I just finished A King’s Ransom, the latest book by Penman. It is the second book of a pair. Lionheart covered the Third Crusade and A King’s Ransom covered the post Crusade reign of Richard I. I plowed through both over the course of this full week. Granted, I have been suffering from bad insomnia for the last two weeks (part of the reason why I could get through both of these 700-odd page novels in a week) and that has made me cranky, but I think my principal criticism, that the main character (Richard I), is poorly developed, holds. Especially when you consider that was a problem with the first book in this pairing, which I first read and reviewed on Shelfari when it came out years ago.
And A King’s Ransom
And I am sure RI is portrayed that perfect in the historical record, but as a novelist, I think she should have rolled up her writer-sleeves and taken a pick-axe to that smooth, stony surface of perfection and dug into the man more than she did. The only time she did was when she was looking for a reason as to why Richard and Berengaria’s marriage failed. Other than that, she never really got into his head. I’m not saying she should have made things up, absolutely not, just that, as a novelist, she has the opportunity to explore the deeper ramifications of what we do know about him and his life on his psyche as a full realized, three-dimensional character.