Wars of the Roses: Bloodline: Book 3 (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden

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Wars of the Roses: Bloodline: Book 3 (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The Wars of the Roses thunders on as Elizabeth Woodville enters the fray. Conn Iggulden encourages us to take sides – Elizabeth nasty, Warwick the Kingmaker good – in the third of his rattling good hist-fict series.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Michael Joseph
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0718159870

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The Wars of the Roses continue. Margaret of Anjou becomes a catalyst for what lays ahead and then rescues her husband, the debilitated Henry VI, from the forces of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and the recently executed Richard of York. However York's last words weren't empty rhetoric: by killing the father Margaret has indeed unleashed the sons. Edward of March for one is out for revenge; a fact that throws the English throne and the safety of Queen's spymaster Derry Brewer into grave doubt.

One of the masters of a good hist-fict tale, Conn Iggulden gives us the third in his exemplary The Wars of the Roses series. This time he leads us into the era when England had two simultaneous crowned heads. Before we reach that stage though there's plenty of adventure and two very strong women.

In a way, Conn gives us the other side of the coin offered by writers like Philippa Gregory. I really love Dr G's work but it is good to read an alternative view of two women that Philippa has, to some extent, championed: Queen Margaret and the up and coming Elizabeth Woodville.

In Conn's series both are still politically astute and brilliant thinkers but they're also not very nice. As Margaret effectively attempts to retain the crown for her now child-like and very ill husband she becomes more ruthless, giving Derry cause to question his loyalty.

As for Elizabeth, her influence on Edward of March is writ large. As she sees the dizzy heights her own family could reach (including the two sons from her previous marriage) she worms, wends and manipulates to give those she loves a leg up. As you can imagine this doesn't make her very popular with Edward's blood relatives.

Richard, Earl of Warwick, 'The Kingmaker' continues to be a hero. He does of course do some fixing of his own but Conn ensures we're totally on his side so fully accept his right to do so.

As usual in an Iggulden novel, whether deep in politics or on a battle field, we're totally engrossed. We absorb the history via some rip roaring entertainment that doesn't side step fascinating facts. For instance I'd never heard of The Burners before. The author also continues to explain the power vacuum created by Henry VI's total breakdown and how the contenders seek to fill it when Margaret loses a bit of impetus.

While a top layer of important nobility is wiped out on the block leaving their offspring the baton of collective rebellion, we see in this novel something missing from many a textbook: the humanity behind the names and events. As Edward begins to despair about how to deal with Elizabeth in the face of family annoyance, we feel sorry for him. Then as we read Conn's notes at the back we feel sorry for the author! (A lovely piece regarding the dilemma caused by the Plantagenet using the same first names over and over.) Actually, after reading the notes, I returned to the last page and realised something of cheer to those who thought this a trilogy: the book doesn't really end. So, we ask ourselves… ok, I ask myself… could there be more? Needless to say my fingers are firmly crossed!

(Thank you so much Michael Joseph for providing us with a copy for review via Netgalley.)

Further Reading: If you haven’t read Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Wars of the Roses 1) or Wars of the Roses: Trinity (Wars of the Roses 2), you're missing a treat. If you've read them and would like another view on Elizabeth Woodville and how she influences the conflict (albeit a lot more fictionalised), try that of a commoner in Sons of York: Volume 2 (The Sprigs of Broom) by Lesley J Nickell. (This works well as a standalone so Volume 1 is optional.)

Buy Wars of the Roses: Bloodline: Book 3 (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wars of the Roses: Bloodline: Book 3 (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Wars of the Roses: Bloodline: Book 3 (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wars of the Roses: Bloodline: Book 3 (The Wars of the Roses) by Conn Iggulden at Amazon.com.


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