09th May2013

Book Review – Wars of the Roses, Stormbird

by Lloyd Paige

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Synopsis

King Henry V – The great Lion of England – is long dead.

In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the

English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king – Henry depends on his

closest men, spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom.

Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a

strong king if she is to survive. With England’s territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt

at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal

struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.

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?

The Review

Conn Iggulden has written a number of books and is the author of the best-selling ‘Emperor’ and ‘Conqueror’ historical fiction series.

Wars of the Roses Stormbird is Conn Iggulden’s first in a series about the Wars of the Roses for Penguin’s Micheal Joseph imprint and he jumps comfortably into the new period after tackling Caesar, and Khan. The year is 1437 and Henry VI is in charge. The problem is he’s a bit of a ditherer and doesn’t possess the natural leadership qualities of his late father King Henry V. Fortunately he’s in the safe hands of Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole. So much so that they in effect, run the Kingdom.

We must remember though that often love and war walks hand in hand, and in desperation for a truce Brewer devises a master plan or as Iggulden deliciously describes it, ‘vouchsafed’ a plan. The idea is for the easily influenced Henry to marry a French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, and throw in a bit if land too which should do the trick in keeping the French at bay. But there are English subjects living on the bits of land in question, Maine and Anjou.

To make matters worse, the whole thing doesn’t sit well with the volatile Richard, Duke of York – a fighter if ever there was one.

In this special 79 page preview Iggulden sketches Saumur castle, the home of Margaret, with artistic skill and highlights its financial plight while acutely observing the snobbery of the time when the Jewish Reuben Moselle is arrested. He also serves up an engaging scene when York later storms in to see the King.

The characters are rounded enough for the reader to easily buy into them, the dialogue is entertaining and with schemers such as Brewer and de la Pole, we’re anxious see how it will all play out. Such as shame the preview is just that, because I ended up wanting to read quite a fair bit more.

Wars of the Roses Stormbird, will be published by Michael Joseph in October 2013.

Wars of the Roses: Stormbird

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