When Christ And His Saints Slept

Sharon Penman

28 February 2013
928 pages


A.D. 1135. As church bells tolled for the death of England's King Henry I, his barons faced the unwelcome prospect of being ruled by a woman: Henry's beautiful daughter Maude, Countess of Anjou. But before Maude could claim her throne, her cousin Stephen seized it. In their long and bitter struggle, all of England bled and burned.

Sharon Kay Penman's magnificent fifth novel When Christ And His Saints Slept summons to life a spectacular medieval tragedy whose unfolding breaks the heart even as it prepares the way for splendors to come – the glorious age of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Plantagenets that would soon illumine the world.

[A] marvelous medieval pageant of a novel . . . Another jewel in [Penman's] already glittering crown
Penman once again tells a tale of kings and queens, singular destinies, and double-crosses. . . .[She] inventively animates a large cast [and] continues to base her narrative on the firm ground of fact
A compelling, well-written epic . . . Penman is an accomplished novelist and certainly has staked a claim to medieval England as her literary fiefdom