Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Princeling by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Princeling is the third novel in the Morland Dynasty Series and is set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in northern England. The Princeling continues the story of Nanette, a fantastic character from The Dark Rose, but also introduces a riveting new cast of characters in the ever dynamic Morland family.

Paul and Elizabeth Morland have a large family and each child takes a very different path in life. The eldest son John, moves to the northern Borderlands in order to woe and marry the heiress, Mary Percy, also known as the Princeling. John changes in this fierce land and cannot fight his attraction for the beautiful, but strong Mary. Mary has grown up as the only heir, fights like a man, and dresses like one too.

Paul and Elizabeth’s second daughter Lettice, is attached to Elizabeth I’s court, but soon moves to Scotland as part of Lord Darnley’s retinue to woe Queen Mary. In Scotland, Lettice meets up with the dangerously attractive Lord Rob Hamilton and the two have a fiery attraction that doesn’t seem to diminish with the years. Side note: Why was Lettice such a popular name during this time period? And why did it disappear?

These are only two of the children, the rest of the children and other various family members also had unique and riveting stories of their own. Nanette’s family was also central to the novel. Nanette was a former lady in waiting to Anne Boleyn and Katherine Parr and finds herself pressed into service at different points in time as a trusted lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I. She is happily married to James Chapman, living at Waterford, and has three children, two of which are adopted.

The entire Morland family faces conflict and personal tragedy on all sides. Life is perilous and can be instantly taken away by childbirth, the plague, or a tragic accident. It was amazing reading the novel and thinking about how something like the plague could take out an entire family or village. It’s devastating. I was also interested in how the poor drinking water in the city of York contributed to disease. I am a water resources engineer after all and am happy we’ve been able to make such improvements in water quality over the past 100 years.

I was also intrigued by the question of religion. Paul Morland and Nanette are both Catholic, but the younger generation follows the Protestant faith. It was hard to be an average person and be able to practice religion at that point in time. If you wanted to stick with your Catholic faith, you were prosecuted for not attending the Protestant service. If you attended the Protestant service, it was against a decree by the Pope. I can see why my ancestors left England fifty years after this book for America to be able to worship freely.

Overall, I loved The Princeling. I think it is my favorite book of the saga so far. It focused on the Morland family and their personal stories, tragedies, and triumphs. Their personal stories were riveting, but how they were placed in time and the historical aspects were also compelling. It is a wonderful family saga and great historical fiction.

Book Source: Advance Review Copy from Sourcebooks. Thank-you!


  1. Interesting review, Laura. I like how you relate some of the happenings in the book to your own life, such as the part about the water. It's fascinating to compare the different times; that is one reason why I enjoy historical fiction.