"The various personalities, both fictional and historical were well fleshed out and imbued with their own individual characteristics."
Wars of the Roses fifteenth century
1437 and gentle King Henry VI is now old enough to manage the English throne. But he is seen as a weak king with poor health and frailty of mind. Henry and his new young wife, Margaret of Anjou, must, therefore, rely on spymasters Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to help him run the kingdom.
We meet those who harbour their own ambitions, in particular Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York, who stirs anger against the Duke of Suffolk for his part in the deal that saw English Lands forfeit to the French Crown.
While storm clouds brew over England, men like Thomas the Archer and his son, Rowan, are removed from their French lands and Jack Cade, a man who wants revenge for the death of his son, leads a rebellion into the heart of England’s stronghold in London.
The story opens with a prologue of the death of Edward III, from whom the rival contenders for the English throne, York and Lancaster, are descended, providing a foreshadowing of the fight that is to come between the noble houses, and how the sons of Edward are to vie for supremacy and, ultimately, the throne.
The various personalities, both fictional and historical (and this story carries a multitude of them) were well fleshed out and imbued with their own individual characteristics. William de la Pole is a loyal and true servant of the young king; Derry Brewer is the spymaster whose wheeling and dealing can be likened to a latter-day 'Del Boy' from the UK TV show Only Fools And Horses. Even Henry, the meek and mild king, is three dimensional and it is fascinating to see him start to unravel, the responsibility of kingship too much for his frail mind. Margaret, the young queen, has to be strong to deal with the infirmities of her husband and those in the court who would seek to take control of the royal seal. She is clever, far beyond her years and fiercely loyal to her husband. Alone and afraid she comes to rely on Derry and De La Pole, without whom she would not have survived the Peasant's Rebellion, led by Jack Cade.
Despite the odd irritating anachronism and research error, one being the use of ‘seax’ - a Saxon knife that had long gone out of fashion, the author evokes the era that the War of the Roses was set in very well, although the language of the dialogue was sometimes repetitive with the use of “Do you understand?” being shouted by various characters a little too often which jarred.
This was the audio version and I commend the narrator who does a good job of portraying the different characters with distinctive voices.
Recommended for those who love medieval historical fiction and for those who enjoy audible.
© Paula Wilcox
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