The Forever Queen

The Forever Queen : Sometimes, a Desperate Kingdom is in Need of One Great Woman

3.72 (3,977 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.72 (3,977 ratings by Goodreads)

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A USA Today Bestseller!

"Hollick does a remarkable job of bringing to life a little known but powerful queen... an absorbing plot that never lags over the course of a fat, satisfying book."--Publishers Weekly

Sometimes, a desperate kingdom is in need of one great woman

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom-and her crown-are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England's shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.

What Reviewers Are Saying

"Hollick is a master at making each historic scene come alive in the mind of a character with the most to lose... rich, tasty, sugary sludge of historical fiction... the best the genre has to offer."--Historical Novels Review

"Brilliant prose, historical accuracy, and rich detail bring this violent era to life. The Forever Queen stands as a well-detailed biographical account of one of England's strongest, most determined queens."-- Historical Novel Review Blog

"A rich and descriptive tapestry of Anglo Saxon history, warring factions, political intrigue and betrayal, brutal violence, and yes, love."--Queen of Happy Endings

Praise for Helen Hollick

"A very talented writer."--Sharon Kay Penman, bestselling author of Devil's Brood

"If only all historical fiction could be this good." --Historical Novels Review

"Hollick juggles a large cast of characters and a bloody, tangled plot with great skill."--Publishers Weekly

"Helen Hollick has it all. She tells a great story." --Bernard Cornwell

(This book was previously published in the U.K. as THE HOLLOW CROWN.)
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Product details

  • Paperback | 633 pages
  • 159 x 235 x 32mm | 612g
  • Naperville, United States
  • English
  • 1402240686
  • 9781402240683
  • 283,327

Review quote

"Helen Hollick has clearly done her historical homework, not only making these events educational for me, but entertaining as well. " -- The Calico Critic
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About Helen Hollick

Helen Hollick lives in northeast London with her husband, daughter and a variety of pets, which include several horses, cats, and two dogs. She has two major interests: Roman/Saxon Britain and the Golden Age of Piracy--the early eighteenth century.
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Rating details

3.72 out of 5 stars
- 3,977 ratings
5 25% (989)
4 37% (1,479)
3 26% (1,041)
2 8% (338)
1 3% (130)

Our customer reviews

From sparse historical data, Hollick pieces together the story of Emma, daughter of Richard I of Normandy, just as she has been contracted to marry King Aethelred of England. We follow her life as a young girl matched with an ineffectual and quick tempered husband as she slowly comes into herself. As she makes friends and grows confident, we see the beginnings of a loyal and charismatic leader. Emma's world is full of violence, political intrigue, war and uncertainty - which makes for a gripping and fascinating novel. While the book is around 650 pages, too long for one sitting, it's hard not to stay up all night. Emma draws you in with her sense of honor, her humor and her complicated and unusual life. If you're fond of historical fiction and not squeamish about violence, war, intrigue and betrayal, do check out The Forever Queen. It's a fun, satisfying read. ISBN-10: 1402240686 - Trade Paperback Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (November 1, 2010), 656 pages. Review copy provided by the more
by Gaby @ Starting Fresh
As most of you who have followed my reviews for any length of time know I am a real European history buff - especially British history. I have to admit, however, that I have never known much about the early history of Britain and very little about Anglo Saxon history. Therefore, I was quite happy to have been given an opportunity to read "The Forever Queen" whose time frame is 1066. Weaving a plot with many diverse characters, warring factions in areas that no longer even exist and a very involved plot takes great skill and dexterity to to well - the reader, after all, must be able to follow along. Helen Hollick has pulled this technical feat off with adroitness. The story of "The Forever Queen" recounts the history of Queen Emma, who, although her story is shrouded in a place where the life of a of women, even a queen, had little value in recounting- is a story that is fascinating, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable and instructive. When people use the word instructive it gives a sense of dryness I suppose but I use the word 'instructive' as one of living history - wonderful readability, enthralling and excellent historical story telling. The author notes that Queen Emma's history is even harder to accurately piece together that that of the later, but better know, Queen Eleanor of Aquaintaine. Emma was of Norman birth - a link between the factions of the Normans and the English. Emma's true name was Alfgifu, but she seems to have preferred to keep and use her given name of Emma for all but State and official do***ents. Emma was married early, in 1022, to the cruel Aethelred - as a King he was, useless. corrupt and ineffective at ruling. As a man he was even more cruel - I think all in all I would consider him a misogynist. From the author's notes we read that "....Emma is the only woman to have been an anointed, crowned and reigning queen to two different Saxon Kings, yet she is barely known in history...". After the death of King Aethelred II in 1016 Emma re-married , albeit cautiously, to the Danish King Cnut (the Great) had been born about 994 and was crowned King in 1014. His brother, Harald become the King of the Danes at this time as well. . For a fascinating historical synopsis of King Cnut see Wikipedia.For additional details on King Cnut and Queen Emma have a look here. The author, in her very well done Author's notes also comments that during the Victorian times King Cnut's name was anglicized to Canute to sound more realistically English. It is said that King Cnut - who Emma came to love, admire and respect very much had a daughter by a previous mistress that he brought to England to live at Court. Queen Emma had a son King Aetherlred, Edward, who was begotten by more of a rape than an act of love. He was known to torture small animals as a youth and was ultimately sent to the North to become King of the Danes to keep him away from Queen Emma - who he disliked - but Cnut never wanted her to know that truth. Edward ruled the Danes with the ruthlessness by which he had become known. A daughter was born to King Cnut by a earlier mistress whom he brought to England. It is said that Edward allowed her to be drowned in a mill race he watched - it was after this occurence that he was sent to Denmark. As a a side note - Queen Emma is the great aunt of the famous William the Conqueror. As you may be able to guess by now I thoroughly loved this book. It provided me with so much well researched early history of Britain that I had never known about - or had chosen not to read about I suppose. Helen Hollick is, in my opinion, a master story teller who carefully researches her subjects. Most all of her book is true from a historical point of view and, where people, places , names or events have been changed she notes that in her well done Author's notes. For a period in history that has so little factual information written about it I am astounded at what an amazing book has resulted. I think that anyone who is a fan of medieval and/or Anglo-Saxon history owes it to themselves to read this book. Once you start - you will not want to stop. There is, of course, a tremendous amount of history in this book but it also includes information of what sorts of medicines were used by the common people - or the royal ones too for that matter. There is also a entirely strong vision of what the feudal system was like at the time as well as how the continuous wars and political instability of the region had such a deleterious effect on this part of history. This book paints a vivid portrait of the time as well as of a Queen who has had such a lasting effect on the history of England. It's truly an amazing book that I am very grateful to have read! Go get your copy! I can't imagine that you would regret it!show more
by Marie Johansen
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