Read The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick Online


What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more? 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-andWhat kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more? 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....

Title : The Forever Queen
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781402240683
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 635 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Forever Queen Reviews

  • Cathy Douglas
    2019-04-23 00:02

    Hmm, well. I finished it, which at 600+ pages means I must have liked it at least a little. It's one of those cases, common with historical fiction, where I liked the story but not the book. Little is known of the historic Emma of Normandy's life, but what we do know is jam-packed with material for a historical romance: She was married to both Ethelred the Unready and his usurper, the viking who the English came to call Canute the Great. When it came time for her eldest son to inherit the throne, she supported his opponent. Somehow, inconvenient people in her life kept dying under mysterious circumstances. Intriguing, yes?What a waste to portray a woman like that as a goody-two-shoes! I mean, at one point an opponent gets fairly chosen king, so that she's forced into exile. She refuses to cooperate with the lawful King of England in any way, refuses his good will, rallies her reluctant son to get an invasion together, and gets her supporters to blockade English ports. Why? According to Hollick, she pulls these stunts for the good of England. Oh, really? Bullshit--she's trying to get her power back, because she liked being the queen. That's much more interesting, and more likely, than the good guys/bad guys scenario Hollick is trying to force on Emma's story. She's taken a psychologically complex character, and in covering up her warts turned her into a paper doll of a woman.One of the most irritating instances of this is the way Hollick portrays Emma's eldest son, the man who later became known as Edward the Confessor. Emma doesn't like him. Emma is good. So Edward's got to be bad, right? The character just goes around doing whatever Emma doesn't like, whatever isn't going to work for her, with no internal consistency.Hollick's writing is mostly pretty basic, but she has an annoying habit of breaking up sentences. At places where it doesn't really work, so that you're left. With fragments. And I have nothing against fragments, but the ideas. Get chopped and remixed in ways that don't really make. Any sense.

  • Tania
    2019-05-17 00:05

    "There is the type of woman you love for your need and the type you need because of your love. The two are not the same, and only the fortunate manage to find the second." This is my first non philipa gregory "kings and queens" book, and I really enjoyed it. I got a strong sense of what it was like to live in England at that time. As this is 11th century history, a lot of interpretation has to happen to build a story based on the known facts. I did not agree with all of the author's views (for instance I was not convinced with her reason for why Cnut didn't leave his other wife, Aelfgifu), but I was still entertained by the book. Emma of Normandy certainly had an extraordinary life, even for a queen. She was married to King Aethelred II at a young age, when he died she married the new King Cnut, son of the Viking King who conquered England at that time. She then lived to see two of her sons become kings. She is potrayed as a strong but ambitious woman in The Forever queen. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoy historical fiction about the British monarchy.

  • Aprail
    2019-05-06 21:19

    English is my first language so I have certain expectations that books written in English might be grammatically correct. The grammatical lapses in the book make reading it jarring. There is also lots of bad writing. For example, some of the more risibly memorable items I read aloud to my husband.."hung like a stone", 'the option of choice', 'a mixture of displeasure'. This book should have had an editor. I remember one sentence "Money gives way to prejudice". I'm pretty sure the author meant "Prejudice gives way to money". Or perhaps "Money sweeps away prejudice".Grammar and bad writing aside, a book could still be a darn good read but you can't really call this book a novel either. The characters are one dimensional and most of the book is 'telling' and not showing. I'll grant that the book is historical. Unfortunately its jsut not a rippingly good read. The main character, Emma, doesn't do a whole lot and the author ducks the non-historical stuff. In the book we are to suppose that Emma falls in love with Cnut and he with her but we don't see it happen, we are just told it did. Similarly, no sex. Lots of babies but no sex scenes. If you don't know much about this period of history you might enjoy wading through this book but I think you will forget everything in it - except some of the examples of bad writing.

