REVIEW: King of the Last Days by Diana Norman

Back blurb:

“The cowled figures which stood around the open grave in the moonlight at Glastonbury in the year 1189 were used to mystery but even they were overawed by what was in the coffin.

Their great and ancient monastery was in trouble and if this sword was what they thought it was, if those bones were really Arthur’s, then they had a great relic for which their king would be properly grateful.

But their king was in France, fighting his son, Richard Coeur de Lion, and getting the sword to him would be a perilous business. A lot of people wanted that sword for a lot of reasons.

The young monk who takes it for them is unobtrusive enough but, as rumour of what he is carrying spreads, he is in danger. The companions he picks up on the way, a formidable Prioress, a Crusader haunted by the massacre in the Holy Land, may be trustworthy, or they may not.

The king they are seeking, Henry II, is sick so they are not only evading enemies, they are also in a race against time.

KING OF THE LAST DAYS makes a story full of sharp medieval detail, and lively wit and variety of mood. A very satisfying and immensely readable successor to Diana Norman’s first novel, Fitzempress’ Law.”

Dear Mrs. Norman,

Why, oh why are most of your books not still in print? Trees die daily for Cassie Edwards and Connie Mason but not for an author who truly deserves to be read by more people. Life sucks, ‘eh? The only way I knew this book existed was because it was listed at as out of print. I knew nothing else about it as there was no back blurb or reviews. So when I found it listed by an English bookseller, I took the plunge, crossed my fingers, whipped out my credit card and hoped for the best.

Since most of the books we review here are romance, let me say up front, this is not a romance. All of the your other books I’ve read so far have romances in them but not this one. What readers do get is a great view of medieval life, especially from the POV of the religious community and the peasants. All three main characters have deep feelings about Henry II and, especially for the Prioress and monk, the law he instituted (which serves as the backbone of English Common Law). There is enough period detail to set it firmly in medieval times but not enough truly gross details to ick me out.

You refrain from inventing over melodramatic backstories or forcing nonessential subplots into the story so it’s short (189 pages) but still rich in the tale you’re trying to tell. I still blush and/or shudder to think what I paid for this book but I have to say that it was worth it. “King of the Last Days” is yet another reason I’m thankful you’re an author.



0 comments on “REVIEW: King of the Last Days by Diana Norman

  1. Give Sonia Overall’s ‘A Likeness’ a try. OK, it’s in Elizabethan dialect, but it’s easy to get used to it and to be honest, the story makes it worthwhile. Hm, maybe I should do a review. I didn’t like her next book, which sets in a Victorian-era seaside town, though. The narrator is a child, but the author makes the girl’s voice far too mature.

    I did hear that she’s currently writing another historical novel that revolves around a puppet master who falls for a wealthy man’s mistress. It sounds good, so I look forward to this one. 😀 Anyway, do give Sonia Overall’s A Likeness a try if you can. I’ll send a copy to you if it’s HTF in the US.

  2. Maili! Good to hear from you again. I’ve already ordered “A Likeness.” Love, love, love online shopping! Thanks for the rec. I see you’re reading The Alchemist’s Daughter which is on my ever growing TBR list. Post a review when you’re done please. 😉

  3. Yep, I got this one, too. (King of the Last Days). Can’t. Wait. To. Read it. Right now, I’m kinda hoarding it like her new book. Have you read that one yet, Jayne, dear?

    Maili, yes, please do a review. I have that one, too.(Alchemist Daughter)

  4. Ooh, more out of print books to find. Seriously it sounds good. I agree that life doesn’t seem fair when there seems to be drivel that keeps getting published and good authors just don’t get the publicity.

  5. I should warn people interested in this book that it’s seriously very hard to find. I think libraries might be the best option. People living in the UK will probably have the best luck finding it.

  6. i love her books and very rarely buy, i belong to my library and just reserve any book for a mear 75p if they cant get it from other libraries they get it laser printed, so maybe if you have trouble finding books, try your library….best invention ever

  7. The prices for Diana Norman books are pretty high, but I’ve got lucky twice in secondhand bookshops. Daughter of Lir was £5 in Barter Books in Alnwick, and The Morning Gift cost me all of £2 from a secondhand shop in Holmfirth.

    Still looking for a reasonably priced copy of Fitzempress’ Law, which is possibly the best book ever. I’ve only read it because a very kind friend lent me her (very pricey) Amazon copy.

  8. Strop, I was lucky in that I started to collect DN books after reading “A Catch of Consequence” a few years ago. Since then, the prices have gone through the roof. This is one author who could cash in on ebooks but I’ve yet to see any of her OOP books be reissued. Bummer. I did luck into a copy of Fitzempress’ Law through for about $4.00. Yep, that’d be about £2. WOOT! was I excited. 🙂

  9. Now that’s one I’ve not read yet. The pressure to hoarde reading her books is eased a little bit since discovering her books written as Ariana Franklin but she still hasn’t published enough that I can zip through them with abandon.

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