In this sequel to The Sixth Surrender, young novice Juliana de Charnais finds herself wed to Guerin de Lasalle, the powerful Lord of Partheny and heir to the Lusignan family. When Guerin is called off to Cyprus to help his family defend the Lusignan crown, Juliana is left to care for their daughter, Eleanor, alone – but not for long, as Eleanor is taken away by Juliana’s father-in-law, sending Juliana on a quest to regain her daughter, her husband, and her marriage. In Cyprus, Juliana and Guerin are caught in plots and subterfuge both deadly and devious that it will take all their cunning, loyalty, and love to overcome.
Hana Samek Norton begins weaving a web of deceit from the start, and it is an unrelenting journey through the power struggles and deception that enveloped Cyprus in the 13th century. She draws on a number of historical characters, including many from the Lusignan and d’Ibelin families. The Serpent’s Crown focuses on the rise of Hugh I, the intrigues that surrounded his court, and the power plays that led to his rule. It is clear that Norton did her research, basing her story on actual events, but that does not stand in the way of her wonderful writing and storytelling, which bring 13th-century Cyprus to life. The only issue I had was keeping straight the forty-plus characters, many using multiple names. However, there is a “who’s who,” which I referenced often. An intriguing story and a good read.
Review originally appeared in HNR May 2016: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-serpents-crown/