Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book Review - "Bloodline: War of the Roses, #3" by Conn Iggulden

I had previously read the first novel in the series Stormbird and liked it but did not love it - the fictional character Derry Brewer was irritatingly unreal to me. In this third novel he only has a small part and his behavior and actions are much more believable.

The novel is divided into two parts: the first mainly dealing with the vicious Battle of Towton between the Lancastrian army led by Margaret of Anjou (Henry VI's wife) and the one led by Edward of York and Richard Neville ("the Kingmaker"), and the second part focusing on the poisonous feud between Elizabeth Woodville (Edward IV's wife) and Richard Neville, and the latter's ultimate downfall.

The battle scenes are skillfully drawn to keep readers on their toes, but after a while, they lose some of their pull (at least they did for me). I personally found Part Two to be much more satisfying than the first, if only for the vivid characterization of the leading actors like Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Richard Neville, and the piquant description of their increasingly convoluted relationships with each other as self-interest comes into play. In particular, Richard Neville is painted in a sympathetic light, which is not hard at all to believe.

Upon Elizabeth entering Edward's life, the friendship and trust between him and Richard begins to sour. Richard, once a loyal mentor and right-hand man to King Edward, is made to look like a fool in the French court on at least two occasions; his two brothers are made to suffer overt and callous humiliation, with the Neville family losing estates and titles; and Edward meanly rejects Richard's petition for his daughter to wed the Duke of Clarence (Edward's brother). So, we can at least understand his rage and his desire for revenge, even if we do not see the prudence of his making a precipitous and brash move to imprison Edward and consider putting Henry back on the throne. As things turn out, he sadly underestimates Edward's popularity among the subjects, which is enough to doom him to failure. His subsequent regret is almost a foregone conclusion.

This was a good historical fiction read that is worth 4 solid stars.

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