I love historical fiction as a genre, so much so that it will be what I will be doing for my Honours next year. I also love reading about old English royal families, so it was with great excitement that I picked up The Young Lion by Blanche D’Alpuget from my local library, eager to read some historical fiction about the House of Plantagenet. But alas, amongst the many excellent books I have had the privilege of reading in the last two months there had to be something ordinary, and this was that ordinary book.
It is difficult to put my finger on what I disliked about this book so much. I did, indeed, find it interesting learning more about England, Normandy and France of the 12th century and the politics of that time. I think, overall though, I just didn’t think the writing was all that great and none of the characters were particularly interesting.
There was so much potential here. I understand that this is the first in a series of books the author plans to write about the Plantagenets, but there was not enough here to keep me interested. The man who is to become King, Henry, has a telepathic link with horses, huh? Riiiiight. Historical fiction is one thing but treating readers like idiots is something else entirely. I did not have a problem with the closer look at Henry’s relationships, as such, but felt they were quite a bore. I would have much rather read more about the battles fought, won and lost instead of the few pages that were devoted to this side of things. I don’t particularly care about the ‘milkmaids’ of men in power or what they need to do to get their release when not with their wives…
I guess that’s it in a nutshell – not enough solid writing here to keep me interested, with the author getting distracted by unnecessary side tales to try and bulk this out to four books in a series. I am unlikely to read more historical fiction by this author again.
The Young Lion by Blanche D’Alpuget – 2 out of 5 stars.