  • Elia Princess of Starfall
    2019-05-09 19:02

    Frankly, in the end, when all is said and done, I am just glad to have finally finished A Hollow Crown. Oh yes. Look, I adore historical fiction. It's my absolute favorite genre and I'm constantly on the prowl for new fascinating novels to whet my interest. There's just something so amazing about stepping into a distant world so utterly different and vivid from our own. Alas, although the Anglo-Saxon world of A Hollow Crown was well-drawn and historically accurate, I found Hollick's novel to be flawed, drawn-out, sorely lacking in moral ambiguity and rife with simplistic and unlikable characters. Now don't me wrong, I did enjoy the novel in general but I am not blind to its rather glaring faults. A Hollow Crown could have been an epic and brilliant novel about Queen Emma and Anglo-Saxon England but unfortunately this was not to be. Several aspects, from characterization to a meandering plot, hampered my ability to appreciate A Hollow Crown and thus settle it with a three star raring. TO THE REVIEW!Emma of Normandy, Queen of England, was wife to Aethelred II "the Unready" and to his Danish successor, the viking invader Cnut the Great. Along with being wife to two Kings of England, Emma was mother to two more, Harthacnut by Cnut and Edward "the Confessor" by Aethelred. Despite her royal status, power, wealth and influence over the affairs of England and Normandy during the 11th century, Emma has never been the subject of much historical fiction. As far as I am aware, only Helen Hollick and Patricia Branwell have put pen to paper and told the story of Emma (albeit with artistic licence and occasional melodrama). Emma's life is an enthralling tale that deserves to be better known and recognised; here is a queen, powerful, affluent and respected, who held the reigns of government successively on many occasions and never gave in when her throne, crown or life was threatened. Now that's the story people want to hear. And it's the one Hollick kinda gives us. A Hollow Crown focuses on Emma's life from her unhappy marriage to Aethelred at age 13 to the succession of her son Edward as King of England. Set in Anglo-Saxon England during the 11th century when the viking invasions of Swein Forkbeard, king of Denmark, and those of his son Cnut, Emma's world is brutal, unfair and ruthless. A world where women are second-class citizens, where murder and betrayal are everyday occurrences, a world of stinking and overcrowded towns, of stone churches, high-minded priests and of the kings and queens who rule over their subjects and lands with absolute authority. In theory at least. The England where Emma will make her kingdom and home is in turmoil. Viking raids have ravaged the countryside and coastline, inflicting rape, murder and pillaging upon the hapless subjects of King Aethelred, a paranoid, spiteful and hardhearted man, is in despair. He cannot protect his kingdom or his people. His thegns and ealdormen do not respect or obey him. The Vikings massacre and raid at will, returning year after year. With his first wife dead from childbirth, Aethelred seeks out a marriage alliance with the Duchy of Normandy, hoping to close the Norman coasts to the Viking threat. Duke Richard offers his youngest sister, Emma, to Aethelred. And that's how our story begins. A Hollow Crown was a mixed read IMHO. It was sometimes enjoyable, sometimes disappointing. It started out wonderfully; overflowing with the sights, sounds and smells of 11th century England. The characters were interesting and intriguing and hinted deeper underlying motives. There were no blatant historical anachronisms or romanticism of the Anglo-Saxon world. The stage was set for a deep and fascinating read' learning about the frenzied, power-driven exploits of Queen Emma, Kings Swein, Aethelred, Cnut and Harthacnut and the various nobles, priests and thegns as they struggled, schemed and warred over the kingdom of England.IMHO A Hollow Crown started with an almighty bang but ended with a faded whimper. To put it simply, the novel was just too long and disjointed. There was simply not enough plot to justify an 850 page novel. Add in multiple narrators who are seen just once and numerous side plots irreverent to Emma or her story and witness just how rapidly A Hollow Crown becomes a chore to read. As the story goes on, Emma begins to become less and less important. She's basically side-lined in her own story by characters who are uninteresting, unimportant and whose overall influence on her is akin to that of undiscovered potato in medieval Europe. Now don't get me wrong alternate perspectives can inspire greater interest and depth when used sparingly. However in A Hollow Crown, Emma's story is often overtaken by other distracting narratives that were really just and unnecessary. I feel that by trying to cover all possible stories the author did a disservice to Emma and to the plot which in the end made for a dragged out and slow-paced story. Also the writing style didn't help. NOT. AT. ALL. Hollick's prose is basic and uncomplicated at best; nothing subtle or sublime about it in the slightest. It's very serviceable and competent but it lacks passion, refinement or finesse. However if I'm not mistaken this is Ms. Hollick's debut novel so I'm very likely being quite hard on her in fairness. One thing I have mention though is the very odd sentence structure and syntax scattered haphazardly throughout the novel. Missing words, incomplete and weirdly phased sentences don't make for happy readers. Its very distracting to read and never, ever fails to irk me! Dialogue was mostly fine and well-written although there were the occasional forays into ham-handed territory. But I digress. By far the best parts of A Hollow Crown was the historical setting and the unstable and dark atmosphere that pervades the entirety of the novel. Hollick clearly did her research on Anglo-Saxon England and it shows! This was a fantastic and enthralling rendering of Anglo-Saxon England with no historical anachronisms or modern day beliefs and morals. In A Hollow Crown you are thoroughly immersed in the violent, dangerous and utterly amoral world of early medieval England. Hollick carefully steeps her novel in medieval culture, language, religion and customs; the reader is truly introduced into the dark and brutal landscape that is warring Anglo-Saxon England and it is a fantastic experience. Kudos to Hollick for such a lively portrayal/ No onto characters. Lets start with Emma. Oh boy...She's starts off as a likable, sympathetic and kind individual, one who is more or less tossed to the sharks at the tender age of 13. Her unhappy marriage to Aethelred is heartbreaking to read although at times I wondered if Hollick had deliberately made Aethelred into a spiteful prick in order to increase sympathy for Emma...... Wow I'm cynical! However as the story goes on, any warm feelings towards Emma quickly evaporated and turned to dust. I could live with her capriciousness and self-importance-hey she's Queen of England what do you expect? What I found unnerving about Emma in extreme was her hypocrisy. It wasn't appealing. It concerns her children basically. She has three with Aethelred, Edward "the Confessor", Goda and Alfred and with Cnut, she has a daughter Gunnhild and a son Harthacnut. Emma despises Edward, is distant with Alfred and ignores Goda. She cannot bond with them because they remind of her hated marriage with their father. Ok, so I get that. Her marriage to Aethelred was so awful and miserable that her own children stir little and less motherly love within her. Understandable? Ha ha no!Emma loathes Edward as he is the ugliest, most unpleasant child she has ever seen. However, when her daughter Goda is born she is divine, perfect, a sweet angel! Emma adores her early on despite the fact that the circumstances of her birth are remarkably similar to Edwards. It boils down to Emma preferring one child to the other over appearance. AND NOTHING ELSE! Also her favoritism towards Goda dims when she decides not to care for her daughter so as not to grow attached to the girl. This cavalier decision is tossed aside with Gunnhild even she'll also be sent away for marriage eventually.....Inconsistency much?I also take issue with how Edward was portrayed as a sniveling, inept and stupid fool. He was pathetic! I feel that his characterisation was like this so that again Emma could be shown to better and more intelligent then everyone else. After all, if Emma doesn't like someone, that's because they're an awful, awful person and not because Emma's a crap judge of characters. So yeah, Emma basically ignores her children from her first marriage from the get-go and when her children by Cnut are born, suddenly motherhood seems appealing. Emma adores both Gunnhild and Harthacnut. With her daughter Gunnhild, Emma does not give her care to nurses and lavishes affection on her. With Harthacnut now........I personally find this hilarious! Emma worships Harthacnut and spoils him rotten and what happens? He turns into a sadistic, egotistical and hateful jerk! Ha! Talk about poetic justice! Back to Emma... She's a bitch. A bitch who can apparently rock climb free-handed with a wailing baby up a cliff wall. Now there were other characters in A Hollow Crown but they were mostly uninteresting and forgettable. Aethelred and Cnut had the chance to be intriguing characters but alas both went down the cliched, predictable path of bad first husband and wonderful second husband. Now Edmund "Ironside" he was interesting and sympathetic. I kinda wish the novel was more about him. Loads more characters I'm sure but trying to remember them would make my poor brain melt. Ok I think I've ranted enough about this. A good but not great book, I think A Hollow Crown is a flawed read that others may enjoy better then me.

