Discussion Guide: Agnes by Judy Ferro , Galena Summit Press, 2012
How does Agnes regard the Princesses? Do you like them? (Do they appear different than they did in Desiderata? Why?)
How would you describe Agnes’s relationship with her mother at the beginning of the book? When she sees her after returning from Italy? When Agnes marries?
Both Imma and Head Cook were healers as well as cooks. In what ways are the two roles linked? Why would some cooks be healers and others not?
What role did religion play in the decision to fight the Avars? What other motives were in play? Which do you think were most important to Karolus?
Some are surprised that Agnes dares to speak to Karolus about the conversation she overhears among the Bavarians. Why would she dare? Is it surprising that Karolus listens? Would a governor or prime minister of today react similarly?
The incident of the mysterious deaths of the warhorses is historical. What causes do Karolus and his men suspect? Can you think of other possibilities? Would some of these explain why the Avar culture disappeared in a matter of decades?
Some cultures with the Avar name are not believed to be related to the original peoples. Why would peoples want to call themselves Avars?
In what ways are Agnes’s difficulties in imagining her future similar to young women’s today? In what ways are they different?
Why does Deter like Einhard? Why does Agnes dislike him? Do you agree with Pepin-Peter’s judgment of him?
Agnes suffers greatly when she doesn’t get to go with Garulf. Was Gottfred right to restrain her? Do you think it was for the best?
How does Agnes feel about Karolus as the book begins? When the campaign against the Avars ends? When she agrees to marry?
Why does Agnes agree to marry Einhard? Would you have done so?
Karolus suffers major setbacks in this book: the deaths of the horses, the failure of the canal, and the spreading famine. How do you think this would affect his ability to govern? How does the union of church and state affect the seriousness of his problems?
How would you describe the relationship between Karolus and Alcuin? Between Karolus and Angelbert? Do you think they were important to Karolus’s success in uniting much of Europe?
Did Desiderata or Agnes have a better life? Which role would you have preferred?
For 800 years monarchs tried without success to unite Europe as Charlemagne did. What were the problems? How had Charlemagne managed to extend his power over great distances when travel was on foot or horseback?
Do any of the story’s characters remind you of people you know? Do any resemble leaders, governments, or royal families of the 21st century?
During this period women and servants usually weren’t schooled. Why was Charlemagne’s court different? Why did students then always read and write in Latin rather than their own languages? How would such a custom change our lives today?