Review by professional editor, Joyce Magee, Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Elizabeth Vallone’s Barbarossa’s Princess, a superbly researched historical novel, will transport readers to the milieu of the late Middle Ages and the intrigue of the court of the Holy Roman Empire. It begins in the middle of the drama, in the year 1194, as Sicilian Queen Constance, consort of Emperor Heinrich, is about to give birth publicly to an heir to the throne. Townspeople who will witness the birth are exceedingly curious to see whether a monstrous anti-Christ will emerge from the queen’s body, as predicted by a famous clairvoyant. From this scene of frenzied expectation, the narrative fills in the previous ten years via flashback, featuring scenes of love, cruelty, deception, violence, secrets and much more.
The third-person omniscient point of view alternates with first-person narration by Queen Constance, a technique that vividly illuminates the action while endearing the reader to the female protagonist’s inner self. At every step, Constance clearly articulates the thoughts and feelings of a woman who is manipulated and repressed by the politics of her era and, especially, the men who exert power over her.
Ms. Vallone provides authentic multi-sensory details that will transport readers to the 12th Century. Many elements, such as beauty and fertility treatments, obstetrical medicine, food, customs and other details about daily life of the time are factual. So are many of the characters, who truly come alive under the pen of Ms. Vallone.