#12 A Review of Montfort: The Early Years by Katherine Ashe

Simon de Montfort, the founder of English Parliament, has quite a resume.  He was a renowned knight, amazing military strategist, and was pressed into a monarchy, which he rejected.  However, all great men start somewhere, and Montfort The Early Years by Katherine Ashe details the early years of Montfort’s distinguished life.

We begin with a young Montfort, inexperienced in the ways of the world and not too eager to step out into it as well.  Despite this, he is thrust into the fray early on as he is tasked with retaining his family’s long-unused earldom in the court of King Henry III.  Although Montfort is new at this game, he begins full of pride and ideas about what his experience will be like.  Unfortunately he regains nothing of his pride as he becomes infatuated with Queen Eleanor, King Henry’s wife, and becomes incredibly frustrated with his feelings as he cannot obtain her.  As such, Montfort turns his attentions to the King’s sister, countess Eleanor, a nun.  Already a rising star in Henry’s court, Henry gives his permission to Montfort to marry Eleanor, knowing that he truly does love her.  This gaiety does not last for long, however, as Montfort soon begins seeing the Queen secretly, as rumors of Henry’s impotence fly.  With all of this occurring at such a quick pace, we also are treated to the sights and sounds of medieval Europe and all of its decadence as a backdrop to this riveting and compelling story.  Love him or hate him, Montfort is a definite force in Henry’s court, and the mark he leaves will be one that is not soon forgotten.

I enjoy historical fiction novels where it is evident that they have been meticulously researched.  I always enjoyed history when I was in school, so I like the fact that on top of being entertained by the plot, I’m also learning.  In this case, I learned about King Henry III, the Crusades, and medieval culture and customs.  There is something so appealing and exciting about medieval knights and jousting tournaments and courtly love, and with all three filling the pages of Montfort, you can correctly assume that I eagerly gobbled this book up!

Along with the fantastic research, we are treated to Ashe’s astoundingly well written labor of love on Montfort’s life.  We definitely go through a gauntlet of emotions with Montfort: from love and elation, to a deeply harrowing depression.  The tides of emotions that we ride on with Montfort are incredibly detailed, taking the reader on the journey with him.  I’m ashamed to say that prior to reading Montfort I was not at all familiar with his life and accomplishments.  Having now read book one in the four-part series I can say that I’m definitely anticipating long nights of non-stop reading.  I can’t wait to see what else Ashe has in store for us with her biopic on the remainder of his life.  If the subsequent works are anywhere as good as this one I’m in for a treat!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Montfort: The Early Years by Katherine Ashe
CreateSpace (2010)
Paperback 332 pages
ISBN: 9781439264669

Special thanks to Katherine for sending me my review copy!  Keep your eye out for my review on the next book in the series Montfort: The Viceroy.

The January Round-Up

Staff Bloggers: Adam, Todd, Kim, and Charlie (L-R)

January has been an EXPLOSIVE month!  I’ve more than doubled the amount of books I read in January of 2010 (only 7), finishing up at a total of 15 for the month.  I’m pretty proud of my 15 considering I’ve had a fairly hectic month.  The bowling league that Todd and I are a part of started back up, taking over my Thursday evenings each week.  Charlie and I have been heading to the movies every Tuesday to take advantage of $5 movie night.  With Oscar season just around the corner we’re trying to catch up on everything we haven’t seen!  Todd and I also made a few trips to NYC this month, hitting up our favorite bookstore, The Strand, and getting to see Mary Poppins on Broadway.  Todd and I were also able to meet up with fellow Reflections of a Book Addict bloggers Adam and Charlie for a get together in Manhattan.  There were lots of other things going on this month, but those were the highlights!

The Apothecary's DaughterOn to the reading! I tried to keep it eclectic this month and read a variety of genres: paranormal, romance, historical fiction, mystery, and graphic novels.  I still owe you guys some reviews, so keep an eye on the blog.  The one I’m most looking forward to sharing with you is The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen.  My top read for the month was The Night Sky by Maria Sutton (I posted my review yesterday).

Great reads coming up on the horizon! Todd is currently reading the first book in The Vineart War trilogy, Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman, as well as Timeline by Michael Crichton.  Flesh and Fire is a fantasy novel, while Timeline is science fiction.  (Additionally, if you’re a fan of sci-fi/fantasy/magical novels, then may I suggest you sign up for Roof Beam Reader’s Magical March Challenge?)  Charlie’s got some great film reviews coming up, including one for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Carnal, a new graphic novel from Sea Lion Books, is on Adam’s plate for February, as well as a review of the film The Artist.  And me? Well, I’ve got a lot coming up for you! The Kitchen Daughter, Montfort, The Psychology of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo are just a few of the titles coming soon.

I hope that your own individual challenges are going well and that you’re finding some great titles!  Keep on reading my friends, and leave your recommendations below!

Happy Reading!!