A Pride of Kings is the first in a series of six books featuring the Plantagenet kings and queens. As the back of this book says, this is ”a series of historical novels which tell the story of the Plantagenet monarchs through the eyes of the men and women who served them, loved them, or betrayed them, and in so doing, helped shape the events of English history.”
This book focuses on the story of William Marshal, the man who served Henry II and his sons, in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The novel is a short one, but it follows William Marshal from 1168 up nearly until his death, jumping a lot in time (for example, one minute William’s marrying Isabel; the next minute their daughter—and third child—is being born). Comparisons will inevitably be drawn between this book and Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Greatest Knight; and by extension, Sharon Kay Penman’s novels on Henry II and his family. Chadwick’s book is much more meatier than A Pride of Kings, but this novel is enjoyable nonetheless (and it’s less rose-colored and awe-struck in its treatment of William Marshal than The Greatest Knight).
It’s less the story of William Marshal, and it focuses more on the Plantagenet family, for all their flaws. A Pride of Kings sometimes skimps on the details, but it’s a pretty straightforward novelization of the lives of the Plantagenets, as seen through the eyes of one who served them. It’s a pleasant book, and Dymoke's style is very readable (apart from the misspellings), but fans of Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Kay Penman may be disappointed.