The Princeling is the third book in Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’s Morland Dynasty series, which traces British history through the eyes of one fictional family, the Morlands. In this book, various Morlands serve in the courts of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, travel with Sir Francis Drake, and join up with a traveling theatre troupe. The focus of the story, however, is on the Morland family itself, as issues of inheritance and of religion bring conflict to the family.
Nanette, one of the central characters in The Dark Rose, continues to play a significant role in the family, but most of the story is devoted to the lives of the children of Nanette’s cousin Paul, the current head of the Morland family. The fact that this next generation of Morlands is so large, with each of the family members traveling a different path, sometimes gives the book a scattered feeling, but each storyline is interesting, and I’m not sure I could have done without any of them.
One of the things I enjoyed about this book, as with the previous books, was how it gives a sense of what the time was like for people who were not themselves in the seats of power. It’s fair to say that the Morlands are not a typical family of the time, given their wealth and their closeness to royalty, but they are not making the decisions regarding succession to the throne, the religion of the land, and any military or exploratory campaigns. They do, however, have to deal with the consequences. And I’m eager to see how they deal with future challenges as I continue to read this series.