  • Samantha
    2019-05-09 20:57

    The Forever Queen is the story of Emma of Normandy who became Queen Aelfgifu when she was married at age 13 to England's King Aethelred and was given as little choice about her public name as her husband. Her story encompasses England's Saxon history through Aethelred's reign, that of his son Edmund, Danish invader Cnut, and two of her own son's . . . oh, and there's a bastard usurper in there for a few years as well. Having not spend much time reading about this era (1002-1042), I found this book a good combination of entertaining and educational.Hollick does an excellent job of making the people and places of a millennia ago come alive and giving those people plausible motivations and personalities where history may have not left us much information to go on. I appreciate the fact that she seems to include as much as we do know and only use artistic license to fill in the gaps, and she admits where this occurs in her author's notes.Though Emma is a cold, vain, and ambitious woman, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her when all that she had worked for (more than once) seems to fall apart, mostly because she is a woman who has to work through a husband or son to govern England. She soon forgets her Norman roots and considers herself English and by far the best person to be running the place. If only she didn't need some incompetent male to stand behind! I could only be partially sympathetic when her neglected children end up disappointing her.This novel was a great way to learn about England's history before the Norman Conquest. (It is hinted at: "The boy is too base-born to rise higher." Well, maybe not.) Be prepared though. Hollick gives the most charming and likeable personalities to those who die before their time! We are not given much opportunity to mourn these people though. Due to the author's habit of ending a chapter with a sudden death and picking up the next chapter some time later, your eyes barely have a chance to well up before you realize the story has already moved on.Besides the fact that I found Emma somewhat unlikeable, though realistic, Hollick's habit of having short choppy chapters that make great leaps in time was my only other serious complaint. This seems to be more of an issue in the first half of the book. I'm not sure if it was due to the lack of information about the times, forcing her to work with what was available or some other reason that caused these stunted chapters that didn't always add much to the story. The time jumps between chapters sometimes left me wondering what had happened to what I was just reading about, but if I had to choose between accuracy or better flow, I am glad the author chose to not fill in gaps that could not be filled with anything known.I have had this book on my shelf for a while, but now that I have read it I am ready to carry on with it's sequel, "I am the Chosen King." Hollick has raised my interest in a period of history that I had previously ignored, and I am anxious to stay with her story.

  • Blodeuedd Finland
    2019-05-05 22:01

    Plot:Emma of Normany married King Aethelred when she was 13. One son would become Edward the Confessor. But the Swein Forkbeard of Denmark invaded together with his son Cnut, and all was lost. But Emma was one strong woman who after her husband's death married Cnut, and once again reigned as queen of England.My thoughts:I loved it, the story was so rich in history and details, and it was exactly like a good historical novel should be like. Following the facts, but still inventing and creating a book utterly wonderful.Emma was a truly fascinating woman. Mother to two kings, wife to two kings, stepmother to kings, because yes England saw a lot of kings during her time there. I was enchanted by the story. The first part was about her horrible marriage to Aetheldred, not fit to be king, seeing her distancing herself from her kids was heartbreaking. The second part was about her other marriage and I do hope that it was true that they had a loving marriage. That she finally found joy with Cnut. It was certainly more romantic.This book is filled with history, what else to expect, the book spans 40 years of her life. And I could even start to tell about all the things that happened. There are vikings raiding, there is fighting over the crowns, a lot of times. Treachery, jealousy, kings dying, fighting between English earls, you get the point. There is never a dull moment. Because something is always happening, and when nothing is happening it is just nice to relax and enjoy her life for a bit.Awww, I do love good historical fiction. It just warms me right up. So fun to google later too and discovering more.Recommendation and final thoughts:I am giving this book 4,25 because I could not put it down, even though this was one big book! I would with all my heart recommend it to lovers of historical fiction, and to the rest of you, this is a woman worth reading about. It had everything, but mostly it had her, and I do wonder why not more books are written about her. She certainly deserves a spotlight for her interesting life. The book itself was well written, and was never cluttered with facts or dull. It was a joy to read.Reason for reading:Long ago I read a book by a Swedish author and that was the first time I met Queen Emma, I never forgot her and I even wrote a paper about her in uni, so when I heard about this book I jumped at the chance to read about her again.

