Margaret of Anjou

Margaret of Anjou (Wars of the Roses, #2)Margaret of Anjou by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Still 4 stars, but I thought this was a tad better than the first book. The action was a little easier to follow, though it still jumps from character to character. Derry Brewer is here, though not as a prominent character. Great battle scenes, a feisty queen doing her best to protect her young son and her vulnerable (and mostly mentally absent) husband, Henry VI. The British title of this book, Trinity, seems more apt to me. Plot and action all revolve around Richard Plantagenet the Duke of York, his brother-in-law Richard Neville the Earl of Salisbury, and Neville’s son Richard the Earl of Warwick, who join forces against the supporters of the king – cousins Edmund Beaufort the Duke of Somerset, and Henry Percy the Earl of Northumberland. The resulting family feud and the struggle for power results in a war that threatens to tear England apart. Time period covered is 1454 through the defeat of Richard of York in 1460.

Book description: It is 1454 and for over a year King Henry VI has remained all but exiled in Windsor Castle, struck down by his illness, his eyes vacant, his mind a blank. His fiercely loyal wife and Queen, Margaret of Anjou, safeguards her husband’s interests, hoping that her son Edward will one day come to know his father. With each month that Henry is all but absent as king, Richard, the Duke of York, Protector of the Realm, extends his influence throughout the kingdom. The Trinity—Richard and the earls of Salisbury and Warwick—are a formidable trio, and together they seek to break the support of those who would raise their colors and their armies in the name of Henry and his Queen. But when the king unexpectedly recovers his senses and returns to London to reclaim his throne, the balance of power is once again plunged into turmoil. The clash of the Houses of Lancaster and York may be the beginning of a war that can tear England apart . . .

Wars of the Roses: Stormbird

Stormbird (Wars of the Roses, #1)Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished the audiobook of this several weeks ago, but had been finding it difficult to follow, so began reading the book alongside. There is such a density of impressions in the writing that seemed to go right over my head listening to it. This is a book that might even require several readings. I have puzzled over the title, wondering who or what is the “Stormbird” or what does the term signify. I may be wrong, but I have decided that Richard of York, whose personal device was a falcon with outstretched talons, deserves that honor. While this is an ensemble piece involving many “main” characters, Richard is always there in the background, manipulating people and events to his own favor, becoming all but king in the end. Along with the mostly absent Richard of York, we have Derry Brewer (fictional)- the king’s spymaster, Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI, William de la Pole – the Duke of Suffolk, Jack Cade – who instigated a rebellion, and Thomas Woodchurch – a fictional archer who is acquainted with both Derry and Jack, first fighting in France for England and then, after the loss of his land in France, joining Jack Cade’s rebellion. Lots of Errol Flynn daring-do for those who like action and battle scenes. The four stars is mainly for entertainment value. I do get a bit frustrated with historical fiction writers who don’t stick with the historical timeline! At least he admits it in the end notes. My other caveat is that there are gratuitous scenes and characters with no bearing on the overall arc of the story. Still, it’s a jolly good romp and I’m looking forward to the next book.

Book description:
In 1437, the Lancaster king Henry VI ascends the throne of England after years of semi-peaceful regency. Named “The Lamb,” Henry is famed more for his gentle and pious nature than his father’s famous battlefield exploits; already, his dependence on his closest men has stirred whispers of weakness at court. A secret truce negotiated with France to trade British territories for a royal bride—Margaret of Anjou—sparks revolts across English territory. The rival royal line, the House of York, sees the chaos brought on by Henry’s weakness and with it the opportunity to oust an ineffectual king. As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who or what can save the kingdom before it is too late?