The Blood of Princes (The Craft of Kings #2) by Derek Birks

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A savage tale of love, treason and betrayal.
A bloody struggle for power at the heart of the royal court.

In April 1483, the sudden death of King Edward IV brings his 12 year old son to the throne.
Restless young lord and ex-mercenary John Elder is newly-appointed to the service of Edward, Prince of Wales, and charged with the boy’s safety. His first task, escorting the new king to London for his coronation, seems a simple one but the accession of a boy king raises concerns among the leading noblemen of the land.
As old jealousies and feuds are rekindled, the new king’s uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, seizes control and plunges the kingdom into crisis. But is Gloucester young Edward’s enemy, or saviour?
While John, outlawed and trapped, must wait to see how events unfold, other members of the battle-scarred Elder family are drawn, one by one, into his conspiracy. Soon they are mired so deep in the murky underbelly of London society, that there seems no hope of escape from the tangle of intrigue and murder.
In the end, all lives will hang upon the outcome of a daring incursion into the Tower of London itself.

REVIEW

I’m of the opinion that if you Google the phrase “adrenaline rush”, you should be directed to a page describing Derek Birks’ fictional 15th century family, The Elders. Throughout the tales in both the Rebels and Brothers series, and in the Craft of Kings, the reader is treated to intense emotional upheaval, traumatizing losses, hopeless situations; and yet the Elders persevere in the face of all the changes and challenges. I may have stated in my review of one of the prior books, that Eleanor Elder is at the top of a long list of my favorite fictional characters…after reading The Blood of Princes, I now have to add Lady Margaret Elder (Meg).

It’s tough enough being proclaimed an ‘outlaw’. Now, John Elder faces impossible tasks,.. keeping his family intact, rescuing Tower imprisoned Princes of the Realm, and by the way, staying alive. Book 2 is a certified roller-coaster ride through the transition from Edward IV to his son; but wait, there’re more contestants to the throne, more loyalties tested, more oaths sworn or forsaken, and a whole lot more danger to life and limb. The author has once again delivered the entire package, so dear reader, fasten your seat belts. The adrenaline is about to start coursing through your veins.  5 stars

 

The Beaufort Bride: The Life of Margaret Beaufort (Beaufort Chronicles #1) by Judith Arnopp

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As King Henry VI slips into insanity and the realm of England teeters on the brink of civil war, a child is married to the mad king’s brother. Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, takes his child bride into Wales where she discovers a land of strife and strangers.
At Caldicot Castle and Lamphey Palace Margaret must put aside childhood, acquire the dignity of a Countess and, despite her tender years, produce Richmond with a son and heir.
While Edmund battles to restore the king’s peace, Margaret quietly supports his quest; but it is a quest fraught with danger.
As the friction between York and Lancaster intensifies 14-year-old Margaret, now widowed, turns for protection to her brother-in-law, Jasper Tudor. At his stronghold in Pembroke, two months after her husband’s death, Margaret gives birth to a son whom she names Henry, after her cousin the king.
Margaret is small of stature but her tiny frame conceals a fierce and loyal heart and a determination that will not falter until her son’s destiny as the king of England is secured.
The Beaufort Bride traces Margaret’s early years from her nursery days at Bletsoe Castle to the birth of her only son in 1457 at Pembroke Castle. Her story continues in Book Two: The Beaufort Woman.

REVIEW

Growing up in America, my education did not include learning too much about British kings, the exception being George III, and perhaps Alfred. The Tudors were not common fare for our  history books notwithstanding Henry VIII and his six wives, a failing that I have remedied the last few years through historical-fiction novels (and the subsequent research those tales inspire.) The story of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, is poignantly told in The Beaufort Bride. She lived in an age when girls of the noble classes were often deprived of any control over their lives, subjected to an unknown future with a husband they may have never met. The author does a superb job rendering that fear, that uncertainty, that determination to survive in the character of a 13 year old girl, a pawn in the game of courtly politics. In an easy flowing narrative, we follow the life of Margaret as she comes to grips with her lot in life and the circumstances that place her and her child in the dangerous world of royal succession. I was captivated by this seemingly powerless, and fragile child as she struggled and succeeded to make the best of her situation, and the despair she felt when that situation was shattered.

