Although I had read a number of great reviews, I had put off reading this book simply because I have never been really enamored of the middle ages. This era in history was linked in my mind to a time of horrible personal hygiene, plague, ignorance and superstition, and women locked in towers while their men spent all their time making war and hacking each other to pieces with swords.
After reading Elizabeth Chadwick's THE GREATEST KNIGHT, I learned, through the story of William Marshall, more of the complex political machinations of this era (12th century)and the House of Plantagenet beginning with Henry II and his ongoing wars with his wife and sons.
This was very helpful background to have in opening THE QUEEN'S,as I already knew a good bit about the historical characters with the exception of Princess Alais. I found Ms. English's writing style very readable. The story flowed smoothly as it moved throughout the early years of the French Princess' life as a protoge of Eleanor of Aquitaine. As I have stated before, I normally find first person narrative too narrow for my taste. This was not a problem with this novel, as the POV alternated very easily between Eleanor and Alais. It was well done and held my interest. Although both characters behaved with ulterior motives that made them unlikelable at times, they were written sympathetically.
I enjoyed THE QUEEN'S PAWN much more than expected, although I should add it did little to banish my preconceptions of the middle ages, since both Eleanor and Alais both spent good portions of their lives locked away, while the men were of making war and hacking each other up with swords!
I should add that I do look forward the this author's upcoming release (TO BE QUEEN) about the early days of Eleanor- a fascinating woman indeed!