The Siege Winter

The Siege Winter

3.89 (1,985 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 twelfth 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 eleven-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 fifteen-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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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 135 x 203 x 23mm | 227g
  • William Morrow & Company
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0062282573
  • 9780062282576
  • 941,204

Review quote

"One of the most compelling, suspenseful mysteries I've read in years."--New York Times bestselling author Sharon Kay Penman (on Mistress of the Art of Death)
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Back cover copy

England, 1141. The countryside is devastated by a long civil war as the English king, Stephen, and his cousin, the Empress Matilda, battle for the crown. . . .

Emma is the eleven-year-old redheaded daughter of a peasant family. When mercenaries pass through their town, they bring with them a monk with a deadly interest in young redheaded girls. Emma is left for dead in a burned-out church until Gwil, an archer, finds her by chance. Gwil takes Emma with him, dressing her as a boy to avoid attention. Emma becomes Penda--and Penda turns out to have a killer instinct with a bow and arrow.

Maud is the fifteen-year-old chatelaine of Kenniford, a small but strategically important castle she's determined to protect. But when Maud provides refuge for the empress, Stephen's armies lay siege to Kenniford Castle. Aided by a garrison of mercenaries--including Gwil and his odd, redheaded apprentice--they must survive a long winter under siege. It's a brutal season that brings everyone to Kenniford--including the sinister monk who has never stopped hunting the redheaded girl. . . .

"Enthralling. . . . A grand yet intimate historical adventure."--Library Journal

"[A] thoroughly captivating tale."--Kirkus Reviews
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Rating details

1,985 ratings
3.89 out of 5 stars
5 26% (516)
4 44% (878)
3 24% (478)
2 5% (90)
1 1% (23)
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