Cordelia Lionheart

Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds (2018)
ISBN 9780997882940
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (02/19)

“Cordelia Lionheart” is a wonderful alternative history by Ron Fritsch. Cordelia is the youngest of King Lear’s three teenaged daughters. Mature for her years, she supports the rights of the commoners, which angers the greedy nobility. Her boyfriend Garred, is the son of her father’s childhood friend, who is also a noble. This noble also has an illegitimate, depraved son name Mundred. Mundred’s father makes the poor choice of naming him as heir, instead of the legitimate son Garred and this becomes a fatal decision.  Once named as heir by her father, Cordelia loses his favor when she starts speaking up about his rulings that ignore bad behavior by nobility, especially the murderous acts of Mundred. Knowing that she and Garred are in danger, they both start living and toiling alongside the farmers, earning them favor with everyone except the nobility. As this drama unfolds, Cordelia takes actions that completely loses her to her father and sisters, but ultimately saves the kingdom for the good of the common people.

Ron Fritsch wrote “Cordelia Lionheart,” as an alternative history version of Shakespeare’s tale. The main similarities are that King Lear has three daughters and his favorite, youngest daughter is disinherited by him. After that, the story takes off in somewhat of a different direction. I enjoyed this alternative version much better than the original, but then again, I am reading it for enjoyment, not a high school assignment. Fritsch does an excellent job of creating a realistic medieval setting with characters that reflect how historically, people tended to behave. Cordelia was perhaps a bit too modern for the times, but I suspect it took real women with her character to be remembered in history.

Having read and enjoyed other novels by Fritsch, I am greatly impressed with his ability to switch genres. Since neither history nor alternative history ever ends, I would love to see a follow up novel to this one. Cordelia’s courageous character is one that will stay in my mind for a long time! Fans of alternate histories will enjoy “Cordelia Lionheart” by Ron Fritsch.