The Constant Queen is the second in Joanna Courtney's series which examines historical events leading up to the Norman conquest of 1066. This follows The Chosen Queen which I reviewed last year. You can read that review here. The Constant Queen does not follow directly from the previous book in the trilogy because each book tells the story of a different Queen, so they each feature different characters and though the historical events have an impact on each Queen in the series there is no interaction between them. Therefore they can be read in any order. The Constant Queen is Elizaveta who was born into royalty as a Princess of the Rus, growing up with her many brothers and sisters at Kiev.
This is the story of a fierce and lifelong romance between Elizaveta and Harald of Norway who comes to be known as Harald Hardrada. Exiled from his own land Harald at first fought for Elizaveta's father and then went on to seek riches and glory in Constantinople before escaping imprisonment to return to Kiev and claim her hand. Travelling victoriously to Norway Harald is able to regain the throne but Elizaveta must contend with Harald's first love and handfasted wife Tora.
This book is different in many ways from Joanna Courtney's previous novel because there is a greater emphasis on the detail of Elizaveta's domestic life and her frustration at being kept in the dark about events and being kept waiting. Because of this I felt the pace of the book sagged a little in the middle, However once Tora and Elizaveta come to a tacit truce the pace picks up again particularly as Harald prepares to invade England.
Harald is often called the last of the great Vikings and there is certainly a great deal of detail about Viking life; both domestic and military and overall the book makes for a fascinating read.
If you are a fan of Carol McGrath or Tracey Warr then you will enjoy this book.
Thanks so much Jess Duffy at Pan Macmillan for a copy of the book. The Constant Queen is out now in paperback.