When Christ and His Saints Slept (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine #1) by Sharon Kay Penman

In this novel, Sharon Kay Penman brings to life a dark period in English history, painting a canvas rich in the textures and colors of the era. Here is the pain and suffering of the innocents, the conniving and duplicity of the barons; here is the terrible reality of lawlessness - the burning towns, ravaged countryside, weary people. But above all, here are two extraordinary adversaries: A woman whose courage outran her common sense, who found that her skirts bound her more tightly than any rope. And a man of inordinate charm, as valiant in battle as he was able in friendship - but a man whose life was based on a broken oath and a treacherous lie, tragic flaws that would destroy him. Beginning as friends, they ended in the bitterest enmity, their bloodiest wounds self-inflicted. And if Stephen lost the crown, Maude would never wear it. But in a final irony for both, Maude would indeed be the mother of kings, for it was her eldest, Henry, who would establish the Plantagenet dynasty and, with Eleanor of Aquitaine, electrify the medieval world.

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