Friday 8 February 2019

A KING UNDER SIEGE by Mercedes Rochelle

A Discovered Diamond
Shortlisted for Book of the Month

"I am thoroughly looking forward to the next instalment"

Biographical Fiction
14th Century

Richard II has been rather overlooked as a monarch – most people only really know that he quelled the Peasants' Revolt when he was about fourteen, that he was usurped by Henry Bolinbroke and that  he (probably) starved to death ignominiously in Pontefract Castle.

In the first of this new trilogy, Mercedes Rochelle looks at the early part of his life starting with Wat Tyler's insurgence. Thanks to the author's research and writing, gone are the visions of this child bravely riding out, speaking to Tyler and everyone goes home happy! The violence (nothing too graphic) is brought home to the reader with so many impromptu executions and general destruction in London.

But more than this comes from the author's pen. Although the event dominates the bulk of this book, there is so much more. One really feels sorry for Richard: he is young, dominated by his uncles and is haunted by his inability to match his illustrious forbears. In other words, he is no warrior and he knows it. Added to that is that the country is broke due to failed campaigns against the French and the taxes on the poor  - hence the riots. Richard is frustrated; the lords simply will not listen to him and they attempt to separate him from the few people he can trust – most notably Robert de Vere, after he was raised to be Duke of Ireland. The one happy thing in his life is his marriage to Anne of Bohemia.

I have to highlight the fact that my copy had a few errors, but I must also add that this copy was a pre-publication ARC version and that I believe that some, if not all, of those errors have been addressed.

However, these in no way detract from the overall delight I had in reading this story and I am thoroughly looking forward to the next instalment.

© Richard Tearle

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