Goodreads Monday: The Forever Queen

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme where we randomly select a book from our Goodreads To Be Read list and share it with the world. It’s hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners, so be sure to link back to her site so that we can all see what everyone plans to read!


The Forever Queen
by Helen Hollick
Historical Fiction
635 pages
Published in December 2010, by Sourcebooks Landmark

From Goodreads:

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom- and her crown- are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.


I’m a big fan of The British History Podcast, and right now, Jamie has been discussing the reign of the failed king Æthelred and how he lost his crown to Swein Forkbeard. Though Emma of Normany does not come up very much in the story, her marriage to Æthelred, according to Jamie, leads directly to the Norman Conquest in 1066. The longer I listen to the BHP, the more interested I get in England’s history prior to 1066. I went looking for historical fiction set before the twelfth century and only found a few offerings– one of which was The Forever Queen.

6 thoughts on “Goodreads Monday: The Forever Queen

  1. This sounds really good! I know I’ve come across the cover several times and felt really drawn to the image. I’ll be interested to hear what you think once you read it!

  2. I love historical fiction, but I find it increasingly difficult to feel inspired to pick up a book over 450 pages. That said, I’m still intrigued. I don’t think I’ve read *any* historical fiction from the 12th century! I hope you have a chance to read this soon and share what you think. I’m super curious.

  3. It’s difficult to find historical fiction set in England that doesn’t involve the Tudors or the Wars of the Roses. Bernard Cornwell has his Saxon Chronicles, which begins during the reign of Alfred the Great (late 9th century), but I wasn’t thrilled by the first book. I think I’ll ask for The Forever Queen for Christmas and dive into in January, assuming I get it.

  4. I like Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles. This is set during and after the Romans leave England. It’s more-or-less fictionalized history as Whyte brings in true historic events to tell the story of King Arthur and Merlin. But that’s all I can think of with historical fiction in England without the Tutors or War of the Roses! XD People might want to expand a bit there.

  5. I tried to read Whyte’s books when I was in my Arthurian craze while watching BBC’s Merlin. I wasn’t a fan of it at the time, as I recall it made a warrior of Merlin, and I prefer my versions of Merlin to be less warrior and more mystic. Mary Stewart’s Merlin books were just what I wanted, and were fairly historically accurate. Or as accurate as you can be with Arthurian lore.

    I read Conn Iggulden’s ‘The Abbot’s Tale’ right after it came out in 2018. It begins in the 930s or so, during the reign of AEthelstan, but I wasn’t very impressed by it. It’s a shame that authors don’t branch out beyond the main events for the most part, as stories set pre-1066 could be fascinating, and because every little thing isn’t documented, it would be a rich field for the imagination.

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