The blurb on the back of Deryn Lake's book reads as thus: "... a meaty dish of lust and medieval intrigue..."
The main focus of this book centers around the women who played a pivotal role in the life of King Charles VII of France. The setting is in the latter part of the period in history known today as the Hundred Years' War - a war of succession involving both English and French claimants to the French throne following the deaths of King Philip IV and his sons.
The book is in four parts, focusing on Charles' life and those women who helped shape him. Part I focuses on Charles' mother, the grotesque Isabaeu of Bavaria, Queen of France, and his future mother-in-law, the intelligent Yolande d'Aragon, Queen of Sicily and Duchess d'Anjou.
Part II deals with Charles' relationship with his first "important" lover, one Madame de Giac (Bonne), and Charles' wife, Marie d'Anjou, Yolande's daughter. Part III deals specifically with Jehanne Darc (La Pucelle - Joan of Arc) whilst Part IV deals with Charles' last great love, Agnes Sorel.
Okay - this is not a straight re-telling of Charles' life - but more of a narrative focusing on the interaction of these women and Charles; how they influenced him; and how they shaped the man he was to become.
I found, however, Part II to be rather labourious - is is the longest; and Part III dealing with Jehanne (or Joan) was rather brief, as was Part IV (Agnes).
There is a twist in this book, and one you will have to follow quite closely from start to finish - an interesting twist - this will give pause for further thought.
A background into the Hundred Years' War isn't necessary - but it does help where characters are concerned. An enjoyable read nonetheless.