Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Serve, A Novel of The Black Prince by Rosanne E. Lortz

I had no idea, when I was offered this book for review of what was in store for me. After reading the blurb, I knew I couldn't resist it for a couple of reasons: it was a medieval, my favourite period, and one of the main characters was the Black Prince, about whom I've had a long lasting curiosity. It really was inevitable that I should start reading this book as soon as it arrived.

The story opens with Sir John Potenhale on a quest to find a woman, the widow of a man he fought in battle, with which he shared adventures and long conversations. At her request, he starts telling his story and how his life crossed with her dead husband.

Potenhale was a young squire following the English army during the Hundred Year war. His actions bring him to the attention of the Prince of Wales, the Black Prince, and he becomes part of his household. As they follow the path of war Potenhale grows in experience and in wisdom both in the battlefield and out of it.

Through the Prince's interest in the Fair Maid of Kent, Potenhale becomes acquainted with Margery, one of her ladies. While the interest seems mutual the young lady previous marriage to Lord Thomas Holland puts a hold in both the Prince's and Potenhale's aspirations.

For the next years, they will fight for England in French soil; they will learn strategy, when to make alliances and when to punish traitors. They will attend happy tourneys and they will face the merciless Black Death. In one of the battles Potenhale makes a prisoner of the French leader, Geoffroi de Charni. He returns to England with them until his ransom is paid and it is immediately obvious that he is the man whose widow he is telling the story to.

What could have been a dry read becomes a tale of an age of honour and chivalry, of being steadfast in the face of adversity and of pondering matters of life and death, when faced with your perceived destiny.

Charny, who wrote a book on the Art of Chivalry is a very interesting character and, in the end, become the one I was most fascinated with. It is a gift from the author that she writes her tale so well that when he was telling Potenhale and the Prince the story of the Templars I felt I was right beside them listening.

With Potenhale we witness one man's growth, a life's journey, gaining physical and intellectual maturity and through him we can see the fourteenth century way of life and way of thinking. This is a story about following a code of honour, the code of chivalry, about being virtuous, being true to God and to their Lady. Rosanne E. Lortz wrote an intelligent and engaging tale based in real characters and events that made this reading journey one of the most exhilarating of this year. Historical fiction doesn't get much better than this.

Grade: 5/5


Come back March 23rd for Rosanne E. Lortz guest post on why she loves the fourteenth century.


  1. I loved "The First Princess of Wales" so this is something I'd really like to read!

  2. I've seen this book a couple of times and wondered about it - thanks for the review. Sounds like I might give it a try sometime.

  3. I hadn't heard of this book before. It does sound good. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. On to my TBR it goes.

  4. Great review, Ana! I really have to read this book.:)

  5. Hi all,
    I really hope you like it as much as I did.

    I also read The First Princess of Wales and the approach here is a bit different, less romantic if you will, but very interesting.

  6. Oh this sounds interesting! I read Harper's version of the Black Prince's story in "The First Princess of Wales" and I would love to read some more!

    Thanks for the review!

  7. Ana, thanks for the exciting review! This does sound fun, and as I'm currently fascinated by the later years of the Hundred Years War, I'm glad to have reason to be engaged in an earlier part.

  8. I'd never heard of this, thanks for reviewing it.

  9. Love love love this book! For someone who isnt well versed on Mid evil history I found it most informative. I was very impressed at how seamlessly the plot flowed through the complex history and drama. The characters were engaging and I found myself whipping through it and coming out more interested in this time period then ever before. Huzzah Miss Lortz!

  10. I have always be intrigued by the Black Prince. I don't know if it's the mysterious nickname or what, but I know I'm going to have to get this book and read it!

    Great review!