Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Devil's Brood.
The final installment of the trilogy of Sharon Kay Penman’s dearly loved books of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine is a marvelous reading experience. Owing to their coalition and associations, theirs is a kingdom that includes a vast and extensive Christian realm. Although fans will be heartbroken seeing the trilogy end, they won’t be disappointed. As always, Penman brings characters who lived hundreds of years ago to life today. One can’t help but empathize with Eleanor and her king, Henry II, as they desperately attempt to show the love they share for their children while trying to also balance the needs of the people and their respective kingdoms.
Henry is focused on holding on to, as well as expanding, his kingdom to pass on to their eldest son, Hal. Meanwhile, Eleanor is obsessed with maintaining her duchy of Aquitaine for their second son, Richard. Eleanor and their three eldest sons turn against their father, husband, and king, by siding with Louis of France, Henry’s most ruthless enemy. Tragically, when two of their sons die, it puts all they have in grave danger, most especially their tempestuous but passionate personal relationship. Henry’s greatest loss, even more than his sons’ turning against him, however, is his wife’s disloyalty. As in so many other great love stories, we wonder how two people who love each other so deeply could at the same time be such ruthless rivals.
Fans of historical fiction will love this book of the struggle in a complex family, the tale of a great leader whose brilliance forged an empire but who turned an eye that led him to the biggest mistake of his life. Regardless of the fact that you know the historical outcome, you still find yourself captured by the drama of the times and the personalities of this family and its friends and enemies.