Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage - #review #giveaway

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.

When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.



When politicians first arrived on the scene, scandal was in their baggage.  It held true in 14th century England.  It holds true today.

King Edward II and his favorite courtier(s) killed a lot of their rivals for power, as well as imprisoned the wives and sons, and sent the daughters to nunneries, oh, and confiscated their lands and wealth.  They did this so much, and the other nobles got so fed up, that many of them sided with the Queen (Isabella), who wanted to oust her husband and put her son on the throne.

There was the little problem of the old king still being alive and in order for his son (also called Edward, eventually the third of that name) to rule, Papa would have to abdicate or die.  Either solution was fine with Queen Isabella.  The sooner, the better, because as her son was not an adult, a regency would be formed to rule in his name until Edward (III) came of age.  This would be the Queen, and her well-known-but-never-publicly acknowledged lover, Mortimer.  Said liaison ticked off...well, just about everybody:  the supporters of the old king, many of the supporters of the new king, the new king himself.

England's ever-present martial difficulties with Scotland flared during this time as well, and were settled, in part, by the espousal  and marriage of Edward III's 4 or 5 year old sister to the son of a Scottish nobleman.   Said son was only about 2-3 years older than the bride.  (And they say hillbillies marry young...sheesh!)

Ms. Belfrage's writing will  put you right there in the middle of things.  You will see the gorgeous clothing of the royals and the soaring heights of castle and cathedrals.  You will hear the ringing of bells, the clashing of swords and the haunting screams of men dying in battle.  You will smell the flowers and herbs scattered over the floors of castles in the banquet halls filled with varied delicious foods, in contrast to the other smells that drift in from the public areas of the towns where the peasants live.

There are a couple of scenes of sex between Adam and Kit (who are married), so if that is a deal-breaker, you should be aware - so you can skip over them and go on with the rest of the book!  Under the Approaching Dark is too good and too exciting a book to pass by it on the account of some *ahem* heated scenes!

I can very easily see this story on a big screen, but would worry that a 1.5-hr movie would not give the book a just treatment.  Hmmm...maybe a mini-series?

If you like historical fiction, you should read this book.  If you like the Middle Ages, you should read this book.  The best news I've heard all day is that this is the 3rd book in "The King's Greatest Enemy" series, and that the author has several series out.  I will be a happy reader for a long time!



Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.



To win a copy of Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form below.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Under the Appraoching Dark


Click on the banner above to go to the tour page, where you will find links to more reviews of Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage.  You can also find out how to become a blog host for future blog tours while you are there.

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (HFVBT for short!) in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Dear Luann, thank you SO much for a lovely review - and yes, the heated scenes can be glossed over (however much I love writing them)

  2. I do like my historical fiction but it is rare that I go this far back when I am reading it! It usually goes back to the 17th century for me, but that is way before it. I think it would be interesting to go out of my reading comfort zone a bit D: