Banners of Gold
1. After Bonel’s abduction of Alix, the traveling party stops at Malbysse Manor. Why? What is the significance of their strange meeting with Sir Richard Malbysse, Sir William de Fauconbridge, Sir Robert de Cuckney, and Hugh, Bishop of Durham? Why do these men later intercept Bonel’s party and provide Alix the opportunity to escape? 2. What binds Alix and Bonel in friendship early in the story? How does their relationship evolve throughout the novel? What role does Judaism play in Alix’s adventure? What conflict does Bonel face in his loyalty to Alix and his vow to save the Jewish people? 3. There is a vast discrepancy between Alix’s self-perception and the way she is perceived by others. Her ethereal beauty has an impact on everyone she meets, yet she has a childlike lack of physical self-consciousness, little understanding of her own power, and a wry awareness of her own emotional instability–“I was a roiling cod, a hot liver, fantastick cells gone tinty.” How do these unusual traits affect your reading of Alix as a heroine? Does she betray her own sensibilities when she falls in love with Richard? Do you like her more or less by the end of the book? 4. After Vaudreuil castle is destroyed, Alix escapes to Rouen and is forced to live in hiding as a refugee. Why do you think she chooses this hardship over succumbing to Richard’s wishes, when her contract guarantees total comfort and opulence for two years if she simply obeys him? 5. What specific event in Edmundsbury opens Alix’s eyes to the plight of the Jews? What effect does it have on her later? 6. During Alix’s first attempted escape from Bonel, she is attacked by an enormous golden eagle. Do you think the eagle is a symbol? If so, what does it indicate? Where else in the novel does Kaufman use symbolism to illuminate Alix’s predicament? 7. What do you make of Alix’s period of religious fanaticism while at Fontevrault, and her strange relationship with Sister Hilaria? Why does she make the leap from sassy, pragmatic landowner, to meek pupil and ecstatic visionary so willingly? What does Sister Hilaria represent for Alix? 8. After Alix refuses Pudlicott’s marriage proposal, Tib gives Alix a reality check by enumerating the choices in life for a woman of this time period. What are they? 9. Banners of Gold chronicles both Alix’s sexual awakening and her loss of innocence about sex. What conflicting lessons about sex does Alix get from Queen Eleanor, Sister Hilaria, Sister Damiana, Tib, King Richard, Berengaria, Prince John, the Queen’s retinue of ladies, and the clergy, particularly Walter of Coutances? 10. At what point does Alix begin to soften toward Richard? Why does she forgive him his cruelty? What enables her to get over her distaste for his sexual history? What event seals their impending affair? 11. Richard is dangerously jealous of anything in Alix’s life that is not related to him. She tells us, “My life at Wanthwaite was comical preamble to my true existence with him.” Why is she able to love this man who is so temperamental, suspicious, possessive, and unreasonable? Do you think she is experiencing the seduction of wealth and comfort, or is she too innocent for that? Is it just blind love? 12. Throughout her journey, Alix is constantly torn between her passion for autonomy and her fear of loneliness. Where in the story do you see these aspects of her at war? Is her skill at connecting with people, even in adverse situations, beneficial or damaging to her cause? Formerly known as the “wildflower of the north,” Alix describes herself as a “hostage of love” by the end; does Richard’s death free her? 13. How do you explain Richard’s benevolence toward his murderer? His deathbed confession to Alix? Has her love truly redeemed him, as he claims? Has he evolved into a compassionate, loving mate at last, or is he orchestrating his death to contain as much drama as his life did? 14. What does Eleanor teach Alix about the Church’s war on women and the most effective means for fighting back? What various facades and illusions does Eleanor employ to maintain power as Queen?
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - dianaleez - LibraryThing
Banners of Gold is the sequel to Pamela Kaufman's Shield of Three Lions. The story of young Alix of Wanthwaite and King Richard the Lion-Hearted continues. King Richard needs an heir, and Alix, who ... Read full review