Title: When Christ and His Saints Slept
Author: Sharon Kay Penman
Genre: Historical Fiction
This is the true story of Maude, daughter of King Henry I who is forced into marriage with Geoffrey of Anjou. After losing his sons in the sinking of the White Ship, Henry I chooses to do the unthinkable: name Maude, a woman, as his heir. When he dies, Maude's cousin Stephen snatches races to London and only 3 weeks late is he crowned King. This is the story of Maude's fight for her rightful claim to the crown, and for her son, Henry.
This book stands on it's own but it is part of a triology about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. We see her later on the this book, along with Henry.
Penman, I think, is probably the best writer of historical stories where it is known to be very complicated politically. About two thirds of this book is Maude and Stephen's war, which I didn't find always intriguing, but it was never confusing. While getting through this first part of the book I was wishing it was shorter. The last part, where we see more of Henry and Eleanor, it gets really, really exciting. It definitely makes you want to pick up the next book and find out more about their relationship.
As always, Penman is spot on with her historical detail. You can't go wrong with her when you want accuracy. I would have given this book an 8 but for the really really long campaigne storyline.