Cover Image: The Widow Queen

The Widow Queen

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor/Forge Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

This book was interesting but also dense - there was a lot going on! It wasn't as captivating as I had hoped (though still interesting) but I am thinking some of that may be due to the translation (I would give it a little less than 4 stars, rounded up).  I also felt that from the book synopsis that it was going to be solely about Swietoslawa and, while most of it did in fact revolve around her, there were many other points of views and players and sides that were part of it that I wasn't expecting.  It was wonderful to read about a period of time and place that I had no idea about. 

PS I hope the full published version has a pronunciation guide because I am sure I am pronouncing almost every name incorrectly!
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The Widow Queen fascinated me with its promise to shed light on a previously forgotten queen. Women who exert power, who use their wiles and cunning, but who are never remembered. And with Cherezińska's dedication I was even more in love. In many ways, this project seems like a love letter to all the women forgotten by history, who history chooses to forget. For women who are used as marriage alliances, only seen for their potential heir providing services, and not given a say. They have to fight for whatever power, influence, and security they want.
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This book is I believe my first 5 star of the year ! It could have easily gotten muddled and complicated with the political landscape and the characters but it was so well written. The author did an amazing job at sucking me into the history and the time period. I am all for a fearless badass woman MC and this book delivers. I devoured this book and am left sitting here impatiently waiting for book two. I need more!
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This is a story that I really wanted to like. It takes place in a historical time and place that I am unfamiliar with, which may have contributed to my overall feelings of confusion, especially at the beginning. Many characters were introduced quickly, and I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. Again, had I been more familiar with the history, this likely wouldn't have been such an issue. 

The story itself, although interesting, is a little slow moving. The writing, although beautiful at times, focuses on so many small details that it can be difficult to continue. 

Overall this is a story that I may revisit in the future, when I have a little more grasp on some of the finer historical details. For those who are familiar with them, this is a wonderful, although slow moving, story. I will be recommending this to some of my Polish relatives, as I believe they will thoroughly enjoy it.
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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 forge 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. 
Eric Segersall-Sweden
Swen Forkbeard-Denmark
Olaf Tryggvason-Norway
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I've never been a fan of multiple perspectives in a story, as all the switching between character viewpoints makes it difficult to keep track of the storyline and to have an objective view of the action. Perhaps my biggest problem was the characters: there were too many of them to keep track of (especially since I'm not used to the names) and none of them were particularly interesting. I really wanted to like this, as I loved the description of a Polish queen who wanted to rule in her own right rather than marry and have her husband get all the power. Unfortunately, I found the characters boring and the plot a little slow. Maybe something got lost in translation?
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This was a beautifully written story, full of rich information. It came across as more of a nonfiction written in narrative than historical fiction. I felt the story was a bit slow to develop and the title seemed a bit misleading. The story covered much, much more than The Widow Queen’s story, with loads of background information. I did enjoy this book, although I don’t know if I would pick up the sequel. I would still suggest this to anyone who enjoys history and nonfiction, but perhaps not to the regular historical fiction crowd.
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I received a copy of the book from Netgalley to review. Thank you for the opportunity.
A mysterious and mystical story that puts one in mind of a old folk tale. The writing is good and really evokes the Poland of yesteryear. 
A good read.
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Well developed characters.  An epic saga over land and sea.  A historical fiction of how daughters and sisters were used as pawns to join kingdoms’ and how such a ‘bold one’ adapts to her less than ideal circumstances and leverages all of her cunning to protect her children and her people.
Looking forward to the sequel.
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I approached this book because of my Polish roots. I expected so much from it. So much more! I believe the plot and idea was well presented, but perhaps the translation of this book damaged the reading here? 
I did not finish the book, not because I did not like it, but because I will read it in original language written - Polish. 
Then I can truly reward this book with 5 stars!
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This book is about the Polish Piast Dynasty. I'd highly recommend this to those who like their historical fiction full of political intrigue and plotting. Duke Mieszko wants to expand the borders and is ruthless about it, even when it comes to his own family. His plotting feels like a gave of chess. The setting felt accurate and it is clear the author did their research. The characters felt like they fit the time period instead of feeling too modern. The multiple points of view the story is from gave each character time to shine and develop their motivations.

