The Sixth Surrender

Written by Hana Samek Norton
Review by Andrea Connell

Young Sister Eustace (née Juliana de Charnais), learned but naïve, longs to experience the world outside the convent – the world of the high-born and their political machinations and marital politics – and Alienor of Aquitaine is about to grant her wish. Accepting a marriage that returns to her the viscounty of Tillieres, she is betrothed to the enigmatic, shadowy, and disreputable Guerin de Lasalle.

Taking place in 13th-century France, The Sixth Surrender is set against the backdrop of Alienor of Aquitaine’s battle to secure the crowns of England and Normandy for her last surviving son, John Plantagenet. Alienor is portrayed as a strong-willed woman who fights endless battles to secure her holdings for an irresponsible son whose flawed decision-making threatens to doom all she has fought for. The devious Lusignan family, aggrieved by John’s theft of Count Hugh’s betrothed, plays a prominent role, and much of the dramatic tension is focused around their conflict with the Plantagenets.

Rich in medieval detail and bursting with heart-thumping suspense scenes, this debut novel is a surprisingly seductive mystery-romance with a cleverly designed plot. My issue with this book is that, as clever and unpredictable as the plot was, it was also at times disjointed and could have benefited from some expanded explanation. Overall, however, The Sixth Surrender will be an entertaining read for those who enjoy their adventure and drama with a medieval flair.