I enjoy the heck out of books that keep me turning the pages long after the time I’ve allotted for reading, and this is one of those. Looking forward to continuing Margaret’s story. 4 stars

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The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St.John

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  A fascinating tale of the period when England said goodbye to the Tudors and hello to the Stuarts. The protagonist, Lucy, grows up in a household where she is treated with contempt by her guardian and by her scheming sister Barbara. In a time when women had very little say in their futures and where the intricate, backstabbing antics of the Royal Court, Lucy struggles to survive.  Married to an important member of the King’s retinue of courtiers, she finds herself living in the infamous Tower of London, the wife of the Tower Gaoler.

The author paints a vivid picture of life in the early 17th century. I was drawn in by the descriptive, and indeed the educative nature that arises from the pages. Lucy, a woman, dares to formulate and even more daring, lets her opinions known. It was indeed a world dominated by men of noble birth, not very unlike the world we live in now(substitute rich for noble). In Lucy’s words, “I so tire of these court behaviors, where the men who rule think only of their own affairs and not of those of the citizens of this land.” Words that I utter every day.

I chose to read this book not knowing much of the period, at least not from the perspective of the court of King James and his son Charles. I now know a lot more, and if there is one thing I love to do is to learn history. If I can do that and be entertained along the way, then so much the better. The author has done those things while at the same time preparing the way for a sequel. After all of the pain, anguish, fear, and even the joys of her life, Lucy emerges as one of the more interesting characters I have come across in my historical-fiction reading. 5 stars

The Cardinal’s Court by Cora Harrison

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When Hugh Mac Egan’s client is implicated in a murder…a murder that happened while the King, Henry VIII, was in residence at Cardinal Wolsey’s Hampton Court, he has to use all of his wiles to prove him innocent or watch him hang(or worse). The Cardinal’s Court is a wonderfully crafted whodunit, plenty of suspects to choose from, plenty of motives, and plenty of shenanigans designed to foil Hugh’s progress. The author has given the reader a fascinating look into the court intrigues, the political maneuverings, the nuances of Irish versus English law, and the daily routines that enable Hampton Court to function.  An enjoyable read awaits you, my peeps and fellow travelers, along with a tantalizing mystery to solve.  4 stars

Owen – Book 1 Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

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Blurb

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history.

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors?

This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told.

Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is a new addition to story of the Tudors in the historical fiction tradition of C J Sansom, Conn Iggulden, Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel.

Review

Over the last few years I have read many historical-fiction novels that deal with the various monarchies throughout Britain’s long history. It’s stunning the amount of turmoil that surrounds whoever occupies the throne. Even such redoubtable rulers like Richard Lionheart, and Henry VIII had to deal with treacherous nobles asserting their claim to the crown. In this tale, the first in The Tudor Trilogy, Owain ap Tudur, a Welsh servant known to the English as Owen Tudor, in an emotionally charged, and fateful twist of fate begets the royal Tudor line.  Now the manner in which that happens is a bit of a spoiler, so, I will not divulge that particular bit of plot. However, that plot line is a good example of how resilient, and resourceful Owen becomes; necessary because of the enmity he causes by his actions.  Owen is a survivor and the author provides ample opportunities for him to succumb to failure or depression.

It is a well researched book with the author gleaning from sparse historical records enough to bring Owen to life in an entertaining and enjoyable fashion. The characters are well rounded, the settings evoke the feeling that the reader is there, and the story is a captivating glimpse at the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. I am certainly going to continue to follow up with Jasper, and Henry; the other books in the series.  4 stars

 

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