Welcome my fellow Book Dragons to this evening’s Throwback Thursday. Tonight’s Gem is quite special. This is an ancient brooch, bedecked in Gems from the time of Henry II, King of England. Husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Father of three Kings of England, including Richard the Lion-Heart. A beautiful, jewel encrusted brooch where each tells a story and all fit together wonderfully. This is “Falls Ende: Primus” by Gem Maker Paul W. Feenstra and he has become one of my favorite new historical fiction writers. What tales he doth tell!
From the very first page we see a Lord who must choose to believe a lowly herdsman or his own son, a knight in his service, in public, in front of his household. A task for Solomon, perhaps. But this Lord has integrity and fealty. (Don’t you love stories that include words such as fealty?). He chooses the herdsman and his young son. Good things are rewarded here.
We also get to meet with Henry, himself as he governs his land and meets with his Lords and plans his strategies for war, for example what manpower will he need if he goes to Ireland? What did Henry do when he wasn’t at the castle or on the battlefield? Does Feenstra allow him to live up to his reputation or does he make myth of the man? He allows Henry his reputation. Something else Feenstra does that I highly appreciate, is that he doesn’t ‘dumb down’ his book by making the language overly modern. He uses words that fit the times, he just gives the definition of the word discreetly at the bottom of the page. No footnotes that are hard to follow or gaudy or irritating, just a nudge to say, “This is what that means” and moves on. In this day and age where all too often Lords and Ladies sound as though they just graduated from the San Fernando Valley, it’s refreshing to read a book that actually uses the language of the times. More and more historical fiction writers are going with this. When you read it in a book, drop them a line or write a review letting them know you appreciate it, because this takes so much time and effort. It is a work of love.
I have seen both “Becket” and “A Lion in Winter” and studied Henry’s life (all nestlings are required to study the kings of Europe, especially English Kings, you know) and this book of Feenstra’s is true to the time in dialogue, characters and setting. It was, in a word, delicious!
If you are ready to find a new favorite historical fiction writer for this era this year, then, by all means, grab this one. “Falls Ende: Primus” is available in both hardback and paperback on Amazon or his web page. I have the paperback version.
FLAME FLASH: I have just been informed by the Gem Maker: Paul W. Feenstra that Falls Ende: Tertium is now halfway completed! We know now that Odo’s story is going to continue! So be sure to watch here for Falls Ende: Secundus coming in the next month or so!
Until tomorrow, I remain, your humble Book Dragon, Drakon T. Longwitten
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.