The Queen’s Man by Sharon Kay Penman

The Queens Man

Rating: 2.5 Stars

“Do you think the king is dead?”


Justin de Quincy is a bishop’s bastard. When he finds out that the man he supposed to be his benefactor is in reality his father, he storms off. Unsure of what to do with himself, he heads towards London. But just outside of Winchester he witnesses a murder. Too late to save the man, he instead takes on a dangerous task: to deliver a mysterious letter to the English Queen, Eleanor of Aquitane. Before he knows it, he finds himself in the Queen’s service, tasked with solving the murder.


The Queen’s Man isn’t a bad book. It reads fine. It’s just… a bit bland.

I was intrigued by the setting. The book is set during the time Richard Lionheart was held captive by the Austrians and his brother John was ruling England in his stead. There’s no love lost between the brothers and the English throne makes for an intriguing reason to let Richard stay lost.

Add to that the character of Eleanor of Aquitaine, an incredibly interesting historical figure (way more interesting than her squabbling sons, if you ask me) and a murder mystery and I was sold.

There were some interesting characters in the book. I liked the under-sheriff, Luke de Marston and I liked one-eyed Jonas. I liked Nell, single mother, pub owner and not afraid to voice her opinion.

I was disappointed in Eleanor. She’s not an unlikeable character but she should have been so much more. Absolutely wasted potential, if you ask me.

Now in her seventy-first year, she was acclaimed and admired for her sagacity and shrewd counsel, reigning over England in her son’s absence, fiercely protective of his interests, proud matriarch of a great dynasty. A living legend.

Justin remained kind of bland for me. He was just such a generic good guy. There was nothing special about him. And I hated how the book uses every opportunity to remind us what a great guy he is, giving to beggars (at least three different scenes in this book), saving puppies and damsels in distress.

Justin fumbled for his money pouch, leaned over, and dropped a farthing into the alms bowl, ashamed that he could spare so little. The leper had learned, though, to be thankful for the most meagre offering, even courtesy, and wished Justin ‘Godspeed.’

What annoyed me was the ease with which Justin could investigate the murder. It didn’t matter who he asked, everyone just answered his questions without the least bit of resistance, evasion or curiosity as to why he would ask them.

She ought not to open her door to strangers like this, or to take what she was told on faith. He managed to rein in this newborn protective urge, at least long enough to ask her a few casually calculated questions about Gervase, questions she answered readily.

There were also a lot of scenes that didn’t flow with the plot and felt like they were deliberately inserted. And lo and behold, the people we meet in these scenes become important later.

“Well, this is one task you’ll not have to bother with.” Justin said, but his mind was no longer on the monk. Jesu, how could he have forgotten about the leper?

It just didn’t feel natural.


Overall a perfectly fine historical mystery but there’s nothing much memorable about the characters and it’s a bit bland.


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