  • Christy English
    2019-04-29 17:24

    I actually read the US version called THE FOREVER QUEEN. I am now devoted to Emma...what a woman. Thank you Helen Hollick for introducing me to such an amazing person.

  • Annika Hipple
    2019-05-02 17:00

    I really wanted to love this book, because I adore good historical fiction and find this era of British history fascinating, though I don't know as much about it as the later Middle Ages. This book seemed like a great opportunity to learn more through the eyes of a strong, intriguing female character. Unfortunately, the reality of the book did not live up to the promise. The Forever Queen started out fairly strong, as the 13-year-old Emma of Normandy arrives in England to marry the much older King Aethelred (the Unready). Naturally, she is apprehensive and a bit intimidated by the challenges of marriage, queenship, and life in an unfamiliar country. It doesn't help that Aethelred turns out to be a terrible husband, as well as a terrible king. Yet Emma gradually finds her footing and becomes a capable, beloved queen. Emma of Normandy led a fascinating life - married to two kings (she married the Danish invader Cnut after Aethelred's death) and the mother of two more, she is in many ways the forerunner of one of my favorite historical characters, Eleanor of Aquitaine. However, although I started out sympathetic to Emma, I liked her less and less as the book went on. She seemed intent on keeping her crown at all costs, and treated her children from her first marriage with an appalling lack of feeling. Helen Hollick tried to make Emma an appealing character, and in some ways she succeeded, but she lacked depth, and overall I found I just didn't care that much about anyone in the book except the short-lived Edmund Ironside -- one of British history's great what ifs -- and perhaps Earl Godwine. I have no problems with long books -- my favorite books are all massive historical epics -- but this one dragged on. After about 250 pages (out of just over 600) I found myself losing interest. I kept going because I really did care about the history, but I was constantly counting how many pages I had left. The key thing that got on my nerves was the sloppy grammar. Hollick has a penchant for incomplete sentences, and she often leaves out the subject of a sentence. I have no problem with a good writer making the choice to use this technique every now and then for effect -- if it is done well. In Hollick's case, it simply adds confusion and makes for a choppy read. There were also numerous other grammatical errors scattered throughout the book that I might have overlooked if not for the already mentioned ubiquitous disregard for proper sentence structure. Hollick also displayed an excessive fondness for the interjection "huh." Throughout the book, characters were constantly saying "Huh" -- which really did nothing for the dialogue.Apart from the grammar, I think the biggest problem the book suffers from is pacing. The chapters are short, on average about three or four pages long, and the transitions between (and within) them are often abrupt. Sometimes months, even a year, go by between chapters, making the story feel rushed. I understand that the book covers several decades, and not every year is interesting and needs in-depth treatment, but the flow of the story just wasn't smooth, and the short chapters meant that it was often difficult to feel involved in the events and characters.I did eventually finish this book, although it took me a week and a half (a long time for me with a book like this). What kept me going was my curiosity about the history. I am slightly tempted to pick up the sequel, I Am the Chosen King, just to follow the story to its conclusion, but at the same time, given the writing style and the flow problems, I am unwilling to invest any money or a lot of time on it. I think I'll just get it from the library and spend an hour or so flipping through it to find the key events. Beyond that, I'll look elsewhere for historical fiction in the future.-----------------*Review written in November 2014. Updated later to fix a typo.*

  • Krista Baetiong Tungol
    2019-04-30 00:13

    This is my very first read about the Anglo-Saxons, having relished dozens of stories from the era of King Henry II and his Plantagenet brood for months. I admit I wasn’t ready to leave 12th century yet, but then I got intrigued with this book that has been in my e-shelf for some time now. The Forever Queen is the story of Emma, a Norman noblewoman, who became queen to two kings and mother to two more, and who lived in a place where peace was untenable and almost unheard of. The narrative covers forty years of her life, starting from her young marriage to King Æthelred at a tender age of thirteen, until her fifty-third year when she witnesses the sudden death of her most favored son. It doesn’t usually take me a week to finish a historical read, especially medieval-themed stories that I personally find of great interest, but this book took me ten long days to finish and I'm still suffering from migraine just thinking about it. I’ve already read quite a number of adult fiction and war novels to ever get squeamish now with the plethora of brutalities, cold murders and civil wars in this book, or even find grievous objection in its excessive character ramblings or wordy description about the temperamental English weather... It’s just that—I don’t know, maybe there is so much politics and perfidy and manslaughter in Queen Emma’s time that at one point I'd actually felt bone-tired reading about almost every character (even Queen Emma herself) having a vicious streak. Somehow, I had actually hoped to take a respite from all the gore of this period and just waited for something to deflect my attention from, perhaps some scorching intimacy that leave nothing to the imagination, but then I finally got to the end page and there was none! Hah, where were those bodice-ripping chapters when you needed them the most? (ha-ha)I must say that I couldn’t find a sympathetic bone to Queen Emma’s misfortunes; that despite her wisdom and resilience, she wasn’t spectacular a medieval heroine for me. It is one thing to give up family (particularly sons from a previous marriage) for the sake of a nation, and another to give them up out of personal gain. It seems she was so much invested in her crown that everything else mattered little to her. And King Cnut—maybe he should have just been given his own spot in an altogether different book, because I couldn’t see here—with more highlights of his tryst with his mistress than his accomplishments to retain the crown—what truly made him a great and effective king. And there was also King Æthelred. If he wasn’t brutally weak and irresponsible, I might have found a tinge of compassion in his person. But then, I suppose every reader should find at least one book character to cherish or love, right? Well, for me, it is the ill-fated dog, Saffron.I knew nothing about Anglo-Saxon history before this read, and I truly appreciated Helen Hollick’s mastery of the subject and for letting us imagine what life and customs had been like in this period. On the whole, I rate The Forever Queen four (4) stars, and will heartily read the next book in the series! :-)

