A powerful historical novel by the late Ariana Franklin and her daughter Samantha Norman, The Siege Winter is a tour de force mystery and murder, adventure and intrigue, a battle for a crown, told by two courageous young women whose fates are intertwined in 12th century England's devastating civil war.
1141. England is engulfed in war as King Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Matilda, vie for the crown. In this dangerous world, not even Emma, an 11-year-old peasant, is safe. A depraved monk obsessed with redheads kidnaps the ginger-haired girl from her village and leaves her for dead. When an archer for hire named Gwyl finds her, she has no memory of her previous life. Unable to abandon her, Gwyl takes the girl with him, dressing her as a boy, giving her a new name - Penda - and teaching her to use a bow. But Gwyn knows that the man who hurt Penda roams free, and that a scrap of evidence she possesses could be very valuable.
Gwyl and Penda make their way to Kenilworth, a small but strategically important fortress that belongs to 15-year-old Maud. Newly wedded to a boorish and much older husband after her father's death, the fierce and determined young chatelaine tempts fate and Stephen's murderous wrath when she gives shelter to the empress.
Aided by a garrison of mercenaries, including Gwyl and his odd red-headed apprentice, Maud will stave off Stephen's siege for a long, brutal winter that will bring a host of visitors to Kenilworth - kings, soldiers... and a sinister monk with deadly business to finish.
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I didn't want it to end. It was an emotional roller coaster. I loved the female characters - strong, but vulnerable. I loved the humor of the book. The book brought the period of 12th century history to life, the complete and total chaos of a country ruled by anarchy - absence of law. Please give us more books!
Gwill was my favorite character. He was solid, competent and loyal, a real old-fashioned hero. But I loved the humor of Maude. Pender's character created the emotional distress of the book, a little girl, who had endured a horror, that tied the entire book together. As a real-life mother of a girl, it was the worst nightmare of a parent. Her character created the strong physical reaction to the book.
The reader was fabulous. Excellent accents. Excellent oral interpretation. Will search for more books read by this author.
I had a physical reaction to the book. It upset my stomach, tightened my chest and interfered with my sleep - an emotional roller coaster.
- South Carolina Senior
Pleasant Listen, Above Average Writing