Book Review: The Lioness Wakes by Blanche d’Alpuget

Add The Lioness Wakes to your Goodreads TBR:

Book 4 in The Birth of the Plantagenets

Published in Australia on March 1st 2020 by Ventura Press.

Australian RRP: $29.99

Format: Paperback

Purchase Links:



Angus & Robertson:

Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Count: 235

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Ventura Press:

The fourth book in the compelling Birth of the Plantagenets series follows the battle for dominance between Church and Crown.

England, 1171. Thomas Becket is dead, beheaded at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral. As news of his assassination spreads across the country and into Europe, Henry’s reputation as a just and mighty king begins to disintegrate.

Eleanor, no longer loyal, nor in awe of her husband, instigates the revolt she has craved for years—with Henry’s three eldest sons as her allies against their father. Yearning to dethrone him and to gain power and liberty for herself, she beings to stir trouble at court.

But when Henry discovers the plot, will Eleanor be strong enough to withstand his outrage? The punishment for treason is death. And what of the empire they have built together—can it survive when the royal family are at each other’s throats?

The fourth book in the illustrious Birth of the Plantagenets series delves into the feud between the spouses Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, painting the portrait of an empire steeped in conflict, treachery, and wild gambling for power.

My Review:

I received a copy of The Lioness Wakes from Ventura Press in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

The Lioness Wakes is the fourth installment in Blanche d’Alpuget’s historical saga about the rise of the Plantagenet family, with feuding married couple Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine at the helm of this story. I must admit, I hadn’t actually read any of the previous instalments of this series, however I feel like it didn’t affect my understanding of anything that was going on throughout the story, nor did it make me confused about any of the characters or their actions throughout the book!

The Lioness Wakes does not delay from starting off with a huge bang! It begins with a death of huge significance, one that definitely sets the foundation for the rest of the book and it was definitely intriguing throughout reading about all of the impact and feelings that everyone was dealing with and how conflicted some people were after what had occured! Especially where Henry and Eleanor are concerned, with people starring to doubt both the King and Queen in lieu of what’s been happening and who may have been behind the execution, who can trust who? Who is safe?

I thoroughly enjoyed Blanche d’Alpuget’s depiction of 1171 England, where treachery and betrayal, deception and deceit were aplenty! d’Alpuget’s portrayal of Royal Court life was completely entertaining and engaging too, I found myself getting utterly swept up in all the betrayal and not knowing who best to trust (perhaps no one!) but at the same time I thought her take on Eleanor of Aquitaine was utterly brilliant! I’ve read few books dedicated to her account of things, even in a fictionalised aspect but I was all for this completely strong woman, a literal lion in the sense that she’d protect her children’s safety above anything else but also fight for what is hers too.

Whilst I utterly enjoyed d’Alpuget’s characters and her portrayal of this era of history, I did just find that the pacing was a little tiresome at times. Whilst I was often intrigued and excited to see what would be coming next and who would play the next manipulative move (as it’s everyone for themselves at Court, truly!), I often found various characters that weren’t Henry or Eleanor to be slightly tiresome and starting to sound the same! I mean, they’re pretty much having to utilise their children against each parent, which I felt was obviously a cruel move at times, but I just found each child to be written of a similar pattern and felt like they didn’t particularly stand out. However, not going to lie to say that I was slightly satisfied by Eleanor and one of her sons planning to take down Henry! I mean, I’d still definitely read the next installment just because that ending was a shock!

For anyone who loves a great, entertaining historical fiction novel or a completely sweeping entertaining read, I definitely recommend picking up this book! I’m definitely looking forward to reading the previous instalments in this series!

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn 🙂

About the Author (from Ventura Press):

Blanche d’Alpuget is an acclaimed novelist, biographer and essayist. She has won numerous literary awards, including the inaugural Australasian Prize for Commonwealth Literature in 1987. Her books include Mediator: A Biography of Sir Ricahard Kirby (1977); Monkeys in the Dark (1980), which won the PEN Jubilee Award; Turtle Beach (1981), which won The Age Novel of the Year Award and the South Australian Premier’s Award; Robert J. Hawke: A Biography (1982), which won the New South Wales Premier’s Award; Winter in Jerusalem (1986); and White Eye (1993). She has twice won the Braille Book of the Year award, and Turtle Beach was made into a feature film in 1992 featuring Greta Scacchi and Jack Thompson. All her novels have been translated into other languages.

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