litany of murders, treachery, deceit, and betrayal woven in amongst desperate battles fought against Viking armies. They were produced by cloistered monks who, at least in this period, were noting major political upheavals some years after they had occurred. What did they know of the lives of women, even royal wives and daughters?
It was up to me to consider the history of the period and then imagine what role Queen Emma might have played in it. Later events would convince historians that Emma was politically astute, so that is how I imagined her. She was only the second crowned queen of England. How did she go about staking out a role for herself and thus setting a precedent for queens who would follow? What relationships did she forge with powerful earls and bishops who made up the king’s court? How did she respond to news of a Viking attack or to word of a murder, especially when the murder had been ordered by the king? For that matter, how did she respond to the king? What happened in the royal bedchamber when they were alone?
Historians may speculate about these things – well, probably not what went on in the bedchamber – but it is up to the novelist to bring historical figures to life, place them in that intimate setting and nudge them into action. It was up to me to step into the minds and hearts of my characters in order to give readers the emotional impact that is what we all look for in a novel.
So The Price of Blood is, among other things, a story of family relationships in a time of war. In it there are moments of great fear and turmoil, but also moments of tenderness and loss and heartbreak. It is the story of a queen who strives for power in a world of ruthless men; of a mother who seeks to protect her children; of a woman who loses her heart to a man she cannot have. It is a very old story indeed.
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About the Author
Patricia Bracewell was born and raised in Los Angeles and majored in English Literature.A Masters Degree was followed by a California teacher’s credential and she taught high school English. Eventually moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, she met and married a Canadian and now has two sons. Her passion for writing began with short stories before she fulfilled a long ambition when she discovered an English queen whose name was unfamiliar. Intrigued, Patricia began research, including journeys to England and France - and wrote the novel that became Shadow on the Crown. The second book of her trilogy, The Price of Blood, begins about a year after the final events in Shadow on the Crown and covers a further seven years of Emma’s story.
Pat says, "Frankly, this sequel doesn’t end where I originally intended. A certain character tried very hard to wrest control of the plot line and make it all about her. I had to fight her every step of the way, and I had to add scenes just to get her to behave. That’s called revision and it, too, is a fact of publishing life. Now I am at work on Book Three, and it’s taking me to places I hadn’t originally intended: Viborg in Denmark and Rouen in Normandy, for example. Much of the story, though, will take place in London. In the year 1016 London was under siege by a Danish army, and that will be a central event in this third book."
In July 2016 University College London is sponsoring A Millennial Conference to Commemorate the Siege of London in 1016. New research, new theories, new discoveries will be presented at that conference, and Pat will be there as part of her research to incorporate them into her final volume. Find our more at Pat's website www.PatriciaBracewell.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @patbracewell.