The Widow Queen
translator- Maya Zakrzewska-Pim
Publication date: April 6, 2021 by Tor/Forge Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The bold one, they call her—too bold for most.
To her father, the great duke of Poland, Swietoslawa and her two sisters represent three chances for an alliance. Three marriages on which to build his empire.
But Swietoslawa refuses to be simply a pawn in her father’s schemes; she seeks a throne of her own, with no husband by her side.
The gods may grant her wish, but crowns sit heavy, and power is a sword that cuts both ways.
The title and blurb about this book are a bit misleading as the focus is not truly on the queen but on the men vying for power. However this book was a fascinating read. In essence, the book provides the early history of four countries: Poland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The Polish Duke Mieszko uses all of the assets available to him to strengthen and expand his country’s boundaries and his influence on others. He marries a former nun and converts his country to Christianity. His three daughters Astrid, Gerta, and Swietoslawa are married off to solidify new alliances. The favorite since birth, Swietoslawa forges her own destiny within the confines of the choices that are made for her. Swietoslawa, the Bold One, was filled with intellect, passion, and shrewdness. Her marriages made her the mother of two dynasties.
For those readers who are not familiar with the history that this book explores, the beginning chapters may seem overwhelming. There are a LOT of characters introduced early on and it sometimes isn’t clear who is from where and how everything is connected. There are constant struggles for political power and religious supremacy. The author made sure to balance the harshness of war with the joys of love. The three daughters exemplify the different strengths woman had and how they were key figures in political maneuvering. It is a dense read but an enjoyable one.
I’ve included the following information to assist readers in the early chapters.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this title.