Katherine Deauxville,
The Amethyst Crown
(Kensington, 1994)

Maggie Davis, a.k.a. Katherine Deauxville, is one of the best writers of medieval historical novels. She is rich in detail, so well researched in history and can give you a headstrong woman, fighting to make her life the best she can, and yet, do it within the confines of reality.

The Middle Ages was a very harsh time, it was often rough on women and their few rights. But to see a writer walk the fine tightrope of creating a truly strong female character and still maintain period accuracy you should read The Amethyst Crown. It is one of her medieval sagas, (Blood Red Roses, Golden Daggers, The Crystal Heart, Eyes of Love), possibly the best of the series. It's hard to say really, because all of her medieval tales are superior and enduring works. These are the kind of deeply involving, very moving historicals that give you unforgettable characters who linger in your mind long after you put the book down.

The Amethyst Crown follows the life of the granddaughter of the hero and heroine of Blood Red Roses. Constance is a great heiress, the Countess of Morliax and a pawn to King Henry. She was 14 when she was wed to a man in his 40s as a reward for loyalty. She was 17 when he wed her to a very brutal man as part of a truce. And at 19, she was wed again to a young man who later died in war. Now, she has bought her freedom for three years, supposedly, but she soon fears the king plans to make a fourth match for her.

She is returning to Morlaix for her younger sister's wedding, where she is ordered to transport a witch and a madman to trial. On the way, beset by a terrible storm, the madman is freed but, before he escapes, slips into Constance's tent and makes love to her. Constance is shocked; widowed three times and twice a mother, she had found the act boring, at best. The madman -- who is no madman, but hiding his identity -- sets her aflame.

Their relationship -- doomed by circumstance -- is one part of the novel, which also revolves around her half-brother's plot to kidnap her, seize part of her earldom and force her into a fourth marriage.

The tale is longer than the standards of today's books, but it is totally involving. You are moved deeply by this woman's struggles in a time when woman had little power, and what they did have could be seized or given away as reward or payment due at a king's whim. Yet through it all, Constance is a tower of strength, a logical woman, yet a passionate woman, too.

I just reread this book for the first time in years, so I could write a good review. I intended to skim it just so it was fresh in my mind, but once again I was pulled in Constance's world, enthralled by the power of her passion, her devotion, her reason and her triumphs and tragedies. Kudos to Davis for creativing a truly wonderful tale of a REAL medieval woman. Recommended for readers of Sharon Kay Pennman and Diana Galbadon.

- Rambles
written by DeborahAnne MacGillivray
published 31 May 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.