Review: The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes

by Margaret Cambell Barnes

Publication Date:  October 1, 2010
Sourcebooks Landmark

SYNOPSIS:  In this compelling novel of love, loyalty, and lost chances, Margaret Campbell Barnes gives readers a new perspective on Richard the Lionheart's triumphs and tragedies. Drawing on folklore, Barnes explores what might have happened if King Richard's foster brother were none other than Robin Hood, a legendary figure more vibrant than most in authentic history. Thick as thieves as Richard builds a kingdom and marshals a crusade, the two clash when Robin Hood so provokes the king's white hot temper that Richard banishes him. The Passionate Brood is a tale of a man driven to win back the Holy Land, beset by the guilt of casting out his childhood friend, and shouldering the burden of being the lionhearted leader of the Plantagenets.

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REVIEW: 2010 has seen a plethora of novels on Eleanor of Aquitaine and her progeny and in the newly re-issued novel by Margaret Campbell Barnes, The Passionate Brood (originally published under the name Like Us, They Lived in 1944) we follow the life of Richard the Lionheart and the man we know as Robin Hood.

Amidst the myriad of theories as to who Robin Hood actually was is one that he was an acquaintance of King Richard I’s. Barnes takes this approach and writes her book from the perspective of Richard having a foster brother, the son of his beloved childhood nurse, with whom he grew up with and was very close to. Robin was the one person Richard could trust to always be honest with him, who was the voice of reason and of the people in Richard’s ear. But before the king leaves on crusade he and Robin have a falling out and in his Angevin rage he declares Robin an outlaw, a man with no property and a price on his head.

As his time as king, Richard spent more time on foreign soil than in England and in The Passionate Brood we follow him as he makes his way to the Holy Land, stopping along the way to marry Berengaria of Navarre “the English Queen who never saw England” in Cyprus.

His victories during the Third Crusade are numerous and though part of his legacy is that of a gallant knight, he was also known to be ruthless, proved by his executing 3000 Saracens in Acre. People in England weren’t too thrilled with him either what with the all the taxing to pay for his crusading and his absenteeism. In Barnes’ version Richard seems to be a pretty decent guy that maybe had his priorities wrong, but I definitely need to read more about Richard I to get a more rounded view of the man to form my own opinion and am really looking forward to Sharon Kay Penman’s future release, Lionheart.

All in all this was an enjoyable novel, even if sometimes a bit slow, but Barnes’ writing style is smooth which makes for a quick read.

Favorite quote: “Why, when a pack of wolves used to howl round my old cottage it was peaceful compared with a family party of Plantagenets!”

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book from the publisher for review.



  1. I liked this one a bit more than you did I think! I loved the over the top portrayal of Richard in particular! It was definitely better than the last book I read from this author anyway!

    Looking forward to reading the next one.

  2. Another good one on the same period which I like. Thanks for the review.

  3. I have an older edition of this one but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I"ve read several of her other books and liked them so I"m looking forward to reading this one. Love the quotation!!

  4. Great review -- sounds very interesting! :)

  5. Oh those plantagenets, I am not sure if I like any of them

  6. I thought it was a bit slow in some places too, but I did enjoy the book. This is just a subject that has been written about so often it's difficult to find something new...

  7. I too enjoyed this portrayal of Richard and learned more about this period. I loved meeting his wife and sister. Great review.

  8. I really like Margaret Cambell Barnes, even though I have read jus one book by her. I am glad this is also good, I don't mind slow if it is good :)

    Thank you for the great review.

  9. You say Eleanor of Acquitaine and I am automatically intrigued :) Loved the review :)

  10. I have to use your wolf quote about the Plantagenets to put in a word for the Trollope novel I just finished reading, Phineas Redux. Lady Glencora and Plantagenet Palliser are way out of the time period I write about, but to me they're one of the most interesting marriages in literature, a case where opposites attract but actually stay together.

  11. I read this one a few weeks back and, unfortunately, was quite bored by it. I generally enjoy Margaret Campbell Barnes' work, and the subject matter of this novel appealed to me (love the Plantagenets and the Robin Hood legend), but I just couldn't get into the novel. Oh well, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for it.

  12. I wanted this one so bad. Sounds really good but must go back further before I can do this one. Dannnnng, good review girl.

  13. Ooops forgot to tell you I am now officially on your Royal Cribs one too.

  14. Thank you for the review.

    I loved the quote -
    “Why, when a pack of wolves used to howl round my old cottage it was peaceful compared with a family party of Plantagenets!”

  15. What I liked most about this novel are the characters that are so cool to read about.


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