Matilda Empress

Written by Lise Arin
Review by Kendall Turchyn

Life is anything but easy for Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England. As a child she was married to Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, and now as a young woman in her twenties, she is forced to marry again, this time Geoffrey of Anjou, whom she considers a nobody. Meanwhile Matilda’s heart belongs to the dashing auburn-haired Stephen, Count of Boulogne, but Stephen is already married, and Matilda’s father will not permit the match. From the moment she meets the cold and commanding Geoffrey, she realizes just how ill-fitting they are, two unhappy people who are both in love with other people.

When Matilda’s father, Henry dies without an heir, her former lover, Stephen, seizes the English throne. After Stephen proclaims himself King of England, the greatest betrayal in itself, those who have sworn fealty to her seem to flock to Stephen. What was once love is now poisoned with a bitter hatred.

Matilda Empress is a rich romp through 12th-century Europe, replete with political intrigue, dynastic drama, and compelling characters. In the heroine we have a strong-willed and pious woman who will let nothing stand in the way of her desire to reclaim her homeland. While a force to be reckoned with, Matilda is not unaffected by the pangs of love, especially that of her lover who betrayed her and this is where we see her at her most vulnerable. The writing is superb and the descriptions so apt that I felt that I was in the novel alongside the empress. It is a gripping story from start to finish. If you enjoy a strong female lead, then this is the book for you!