In Margaret Ball's Duchess of Aquitaine, one can try on the robes of a queen. Eleanor, daughter of the wealthy and powerful Duke of Aquitaine, is only 15 when her father dies and she inherits his valuable estates. Most women would be ill-equipped for such a challenge, but Eleanor has been an avid student of her father's teachings, and she cleverly hatches a plan to outwit her enemies by marrying King Louis himself thus begins the adventures of one of the most fascinating women in history. Ball has written a number of fantasy novels, including collaborations with Anne McCaffrey, and here she steps masterfully into the world of historical fiction. The pleasure in this version of an oft-repeated tale lies in Ball's skillful weaving of history and threads of magic, and in her exquisite detail work, both in character and setting, that brings the medieval world to full-throated life.

Barbara Samuel writes novels from her native Colorado. Her latest book is Madame Mirabou's School of Love.

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