Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden
|Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The final volume in Conn's Wars of the Roses series brings it all together. Four kings, one story and one exemplary storyteller bringing it to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: May 2016|
|Publisher: Michael Joseph|
|External links: Author's website|
Edward IV and his brother Richard of Gloucester aren't exactly accepting of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick deserting them to stand with the ailing Henry VI again. The sons of York are gathering support in Burgundy while Edward's wife Elizabeth (nee Woodville) gives birth to his son in the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey. Meanwhile Henry's wife Margaret of Anjou is also in France, drumming up resources for the return of their son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Elsewhere a 14 year old Henry Tudor is waiting at one of history's most important cross roads.
Renowned and much loved historical fiction author Conn Iggulden brings his Wars of the Roses series to a crashing, thrilling climax in this, the forth book. He's one of the few hist fict authors who, even if we're aware of the historical process of events, regularly ensures that excitement levels surpass all academic spoilers. This book is no exception, as the 5* rating proves.
Poor Henry VI continues to regress into a second childhood caused by a mental breakdown just when he – and England – need his faculties most.
Warwick (named Kingmaker for the leg-up he gave to both Henry and Edward) is doing his best but the powers for change are gathering momentum. In fact since Edward vowed to kill Warwick due to the latter's turn coat tendencies and a small matter of a family death, Richard Neville has his own problems. Meanwhile Henry's wonderful but now aged spymaster Derry is reduced to babysitting the monarch he serves.
He may be one of the few fictional characters in the series, but Derry has remained my stalwart favourite throughout, with the sympathetically portrayed Warwick a close second.
The nail biting builds to a crescendo of cuticle-suffering when Edward and Richard land at Ravenspur on England's northern east coast. On the way there are plenty of vignettes and realisations to keep us occupied.
For instance, Conn brings us the image of 9-months-pregnant Elizabeth Woodville rushing through the streets of London towards safety with her mother, children and reduced retinue pursued by Henry's forces. I knew the outcome and yet I was still on the edge of my seat as the gap slowly closed and as for the argumentative monks…!
Then there's ironic juxtaposition as near the end we watch Edward's army effect the brutal aftermath of Tewkesbury while we remember his wife's need for sanctuary at the beginning. That bloody hypocrisy (in its literal sense) had never dawned on me before.
Yet another penny drop moment was counting how many individual groups were chasing the crown in an almost historical tag team approach. Through their respective struggles and fortunes Conn shows us history as a seesaw with fate in the middle, lending weight or removing it at a whim. There are so many times that the fight for the monarchy could have gone either way, with even the weather playing a pivotal role.
As expected with a final-in-series, there are some sad farewells among the triumphs and smiles. One in particular I've been dreading since Book 1 and yet when it arrived Conn set it up as gently as he could under the circumstances. (Yes, that was something in my eye… honest!)
While we wait for Conn's next book I'm going back to the beginning to relive the moments when all our heroes were young and the future was full of possibilities. Yes, now we most definitely know how it finishes but this is writer that makes the journey as rewarding as the destination and so it bears a repeat read… or two.
(Thank you to the good folk at Michael Joseph for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you’ve not read them in order (shame on you!) then your next recommended read is Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Wars of the Roses 1) by Conn Iggulden|Stormbird (Wars of the Roses 1)]] and/or Trinity (Wars of the Roses 2) and/or Bloodline: Book 3. If you enjoy good historical fiction and have read those, then come forward a few centuries with The Midnight Watch by David Dyer and read about one of the lesser-known stories from the night the Titanic sank.
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