  • Sheree
    2019-04-21 17:11

    Writers such as Helen Hollick really do breathe life into historical fiction, making it a joy for me to experience this previously little read era. With a lesser writer this could have been a disaster, but Helen Hollick takes a huge cast of characters and a complex, eventful period in history (1002 - 1042) and weaves an enthralling tale backed by meticulous research and insightful, convincing embellishment."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 ...". (author's note) I knew nothing of Emma prior to reading The Forever Queen. Daughter of Richard I of Normandy, married to King Aethelred of England at a tender age, re-married to Cnut, (pronounced K-noot) who became the Danish King of England after defeating Edmund Ironside (Aethelred's son) - phew ... complicated. Initially I was completely captivated by this strong young woman who endured a loveless marriage to a cruel, misogynistic husband & an ineffective King with dignity, who quickly grew to love England and become an astute & charismatic leader, who eventually found a mutual love and respect in her marriage to King Cnut. However, the forsaking of her children to foreign exile and subsequent actions, all stemming from a single-minded desire to retain her crown, somewhat lessened my admiration of this woman.The Forever Queen has it all, a rich and descriptive tapestry of Anglo Saxon history, warring factions, political intrigue and betrayal, brutal violence, and yes, love. I had trouble putting this book down and considering the hefty size, what a credit to Helen Hollick's masterful storytelling. I’d recommend this book without hesitation to historical fiction buffs and I eagerly await the release of the follow up, The Chosen King (Harold the King) in March 2011.

  • Marie Z. Johansen
    2019-04-22 18:19

    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 documents.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!

  • Gretchen
    2019-04-27 16:27

    Having previously read and thoroughly enjoyed, I Am the Chosen King, I was looking forward to reading more of Hollick's early England. I was not disappointed.Hollick's Emma is brilliant. She leaps off the pages. I cheered for her. I cried for her. I just about got down on bended knee and offered to be one of her maids or housecarls. I love when an author creates a character you love to hate. This book featured two. At the novel's opening there was the horrid Lady Godegifa (Known to the world as Lady Godiva). I was just sitting around waiting for Emma to gain her bearing and banish that woman to the Channel. Later in the novel, we are introduced to Aelfgifu who made Godegifa look like a kitten in comparison. What a mother won't do for her sons. The only problems I had with this book were the parts where Emma would go missing for pages at a time. Hollick's Edward and Alfred did not make for compelling reading. I found myself skipping over those pages just so I could get back to Emma's story. At least Edward's character is consistent from this novel to the next.

  • Lori
    2019-04-25 22:09

    Given that Hollick didn't have much historical information to go on... her interpretation of the limited resources was remarkably well done!!! In short this novel was FANTASTIC!!! Another of the many things I love about historical fiction is that nothing is certain... it very rarely wraps up with a neatly tied bow!!! Sometimes your favorite character dies... sometimes the villain succeeds!!! I highly, highly recommend & I can't wait to read I Am The Chosen King!!!

  • Janice
    2019-05-09 20:01

    I was done with this book long before the book was done. I persevered though it felt like it was taking forever. I may be gun shy about titles containing the word "forever" from now on.To be fair, I did enjoy the story and Helen Hollick's imaginings of what Emma of Normandy was like. There is little historical information on her life, and so conjecture is necessary.

  • Jo
    2019-05-08 17:20

    This is one of my first forays into Anglo-Saxon England. I found it fascinating and wonder if Emma truly did love Cnut.

