Title: The Rebel Princess
Author: Judith Koll Healey
Release Date: June 20, 2009
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
Paris, October 1207. There is nothing that Princess Alaïs of France wants more than to settle down with her lover, William of Caen, and to reveal to his ward, Francis, that she is his mother.
But intrigue is afoot in the palace: two monks have arrived from Rome on a mission to compel her brother, Philippe, the king, to help them battle a dangerous breakaway Christian sect in the south known as the Cathars. At the same time, Alaïs’s aunt, the dowager countess Constance of Toulouse, is causing trouble in court, and Etienne Chastellain, the king’s chief official, appears to be up to something more sinister than usual.
From the opulent halls of Paris to austere monasteries in the south of France, The Rebel Princess combines history and suspense in an unforgettable tale involving one of the most enigmatic and intriguing female figures in medieval history.
I thoroughly enjoyed Judith Koll Healey’s The Canterbury Papers [review], so of course I was anxious to read the sequel, The Rebel Princess. I am really starting to get into historical fiction mysteries; when well-written, they are completely gripping and also allow the reader to learn something about history.
The Rebel Princess takes place seven years after the events in The Canterbury Papers. While the mystery within its pages requires no foreknowledge and can stand on its own, I still feel that it is necessary to read these two books in order. Alais’ personal story gets little treatment in The Rebel Princess; therefore, to appreciate her character development and to understand the situation between her, William, and Francis, it’s necessary to know what happened in the first book.
I enjoyed re-visiting Alais because I really loved her character in the first book. She didn’t disappoint me in this one; Alais was just as strong as ever. I love how Healey made Alais such a put-together woman who is involved in the politics of her brother’s kingdom. She is a role model for women of the time; however, she’s also vulnerable. She’s such a complicated, well-written character – I enjoyed spending time with her in order solving the mystery in the novel! I have to say, though, I enjoyed the mystery portion of The Canterbury Papers more than that of The Rebel Princess, though both are well done.
The history in The Rebel Princess was very well done. Healey provides rich details about Southern France. I didn’t know much about the Cathars prior to reading this novel, but Healey has piqued my curiosity. She really involves the reader in the history of the time period. Additionally, there is a very useful note in the back of the book which details the history of the time, and what the author took liberties with. She includes some further reading, in case the reader wants to learn more about the Cathars.
The Rebel Princess was a great novel that was easy to read and enjoyable. I’m so glad that Healey left the end of this novel wide open – I would love a sequel in order to see what happens to Alais next!