Friday, September 12, 2008

CFBA Tour - In the Shadow of Lions

This week the book from the CFBA tour that I am reviewing is In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett.

It is a familiar tale, or is it?

In the 1500's, history was exploding in unexpected ways in Europe. King Henry VIII sat on the throne in England, desperate for a male heir from his wife, Queen Catherine. The religious climate of the continent was in turmoil due to the works of Martin Luther and other so-called "reformers", and in the Isles Sir Thomas More put his considerable strength into protecting England from such devilish influences.

Into this background, we meet Anne Boleyn.

Is Anne the seductress history has portrayed, a woman who beguiled the king and stole the throne? Or could she be a key player in the Reformation, helping to introduce the English Bible to the people, and her religious motivations being the real reason to abstain from Henry's advances until she was made queen?

These are the questions raised in Garrett's new book. It is actually an intriguing premise focusing on three women - a modern day editor on her death bed, visited by the Scribe, an angel with a story to tell; Anne Boleyn and her journey to the throne and the guillotine, and another woman named Rose who is a street girl brought into Thomas More's household as an act of charity.

I was interested in reading this book because her previous books, Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, and Dark Hour, had premises that had me quite curious to read. I also recently did some study on William Tyndale, the English reformer and Bible translator who figures prominently in Ginger's new book.

The book has strengths and weaknesses. The set-up is an original one in my mind. She does a good job showing the setting and putting the reader into 16th century England. Unfortunately, the plot suffers quite a bit throughout the book. I felt the book was too mysterious in how it set up situations - trying to be suspenseful and having the reader wonder what was happening next, but not fully explaining what was occurring or giving enough information. I was often left confused, unsure of what happened. Many times a character did something with little motivation or cause introduced to make it believable. I mainly enjoyed the brief parts with the modern editor and the angel, although I got confused in those sections as well.

Overall this is a book that has potential as a suspenseful historical novel, but falls short in its execution of plot cohesion and character motivation. It is a wonderful time frame that has lots of drama, and it still is an insightful story in ways as far as introducing a new theory on Anne Boleyn, but I was generally disappointed in reading it. This is supposed to be a series of books - hopefully subsequent books will be weaved together in a tighter pattern.

If you would like to read an excerpt from In The Shadow Of Lions, go HERE

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