Very, very slow paced and doesn’t pick up (2.5 stars)
By looking at the other reviews, I can see that I am clearly in the minority here – I do not get those glowing ratings. The Lute Player is told in several parts, with each part being told in the first person POV of one of the main characters, Blondel the Lute Player, Anna a fictional half sister of Berengaria and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard’s mother.
The story begins as Blondel finds his way to the Court of Navarre and home to Berengaria and Anna. Berengaria is in love with Richard (who is engaged to the King of France’s sister), the hunchbacked Anna is in love with Blondel and Blondel is in love with Berengaria. Richard’s engagement is eventually broken and desperate for more funds to finance his crusade, he agrees to marry Berengaria. The rest of the book details known history, the wedding on the way to the crusade, the third crusade itself and Richard’s alleged preference for young boys, his being taken hostage on the way home from the crusade and his non-existent relationship with his wife.
I love reading medieval fiction and learning of the history of the times, but frankly I found this whole book to be quite boring and by the time it got to the crusade half way through I found myself skimming quite a bit, and the final third covering the last days of Richard and Berengaria were just one big snooze fest, at least for this reader. It could just be me; I’ve never been that fond of Richard I and Berengaria I found to be bordering on the TSTL category, almost, but not quite. I guess if you’re a die hard fan of this ruler and want to learn more about him it might be worth your while, but I would recommend getting this one from the library first (as I did) and then buy it if you like it. 2.5 stars rounded up to three.