  • Clarice
    2019-04-23 17:20

    After reading the sample of "The Forever Queen" I was delighted that it seemed to indeed be historic fiction and NOT historic romance. I was looking forward to reading this story about a strong Saxon Queen, because I've really enjoyed Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Chronicles and thought it would be interesting to see this period from a woman's perspective. After I purchased the book and continued reading, I found I was enjoying Hollick's writing so much I impulsively purchased her next book, "I Am the Chosen King".I started to grow very fond of this young girl who seemed to be slowly and steadily finding her footing in a strange country where she didn't even speak the language. She was growing a little more self-assured each day, and I felt like I was starting to get to know her character.Then, inexplicably, focus on Emma's character development started to diminish. And, as it turns out, I did not get the "women's perspective" that I had hoped for. After the first few introductory chapters, the point of view started being mostly from the perspectives of the male characters. Many interesting facts were provided when the POV switched from one character to another, and there was an occasional mention of what that character thought about Emma, but nothing that added much depth to who she was. She had apparently turned into a young woman who would remain mostly silent, "censuring her feelings" as her mother advised her, but, when pushed too far, she would blurt out a snappy retort that seemed more wise-ass teenager than wise Queen. Then, after having been routinely beaten and abused by her husband, she bragged to her new servant that she had gotten him under control by threatening to have him murdered as his mother had his brother murdered. My first thought was that, based on Ethelred's past behavior, that threat would have gotten EMMA murdered rather than making the King (who had substantially more power and significantly less conscience) submit to her.By Chapter 42, the story went on for several chapters without the presence of Emma or even mention of her at all. Again, much interesting historic information was provided in these chapters, and, although I found the strategies of Thorkell and Athelstan interesting, I kept wondering what was going on with Emma. When Emma finally reappears at Chapter 47, she is nagging King Ethelred trying to convince him to take action and "uncharacteristically stamping her foot." She didn't impress me as being a skillful negotiator, nor did she offer sage advice that he couldn't refuse to ignore. Ethelred finally agreed to do as she asked just to get her to stop nagging him. Not my idea of a "great woman".I continued for a few more chapters after that and realized I was no longer enjoying reading this novel, because what little it did reveal of Emma's character was not appealing, and I was finding that I didn't like her very much. Also, beginning at about Chapter 17, it was starting to be more and more about the events going on AROUND the queen rather than about the queen herself. I'm not saying that this was not interesting in itself, just not what I was in the mood for, and it was no longer the book I thought I was buying.

  • Allie
    2019-04-25 00:01

    (4.5 stars?) Oh Emma, what a interesting life you led?! This doorstopper of a books takes place from 1002-1042 primarily in Saxon England but some parts in Denmark and Normandy. No other Queen was wife to two Kings of England and mother to two more! Hollick tells a complex entertaining story of Emma's life.Married to Aethelred first, Emma is unhappy and I think this is the slowest moving part of the book and I will agree with other reviewers that is a little wordy at times in this section. However, the section of the book when she is married to Cnut is great and the story really picks up! I laughed and cried during that part and couldn't get enough of the story. Hollick included some thrilling scenes in this section (The cliff scene was intense!) The next two sections after Cnut were okay but like Emma, I missed Cnut!I cannot decide between 4 or 5 stars for this book. My only complaint is similar to other reviewers is some of the character development is a bit odd. Emma must have been a complex person to write though, so I cannot begin to try to think/explain her feelings or emotions during the time she was married to two different Kings and had sons with both of them! What a mess! Cnut goes from murderous viking to generous King really quick also, but I guess he did what he had to do? Also, a character list would have been nice!! So many characters had the same name! (Hollick even mentions this in her lovely Author's note) The length was not too bad for me, I like that there was short chapters!! Lots of places to stop and make you feel like you have made progress!I have enjoyed Hollick's smart and convincing writing style and look forward to reading Harold the King next. I also wonder what bits of the story were cut out of next publishing of the book!! I believe it comes out this fall with a new title?

  • Amy Bruno
    2019-05-20 00:02

    Helen Hollick brings the turbulent 11th century England to life like only she can!Emma is 13 when she leaves her homeland in Normandy to wed the much older King Aethelred of England. Like most royal marriages, their union is one bred solely for matters of state. She arrives in a strange country, bewildered and timid and her husband’s court filled with hostile people who don’t speak her language. Though outwardly she seems young and unsure, people soon learn that Emma knows her mind and is quick to speak it. Her marriage to Aethelred has proven just as disastrous as Aethelred’s reign and she can barely come to love him, let alone respect him. But she has come to love her adopted country and throughout her queenship England is under constant threat from the Vikings, led first by King Swein and then his son, Cnut. What I loved most about this novel was Emma herself. Excuse my French, but she was a bad ass! She had more courage and intelligence to rival most of the men at court and definitely bucketfuls more than Aethelred. Emma was a woman who faced danger head on, choosing to die with honor rather than hide like a coward. And her pride was fierce!The power of Helen Hollick’s novels is their way of sucking the reader in! There were several times while reading The Forever Queen where I gasped out loud or shook my head in disbelief or exasperation. You just get that wrapped up in the story. There’s nothing like a Hollick read to help you escape reality for a little while!The Forever Queen is yet another mah-velous novel from Helen Hollick and one that any fan of the genre will enjoy!

  • Jeffrey
    2019-04-26 00:01

    One of the most satisfying reads I've had in months. Go. Get. This. Book...if you like well-told historical fiction.. If you want at last to fall into the arms of a writer who knows how to lure you into a tale and create women who aren't victims again.And don't be put off by the period...yes, it isn't those head-chopping Tudors or the silk and satined Georgians but if you know little about early British history you come out of this book with a wider knowledge...and quite a take on Canute, the one who held the sea back. Emma starts out in a forced marriage with nothing but her wits and pride. We see her go through rape, murder, butchering armies...and play a game of double-cross to keep her throne through two marriages, exile and the sort of children who were spawned by the devil let alone a love match ( at least one of her marriages was happy, anyway.)Hollick is the kind of writer who knows her craft is to entertain us and many don't. Emma is not weak, not even nice sometimes, but is an engaging and captivating character that you root for.I only give 5 stars for novels of sheer genius - but don't underestimate this is a real 4 star read and for once, worth every cent/penny/euro.What a find!

