Mary Lancaster, in her new novel called A Prince to be Feared, takes an enduring, extravagant, and usually feared historical figure in Vlad (III) Dracula, Prince of Wallachia, and showcases to the reader a warrior and lover that doesn’t have blood running from his mouth, but the blood of a man of strength running through his veins.
We might, as readers, automatically assume that this would be the proverbial Dracula novel, with all the alarming and horrified traits of vampires. But Lancaster begins her novel-writing of Vlad when he is just finishing up his twelve years time in an Hungarian prison. He is offered the King of Hungary’s cousin, Ilona, who is widowed and feeling old, and we find out that they once had some sort of romantic connection when they were young. However, she does not want a husband; she doesn’t want Vlad, even though in her heart she is drawn to him. She’s reserved, and he must work for her affection, but she can’t mistake the feelings she has for this man of passion, vigor, and courage.
In this novel we seem to learn a lot about the background of Vlad the Impaler and the politics and culture of the mid-1400s in this region. It was all very interesting to me as I had never taken the time to read his true historical account even though his legacy interests me. The warfare of this time period was entirely brutal, and recounts of Vlad’s torture tactics and impaling sequences have always been sensationalized. When Bram Stoker’s character of Dracula appeared on the writing scene,Vlad seemingly became even more over the top to make for phenomenal horror writing. I actually enjoyed reading the true historical accounts and reading about him functioning as a human with true feelings such as love, desire, kindness, gentleness–as well as passion, strength and fortitude for his cause (his home).
I really enjoyed the historical thought put into this book and felt that Lancaster had well-developed characters in Vlad and Ilona particularly. Lancaster represented Vlad’s character, and his romance with Ilona, in superb taste and with original vision. I am so glad she asked the “what if” questions about Vlad and presented him to the reader in this way, disposing the decades of myths and allowing readers to connect to him.
If novels of ancient civilizations, warriors, legends, and cultures interest you, I highly recommend this book to you, but only if you also love some romance. Because at the heart of this historical read is the romance between Vlad and Ilona.
It was an interesting, but also entertaining read. It’s plot is simple and it didn’t take much time at all to breeze through, at least not after learning how to pronounce all the various names!
A PRINCE TO BE FEARED, Synopsis~
Europe’s most fearsome prisoner, Vlad Dracula, gifted military commander and one time Prince of Wallachia, the notorious Lord Impaler himself, is about to be released after twelve long years, in order to hold back the tide of Ottoman aggression. The price of his new alliance with his Hungarian captors is the king’s cousin Ilona.
Ilona does not wish to be married. In particular, she doesn’t wish to marry Vlad. Gentle, faded and impossibly vague, Ilona is hardly fit for court life, let alone for dealing with so difficult a husband.
But Ilona’s wishes have nothing to do with Vlad’s reputation and everything to do with a lifelong love affair that finally broke her. Ilona’s family blame Vlad; Vlad vows to discover the truth and sets out by unconventional means to bring back the woman who once enchanted him. Among court intrigues, international manoeuvrings and political deceptions, Vlad reveals himself more victim than villain. But he’s still more than capable of reclaiming his lost rights to both Wallachia and Ilona; and Ilona, when it counts, has enough strength for them both.
Author Mary Lancaster, Biography~
As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University, after which she worked variously as editorial assistant, researcher and librarian. Although she has always written stories for her own entertainment, she began to make serious efforts toward publication in order to distract herself from a job she disliked. She now writes full-time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband and three children.
Mary is the author of three historical novels: An Endless Exile – the story of Hereward, 11th century outlaw hero, A World to Win – a Scottish governess finds love in revolutionary Hungary and A Prince to be Feared: the love story of Vlad Dracula.
See more reviews and guest posts on the tour here: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/aprincetobefearedvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #PrinceToBeFearedTour