In The Shadow King, Jane Stevenson illuminates the world of the intriguing Balthasar Stuart, the secret biracial child born of the illicit love between a queen of Bohemia and an exiled African prince. A gifted young doctor in the late seventeenth century, Balthasar struggles with very contemporary issues of identity, brought into play by his difficult heritage. Driven outIn The Shadow King, Jane Stevenson illuminates the world of the intriguing Balthasar Stuart, the secret biracial child born of the illicit love between a queen of Bohemia and an exiled African prince. A gifted young doctor in the late seventeenth century, Balthasar struggles with very contemporary issues of identity, brought into play by his difficult heritage. Driven out of Holland by the plague, he makes his way first to the raffish, cynical world of Restoration London, where he encounters Aphra Behn, the English spy and sometimes playwright. He leaves to seek prosperity in colonial Barbados, a society marked by slavery and savage racism. Utterly absorbing and deeply perceptive, The Shadow King brings the past radiantly to life in people's habits of speech, their food and fashions, and their medical practices....
|Title||:||The Shadow King|
|Number of Pages||:||320 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Shadow King Reviews
Stevenson, a history professor at the University of Aberdeen, takes us into the late 17th-century and the very ordinary life of a doctor, a mulatto, who had sat his medical studies at Leiden, a reputable medical school. The even more interesting facts of this young doctor is that he is the son, in wedlock, of the Queen of Bohemia through her marriage to her physician, one Pelagius, an erstwhile King of Oyo in west Africa whose throne is usurped by his cousin and he is turned over to the slavers.Stevenson studies how a mulatto manages to live a good life of hard work and diligence in such a world with the Protestants in ascendancy but the religious atmosphere still that of Reformation and Catholicism frowned on but not necessarily curtailed as in the days of Reformation militarism. There is a sojourn to Barbados and a look at the white plantation owners getting even richer off sugar cane and practicing a brutal treatment of their slaves and the English lords of Ireland who came to fight for the king during the Interregnum who were sent to Barbados as Irish prisoners and treated even worse than the slaves. How does one mulatto doctor practice his trade in a country that is belligerently evil to Blacks? It is an interesting premise.There are times I felt the story too sketchy and, if I had not a solid understanding of this period in history, I would have been lost. Still, Stevenson has a strong grasp of the rhythms of the era and the narrative is evocative of the times. She kept me interested in what happens next.
You have to work a little at reading Jane Stevenson's historical fiction. She's an academic who teaches literature and history at a university in Britain. Her writing is erudite and her characters complex and learned. You certainly won't get anyone "bellowing like a longshoreman" like another book set in the same period I read recently (though it may have just been poorly translated). But I don't mean to make her sound pedantic. There is an emotional core to the stories she tells in these books (this is the second in a trilogy) that becomes more powerful and poignant by the book's end. What I like is how she stuffs you into the time and place of each novel; it feels often not just unfamiliar, but sometimes uncomfortable and even claustrophobic too, as you stretch yourself to see these people as they saw themselves, their world, and their place in it.
This is the sequel to The Winter Queen and is about Balthasar, the son of Elizabeth of Bohemia and Pelagius. It follows Balthasar's progress through young adulthood up to middle age as he attempts to find his place in the world of the late 17th century. Despite his noble blood and the mystical dreams his parents had for him, Balthasar ends up a successful doctor in London (after a brief sojourn in Barbados), contentedly living a very sober and respectable middle class lifestyle. Stevenson does a wonderful job of illuminating the realities of everyday life in Restoration England and in England's growing caribbean colonies.
This is another one of those books that could have been good: a man who could be king, a secret marriage, different worlds and cultures... the writing was not bad but it just didn't bring me into the story. I felt no compassion for the main character or any of the characters. The dialog was not that great but the overall story could have been really good.In the end it's about a man accepting his life and family vs. trying to reach for what could have been. It was a sequel, so maybe the first book was better (?)
The second in a trilogy. This one focused less on the cultural clash issues at the heart of the first volume, & more on issues of race & class (& to a lesser extent the third element in that holy trinity of contemporary academic life, gender). It was also focused on the main character's efforts to reconcile the scientific practice of medicine he learns at Leiden, the leading medical school of the 17th century, & what he remembers learning from his father about African medicine.
The sequel to The Winter Queen tells the story of the son of an African prince, formerly enslaved, who marries a European Queen in the 1600s. One of the asides is the protagonist's is the encounter with real life writer Aphra Behn whom I knew little of except for her book Oroonoko written in 1688. When you finish this novel, reach for the final in the serious, The Empress of Last Days which takes you into modern times.
Interesting but unsatisfying. The main character's past is never explained, and it's difficult to get too involved with any of the characters.A little research revealed that this is the second book in a trilogy, and the first book explains the past.
I hate this book. It's boring and pointless. Maybe it wouldn't be so painful if I had read the first one. The story just doesn't go anywhere. Not going to bother finishing.