  • Amber
    2019-05-12 16:00

    With over six hundred and fifty pages, this book chronicles the struggles of Queen Emma "Elgifu" of England. This story goes on for what seems like forever (now I understand the naming of the book FOREVER QUEEN!) and then on the last page you feel like the balls been dropped. It just ends...literally. When you read the brief note from the author following the last chapter you find out that this is a series not a novel! I so taken with interest I am willing to continue reading the next book "I Am the Chosen King". I usually don't buy kindle books that cost more than $6-$7 US but I hope the $9.99 will be worth it. This next one will be slightly shorter in length, a mere 592 pages. The English, Danish, French, and Norman languages and dialects can become confusing as well as the use of names. For example, there are multiple individuals who share the same name so you have to pay close attention to who and where these people are speaking to fully understand whats happening. This is definitely a refreshing change to my usual easy reading of YA books. This one actually made me use my brain!

  • Staci
    2019-05-14 16:20

    Why I wanted to read this book: * I am a huge fan of historical fiction and truly enjoy this genre. What really drew me to this story was that I had never heard of Queen Emma and I wanted to learn more about her life.What worked for me: * The descriptions! Wow..I felt like I was there in medieval England. Hollis has a magical way with her words which really brought the story to life for me. * Emma- She is an amazing woman and I'm truly astounded that more books have not been written about her. This woman was given in marriage when she was only thirteen years old. Could you imagine that??? Seriously! Her first husband was such a horrible man and she managed to live through his reign. She had to grow up overnight and learn to trust her instincts. I liked how she often reflected on advice from her mother and when she became a mother herself, understood why she experienced such a distant relationship with her own. For a queen it never was a good thing to become too attached to your children. * I enjoyed how the author broke the book up into smaller books with each husband/son's reign. Hollick really laid the groundwork so that the reader could get a very personal look into Emma's world and how she continued to keep the crown. * I became very attached to Emma and her friend Godwine. I couldn't imagine being in her shoes with all of the political intrigue, back stabbers, rumors whirling about you without at least one trusted friend. * I found myself romanticizing her marriage with Cnut and I sincerely hope that they did experience a love affair. So often I think of royalty marriages as being made for alliances only, with no consideration of love for either person. To think they may have been soul mates makes my heart feel good. What didn't work for me: * The first book which explores Emma's life being married to AEthelred was a bit tedious. There's so much information to get through, but trust me the book picks up in Part don't give up!! * The family tree in the front was very confusing!! I study these as if my life depends on it and it still takes forever for it all to sink in. Plus, their names are a pain in the tush because more than one person has the same name!!What you should do before reading this book: * I would recommend that you read some online biographies of Emma. I went online while I was reading this because I was having a hard time keeping everyone straight. This particular biography helped me quite a bit.Recommend? Absolutely, especially if you're a huge historical fiction fan. I love learning while I'm reading especially when it's entertaining, so I would not hesitate to tell others to read this. Yes, it is a chunkster, but so worth it. I didn't want it to end even after 622 pages and imagine my sheer delight when I discovered that Hollick is working on the next book in the Lost Kingdom 1066 series, Harold the King!!! Yay!!!

  • Heather
    2019-05-11 18:26

    The Forever Queen is the story of a powerful woman. Emma grows into this state of being because of all of the things that she has to deal with. As a young girl she is married to King Æthelred – a man who does not treat her well. She gains strength from this and uses it as a catalyst to continually push forward and never back. She is certainly a woman that should be celebrated for her accomplishments and it is certainly a shame that she has almost been forgotten by history.Typically I hate reading long books because by the time I get to the end, events that happened in the beginning feel like an entirely different book. Also, there is the fact that I feel like I am not making any progress because I am not on a new book. I did not have that feeling with The Forever Queen. I always wanted to keep reading and struggled to put the book down. I stayed up super late on the final night of this book because I was determined to finish it and not have to wait until morning to see how it wrapped up.There are SO many characters in this book that at times it is hard to keep them straight. Hollick remedies this by providing several useful pages that I referred back to time and again. There is a family tree for Cnut and Emma, a pronunciation guide (Thank You!) and maps of the world they lived in. I would have been totally lost without these references, as this is a time totally foreign to me. Hollick also does a great job of indicating dates and places of events throughout her writing and with the chapter titles. The world that these people lived in just came to life through her writing.The characters that Hollick has created are superb. Right from the start you can really get into what they are thinking and why they are doing what they do. You also can really see the evolution of character throughout the book – this is most evidenced by the growth of Emma. She also expertly molds your opinions of these characters – a telltale sign of a great author. I went from hating Cnut near the beginning, to finding him one of my favorite characters toward the end.I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I am eagerly looking forward to the follow up.4.5 out of 5 stars.This book was received for review from the publisher - I was not compensated for my opinions and the above is my honest review.

