Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023

Europe’s medieval era is famous for its chivalrous stories of shining knights, epic battles and romantic love. The resonating tales of King Arthur and his court emphasize knightly virtues, and storied royal and noble courts followed in the footsteps of this legendary forefather. Noblemen defended their ladies and protected the poor and the innocent. Traveling troubadours recounted their exploits around the castle hearth to entertain enraptured audiences. Natasha Siegel’s novel “Solomon’s Crown” recounts the captivating and chivalrous romance of two men during this time period, between a French king and the heir to the English throne.

Philip II is the king of France. Obtaining his crown at age 14, he seeks to master the art of politics and international diplomacy. He has inherited a weakened country from his distracted father, who lost swathes of territory piece by piece in order to appease their English rivals. Philip is determined to bring glory back to the French throne and quell his rebellious nobles until France gains the luster and preeminence it once deserved from its European neighbors. That is his intention, until an English subject arrives to distract him.

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Richard is the second son of King Henry II of England and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. At the beginning of the novel, he is the Duke of Aquitaine and also an unsuccessful upstart; he and his brothers had formed a rebellion against their father with the help of the French king. Defeated and returning to his domains, the spirited man crosses paths with Philip, the newly crowned ruler of France. His passion and his heart overtakes them, until he finds a way to seduce the monarch by any means possible. He realizes their tryst can only get more complicated and difficult after his older brother dies, and he is the new heir to the English throne.

“Solomon’s Crown” is an historical fantasy novel, portraying a tempestuous love affair between royal houses. While the two main characters may have crossed paths from time to time historically, not unusual given their respective statuses, there is no proof that a romantic relationship occurred between them. Despite this, the creative author presents an intriguing and imaginative story that leaves the reader asking wistfully what would have happened if such a liaison had occurred.

David Arndt is a freelance reviewer in Fredericksburg.

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