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The Canterbury Papers

av Judith Koll Healey

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: Princess Alaïs (1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4841536,737 (3.46)17
The only thing I felt was a strong hand around my neck, another around my waist, and -- before I could cry out -- I smelled the thick, sweet scent of a mandrake-soaked cloth. Unforgiving hands clapped it against my face, and all went dark. Alaïs, the king of France's sister, is abducted while on her mission for the wily Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former Queen of England, to retrieve hidden letters that, in the wrong hands, could bring down the English king. In exchange, the French princess was to receive long-heldand dangerous information. Now Alaïs, along with help from the very intriguing leader of the Knights Templar, must unravel a tangled web of family secrets and lies. Filled with intrigue and peopled with compelling legendary figures, The Canterbury Papers is an "electrifying journey into the past" (Booklist).… (mer)
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I'm not a reader of historical fiction, so I wasn't sure if I'd like this, but I was pleasantly surprised. It has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested and has a reasonably satisfying conclusion. It is a bit of a slow burner though, compared to regular contemporary thrillers, and the number of characters can get a little confusing (not helped by the fact that several characters have the same name.) ( )
  adam.currey | May 21, 2020 |
Set in the early 13th century, this book has more of the feeling of a
contemporary mystery/suspense novel. The middle-aged heroine, an obscure
historical figure (Alais Capet, a princess who was engaged to Richard the
Lionheart but whose marriage did not occur), is a smart and feisty woman
who would appeal to many fans of that subset of mystery novels which seem
to favor such women as protagonists - but I didn't find her believable as
a character of her time period. The historical details seem squished into
the story for the sake of having historical details, rather than naturally
stemming from the story.
This aside, the story was entertaining. Alais is blackmailed by her
stepmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, into trying to retrieve some of her old
correspondence from a hiding place in Canterbury cathedral. Hoping to gain
information of the baby that was stolen from her some 20 years earlier,
Alais agrees - but ends up being violently kidnapped and plunged into a
mystery involving much royal politicking. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I've actually read this before but I wanted to re-read it in order to be prepared to read Rebel Princess - the sequel. It was just as entertaining and surprising the second time around. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
an easy & enthralling read - alternative history of Princesse Alais who was bethrothed (but not wed) to Richard the lionheart. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
I read this book very quickly – the majority in under a day – but had some fairly large problems with the plot and characters. The story takes place in 1200, the time of the Crusades, the Knights Templar, Eleanor of Aquitaine – a lot of material for the author to work with. The main character is Princess Alaïs of France, daughter of Louis VII, and a stepdaughter of Eleanor. It’s a pretty interesting idea – following a side character during a period of historical interest – can describe the actual historical conflicts, but not confined by history in terms of plot. The author gives the actual background on Alaïs - she was engaged to Richard, the son of Henry of England, a marriage that never happened, and also became Henry’s mistress. The story takes place a number of years later.

Bored and stifled at the French court, Alaïs accepts a commission from Eleanor (with whom she still has a number of unresolved issues) to retrieve some hidden letters at Canterbury. Along the way she’s abducted and is drawn into a plot involving the succession of the English throne, a conflict between John of England and the Knights Templar, and political intriguing between the Christian and Arab powers. After Alaïs gets to Canterbury, I was hooked and read pretty much straight through. However, there were several problems with the plot.

In the latter half of the book, all the secrets come out, but it was a lot of travel-revelations-travel-revelations. The main plot was also very predictable. It was extremely easy to pick out who her love interest would be, and there were too many coincidences connecting them. Their relationship is very ‘hate-like-hate-like’ and ‘you’re keeping secrets from me!’ The identity of another character becomes important later on, but this is obvious too, because Alaïs’ interest in the character is developed, while most of the other people she’s travelling with have nothing to do. Or are conveniently around to answer questions that pop up, then aren’t important anymore. For example, Alaïs’ jewel – a present from Richard – excites interest from an Arabic scholar. She meets an expert at Canterbury, who gives her some info. When more questions about the jewel arise later in the journey, the same scholar happens to be along, Alaïs gets more answers, then the character sort of fades into the background.

The jewel gets its own subplot; this was an unnecessary distraction. In this case, the plot was not predictable, but seemed random instead. People are after her pendant, but the breaking in and chasing and such act as red herrings for the Eleanor/John/letters plot. It’s unlikely that two sets of people would be after her on her travels. Also, the explanations for the jewel plot seem hurriedly thrown in – if this plot was really necessary (since the book is the first in a series, maybe it is important later on), it probably could have been developed more organically – e.g., mentioning bits of important information earlier or connecting that information to the characters. I get that the jewel was a symbol of her and Richard and her connection with the whole family – all the bitterness of her past etc. – and letting it go at the end was about her being in a better place – but same could have been done if she just lost it, or someone stole it just because it was a valuable jewel.

Alaïs the character seems to be tailored to 21st century tastes – she’s always protesting when people are trying to protect her and in one instance runs off in disguise to get away from everyone. I’m not really a huge historical fiction fan, but the couple other books I read that fall firmly in this genre also had this problem – mildly annoying. After learning about some secrets from her past, she becomes very angry and has a couple breakdowns. It’s really more of a 21st century reaction – of course it would be bad if she were treated that way today, but considering all of the events that she personally experienced and witnessed (sons against their father, a husband imprisoning his wife, just for starters), it’s not as huge of a betrayal. In addition, she’s described as a psychic, but that doesn’t prevent her from constantly getting into trouble and overall doesn’t add anything to the character.

So I don’t think I’ll read more in the series – it was certainly a fast read, but I can probably find other books that will be just as addictive but less annoying. I might try to find a good bio of Eleanor though – she sounded like a fascinating character. ( )
  DieFledermaus | Jul 10, 2010 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (1 möjlig)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Judith Koll Healeyprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Bader, NinaÜbersetzermedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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On the imagination:

The truth of the imagination leads us to compassion. These two, imagination and compassion, are the only possibility of salvation.

- W. S. Merwin

Joseph Warren Beach lecture

University of Minnesota

March 26, 2001
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To my husband, Michael
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Lady Eleanor was my stepmother, and the dearest friend of my childhood.
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also published as The Lost Letters of Aquitaine
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The only thing I felt was a strong hand around my neck, another around my waist, and -- before I could cry out -- I smelled the thick, sweet scent of a mandrake-soaked cloth. Unforgiving hands clapped it against my face, and all went dark. Alaïs, the king of France's sister, is abducted while on her mission for the wily Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former Queen of England, to retrieve hidden letters that, in the wrong hands, could bring down the English king. In exchange, the French princess was to receive long-heldand dangerous information. Now Alaïs, along with help from the very intriguing leader of the Knights Templar, must unravel a tangled web of family secrets and lies. Filled with intrigue and peopled with compelling legendary figures, The Canterbury Papers is an "electrifying journey into the past" (Booklist).

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