  • Robin
    2019-05-12 00:21

    Very detailed and descriptive, written with an authentic feeling style, it's an epic medieval saga about a lesser known queen (Emma of Normandy), caught up in the turmoil between England and Denmark. However, because it is written in third person, the story also follows many other characters so this is not solely a tale of one woman. At times, the title even felt misleading, particularly in the middle section when Emma does not even seem to be the main character. This is not a criticism, just an observation.As one might expect from a medieval time of conflict, there are many military tactics and battlefield details. I hope that men are not put off by the title and cover, which I think it was re-released as (having originally been called "A Hollow Crown") to appeal more to women even though it can easily be enjoyed by men too. As for accuracy, there is much unknown about this time period and about Emma herself. The author details fact from fiction at the end in an Author's note. It seems she stayed fairly true to the facts when they were known and used her knowledge reason of the time period to fill in the rest.Those unfamiliar with this time period (including myself) may need to brush up on some terminology and many of the character names are very similar (or exactly the same) so the reader has to be attentive. It's not a light read (any book which starts off with a pronunciation guide is probably not going to be) but well worth it. I don't normally go this far back in medieval history because it always seems so obscure to me - but I'm glad I did. I look forward to it's sequel, "I Am The Chosen King" coming out next year.

  • Jeanne Dunn
    2019-04-21 19:09

    Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, particularly anything set in England, Scotland, or Ireland, which meant this book had a really good chance of being a winner with me. (That, and I got it at a terrific bargain price for my Kindle!) Helen Hollick has obviously done her homework; it tells in the details. From the small bits of documentation that have survived since circa 1000 a.d., she has created a rich, accessible, realistic depiction of Queen Emma's world. I was a little chagrinned during the first several chapters, because Hollick would end one chapter with a traumatic or otherwise significant event, and the next chapter would open several years later without expanding on the fallout from those events. As I read on, however, I understood and became acclimated to the hopping forward in time, so I didn't find it as disappointing or distracting.Although I don't consider Hollick to be a brilliant writer, what she lacked in beautiful writing, she made up for in research and presentation, development of characters, and providing excellent education about the life and times of Emma. I was so wrapped up in that world that I immediately bought the next book in the series (I am the Chosen King), had it downloaded to my Kindle (at full price! I rarely purchase full price books for my Kindle at this point.) and was reading within minutes of finishing The Forever Queen. I'd recommend this book for those, like me, who really enjoy well-researched, historical fiction. It was a lovely read!

  • Rio (Lynne)
    2019-04-29 17:16

    I'm making up a new star 3.75. The research was 5 stars, the writing 3. There aren't many historical fiction books out there about this time period. Not only was Emma's story interesting, but this not as well known part of English history is fascinating. The author is correct in her notes that history has forgotten English Kings prior to William The Conqueror. This story starts with Emma being married to Aethelred aka The Ill advised King. She then goes onto marry Cnute, who will become king. This is not a spoiler alert, it is on the back cover. Then 2 of her Sons become King. Not to mention Stepsons. This book is filled with information. It is a must read for fans of English History. My issue with the writing was that it needed some editing. I also didn't like her style of starting a chapter and you not knowing who she was talking about until 3-6 paragraphs in. If you are looking for fluff or romance, this isn't it. The story is real and cruel at times. Some pages I couldn't put down others I could skim. I just received the follow up I Am the Chosen King, which I heard is a great read. I can't wait!

  • Lynn
    2019-05-11 21:00

    This book was a 4 1/2 stars for me. I enjoy reading about women that have some form of power during a time when women had very little rights. Hollick's writing was excellent, the names of the characters at times would get a bit confusing because they were so much alike but overall I didn't feel at a loss for what was happening within the story. I liked reading about Emma's story and her some times difficult struggle to retain her crown and her love of the people of England.

  • Malacima
    2019-05-01 23:00

    Priča o Emi od Normandije kraljici Engleske ( supruga dva kralja Ethelreda II. Nespremnog ( nesposobnog) i Knuta Velikog (danski i engleski kralj koji osim tim državama vladao još današnjom Švedskom, Norveškom, Pomeranijom, Schleswigom, Islandom i Grenlandom) i majka dva kralja Edvarda III. Ispovednika ( opisanog u knjizi I Am the Chosen King) i Hartaknuta (danski i engleski kralj).Ema je veoma je znacajna i uticajna licnost tog perioda ( prva rano srednjovekovna kraljica i jedna od najbogatijih zena u to doba) i autorka knjige se zaista potrudila da opise ovu zenu iz svih aspekata i sve dogadjaje koji su se dogodili za vreme njene vladavine i kasnije koji ce voditi do bitke kod Hastingsa opisani u drugom nastavku.Moja preporuka je da prvo procitate ovu knjigu pa onda drugu iako je ovde naznaceno kontra(Sled dogadjaja koji ce se desavati nekako prvo vodi od ove ka drugoj knjizi inace cete morati sa jednog perioda da se vracate unazad).

  • Sky
    2019-05-09 18:00

    This book literally took me almost 4.5 years to get through.

  • Susan
    2019-04-28 19:07

    I enjoyed this book but felt that the characters could have been a little more complex.

  • Geoff Boxell
    2019-05-07 19:01

    Others have given detailed reviews of this book, so I won't add more verbiage to the matter.Many found the book hard to read, myself I felt that it gave a good reflection of a period in which I am well read and believe the author has done a good job of telling Em of Normandy's story.