In the final years of Aliénor of Aquitaine, the queen duchess launches a deadly dynastic chess game to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for her last surviving son, John Plantagenet. Caught in the middle is Sister Eustace, Aliénor’s young scribe, who must decide between her beloved home and an unthinkable marriage to a ruthless mercenary. With her promising debut, "The Sixth Surrender," novelist Hana Samek Norton transports readers to thirteenth century France with vivid period details and rich storytelling certain to appeal to historical fiction lovers.
The Sixth Surrender: A Novel
Reviewed by for Reader Views (09/10)
“The Sixth Surrender” by Hana Samek Norton is the fictitious story of Lady Juliana and her entwined relationship with her husband Guerin de Lasalle. Never wanting to wed Guerin, Juliana is sucked into a world full of so many twists and turns the reader may find his head spinning along with Lady Juliana. There are plots to take over kingdoms, marry off daughters and sons, and take over property. Juliana tries desperately to hold onto Tillieres, her home, which Lord Lasalle has assumed ownership of within the bonds of marriage. He treats her unkindly causing Juliana to reconsider the life of a nun. Unexpected surprises await the reader in discovering how deep many of the relationships truly run.
“The Sixth Surrender” is a very well-written book. Ms. Norton has done her research, giving fictitious stories to some “real name” characters. The medieval specifics are so well defined the reader can easily place herself in this world. The style of writing reflects the spoken language at that time, and I am impressed with Ms. Norton’s ability to stay true to that style throughout the book.
I found myself rooting for Juliana throughout “The Sixth Surrender” at every turn, and the basic story of her relationship with Guerin de Lasalle kept my focus. However, there were so many, many characters (and some with very similar names) as well as locations and intertwined relationships that I know I missed a great deal of the book. I read it, but without a referral guide to keep everybody and everyplace straight, I was confused. I have read books like this before with a large cast of characters, and have found such character guides to by helpful. That said, I still want to know the continuation of the tale of Guerin and Juliana. I feel like Ms. Norton may have more to tell us, and I am excited to read her next book.