The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton
Publication Date: July 2010
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: Paperback, 480 pp
Genre: Historical Fiction
(Received for review from Pump Up Your Book Promotions)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound
Author's Website: www.hanasameknorton.com
Author's Blog: Click HERE!
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Excerpt: Click HERE!
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
"Siege, storm, surprise, subterfuge, suborning, they say there are five means of gaining a well - guarded citadel. There is a sixth one - surrender."
Sister Eustace, born Lady Juliana, the last of the de Charnais line, is about to pledge body and soul to the cause of the queen duchess, Alienor of Aquataine. Learned yet humble, passionate yet wholly innocent, Juliana has a singular determination - to possess her rightful home, the viscounty of Tillieres.
Alienor's young scribe must choose: husband or the cloister. Juliana prays for a man who is honorable, kind, and literate. Instead she is promised to Guerin de Lasalle, a worldly though landless mercenary with a blackened soul. The couple enters the union with just one shared desire, to put an end to the marriage.
As the queen's prophecy, "Honor, like love, comes in many guises," echoes through Juliana's first days as a wife, the race intensifies to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, Alienor's last surviving son. Schemes by traitorous lords and the mystery of Lasalle's past could cost Juliana his thrones - and Juliana her life.
This is a 2010 debut novel, by author Hana Samek Norton, packs a punch. With meticulous research and great attention to the slightest of details, Norton brings the reader a book filled with passion and adventure as well as engaging characters and details of medieval life that make the story come alive. This is a refreshing tale with the reign of the queen duchess, Alienor of Aquataine and the Plantagenet's as a backdrop.
Lady Juliana is a woman who has to make a choice. Will she continue on a path to become a nun, Sister Eustace or at the behest of Alienor or Aquataine will she choose marriage to the scheming, Guerin de Lasalle? In order to have her home of Tillieres she marries Lasalle, even though they both do not want the marriage. Lasalle has very little morals and a shady past. As the queen duchess fights to keep the throne for her only remaining son, John, Juliana must fight to keep what's hers.
Hana Samek Norton brings 13th century history into focus with her novel, The Sixth Surrender. It is a tale of political intrigue as well as one woman's journey to keep her home safe. There were several things I liked about the story. It was for a refreshing look at Alienor of Aquataine. She is most usually portrayed a very hard woman who had no sympathy for anything or anyone that was not a part of her overall plans for England. Norton gives Alienor some vulnerability in this novel that I liked, she seemed more like a real person and less like a figure head.
Juliana was a wonderful character. She was strong and determined and knew that she had to be willing to do some things that she didn't want to do in order to accomplish her goals. Lasalle certainly would not have been her first choice as a husband but in the end he suited her purpose better than she could have expected. I thought that she was very easy to relate to; a young woman forced to make difficult decisions. Lasalle's character was a bit harder to like, in fact, most readers probably won't like him at all, but they will respect him as a good character because he really brought everything together in this novel.
The historical detail in this novel is phenomenal. It is obvious from the style of the writing and the descriptive elements and historical facts that the author did meticulous research and probably spent an unbelievable amount of time on this project. It makes the overall effect of the book, very authentic. It's one of those books that you have to remind yourself that it's fiction.
There were a few things that may give some readers pause while reading this novel. There is a small amount of language and some sexual content that might not be expected in a novel of this type. As a reader I try to be open minded and give the book as a whole a chance in spite of things like that, so I wasn't bothered by it. It's a great story and isn't overshadowed by this kind of thing, so I would still recommend it to my readers, with just a cautionary note.
As a first effort I thought the author did an excellent job with this one and I look forward to what we can expect to come from Hana Samek Norton. I recommend it to readers who are historical fiction lovers, the historical details alone will endear this one to you.
The Sixth Surrender is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Hana Samek Norton was born and raised in the (now) Czech Republic where she first learned the difference between a halbred and a hauberk. She currently lives in New Mexico with her husband.