Off the top of my head I can't think of another historical I've read that takes place in Poland, and that alone made this one stand out for me. This is great for those who are interested in Poland's history or want to know more. However, all the historical info loaded into this book did make for a slow read at times and felt denser than it needed to be. This is very much a story where you need to connect to the characters from the start to get into the book.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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Great to see a diverse historical fiction! The Polish roots drew me to this title. While the story was interesting, the writing was difficult to get through. Multiple POV were difficult to follow and the pacing was a bit slow. It's not a fast or easy read.  Appears to be well researched and info laden. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to review this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I made a promise to myself to not only read books by more diverse authors, but also to read other genres besides my go-to mysteries/thrillers, horror, and science fiction. The Widow Queen is the story of Swietoslawa, a Polish queen, and this historical fiction definitely took me out of my comfort reading zone. At a little over 500 pages, this wasn't a book that I raced through, but rather one that I took my time with, especially since I initially had trouble with the vast quantity of characters.
So I put this down and approached this differently. I would read just one or two chapters before bed. That way, I made sure that I understood what was happening, and in the beginning, I probably read the same few chapters more than once. As soon as everything started to make sense to me, I started to appreciate the book and how little I knew about the Polish Piast dynasty. There was a lot of drama and intrigue, and I don't want to give anything away, but the ending implies that there must be at least another book.
It is a complicated story, but one I think would appeal to historical fiction fans. I am happy I gave this book a chance. 3.5 stars.
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I think this book got lost in translation. I feel like there could have been something great here but the characters were lifeless and impossible to care about.
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The Widow Queen opens up into a world I new little about before Elzbieta Cherezinska. A Queen trying to live in  a King’s world, only without the king. The Widow Queen was such a powerful and beautifully dramatic character that made me want to learn more about her and her royal history.
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Unfortunately, I couldn't get into this book. I usually love historical fiction, especially books set this far in the past. However, I just didn't feel like I connected with any of these characters, and because of that I wasn't very interested in the plotline.
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The Widow Queen is  series working so you get a main glimpse of time span of different point of views.
It starts with the house Piast of Poland and as The head of the household wants to expand his influence by using his family Duke Miesko. He makes influenceable marriages which puts his daughter as a Queen. Her name is Swietoslawa. She is smart, clever, a schemer, die hard christian. ( Well that specific time period) The perspective of Christianity changes geographically as influence spreads out. To Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Britain, etc. so do political problems and Schemes.

The idea of the best of what you can do by being a royal women is to marry to better influence. She becomes Queen of Sweden. Her brother Boleslaw makes multiple marriages that are influenced also. 

It did leave me wanting more, that is what a series is for. Got a bit confusing when it came to switching P.O.V
I was hooked when it came to Swietoslawa and Boselaw alot. I can't wait to see what develops

This Arc was given to me by netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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I really struggled with this one. It’s choppy and confusing with all the characters and very few of them really stand out. You can absolutely tell it’s been well researched but I found myself bored and just slogging through.
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This book was incredibly dense and way too long for what "happens' in the story. The plot is pretty slow paced and I found myself easily bored and distracted while reading. I think if this had been a concise, singular story, it would have felt more worthwhile, but knowing that this ends in a cliffhanger for a 2nd book made this less appealing to me.
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The Widow Queen: The Bold by Elzbieta Cherezinska
Source: NetGalley 
Rating: 3/5 stars

**MINI REVIEW**

The Bottom Line:  If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know my intense love of historical fiction; it is a love affair that has rarely faded.  The Widow Queen is wrapped in history, but even my love of the genre couldn’t get me above a three-star rating.  This is an incredibly dense read and while the translation into English is a welcome benefit, it doesn’t help much with the names. 😊  I dug into this read, determined to hang on to the bitter end only to discover it ends on a cliffhanger; 500+ pages and there is no ending in sight.  In truth, had this book wrapped up and finished up, I would have been much happier and willing to raise my star rating, but knowing it will take me another 500 pages or more to get to the end of this saga is an absolute hard pass for me.  With all that said, for those who love these kinds of books/sagas/series, etc. – the long and extremely detailed kinds of historical fiction – this will be the perfect solution for your next big read.
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