A King’s Ransom,
by Sharon Penman (Macmillan, RRP $38):
For his part in the third Crusade, King Richard the Lionheart has won prestige, legendary status and, sadly, enemies within Christian Europe itself.
As a result, his journey home becomes fraught with danger. Storms and pirates fade into insignificance when he is detained by Duke Leopold of Austria, a man with a grievance against Richard. This is really only the start of his travails.
His brother, John, and Philip, the King of France, are conspiring to divide up his lands in France. As well, Leopold’s emperor sees Richard as a cash cow, a way to increase his power and to exact his own revenge.
This is a follow-up to Penman’s previous historical novel about Richard, set during the time prior and during the third Crusade. It seems extremely well-researched and provides an eye-opening glimpse of medieval European politics and one of the more famous of England’s kings.