The Sunne in Splendour
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The Sunne in Splendour

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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  12,169 ratings  ·  762 reviews
The classic, magnificent bestselling novel about Richard III, now in a special thirtieth anniversary edition with a new preface by the author

Inthis triumphant combination of scholarship and storytelling, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III—vilified as the bitter, twisted, scheminghunchback who murdered his nephews, the princes in the Tower—from his malignedplace in histo...more
ebook, 1110 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1982)
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StoryTellerShannon
This was Penman's first novel and still one of my favorites. A little trivia: she actually hand wrote a good deal of this novel, lost it and then started all over again. That's commitment! SUNNE traces the life of Richard III, breaking it into three sections of this 800+ page novel:

PART ONE sheds light on that confusing Historical time known as the Wars of the Roses (back in the day I never "got it" until I read this piece). For those who never truly understood it, you will get a better grasp...more
Anna
I've become hooked on Richard III. We all know what he's accused of, but until recently, I've never given much thought to his defence. After reading various accounts of him and his contemporaries, I've realised that history, based on Tudor propaganda, could have very badly betrayed him.

The Sunne In Splendour covers his entire life from the age of about 7. In a 900 page book, the first third read like an increasingly interesting history lesson, but then the more personal story-telling side kicke...more
Mansoor
Apr 20, 2007 Mansoor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who hate Richard III
When my friend described The Sunne in Splendour as "a historical fiction about two English kings," I thought, "Sounds like a real page turner." But, it is a real page turner. I've never found English history so fascinating.

This was my first experience with the genre of historical fiction. Naively, I always assumed the writers chose between history and fiction. But, this book was written by a well-known English historian, and the fiction only supplements the history. That's what makes it exciting...more
Ana T.
Sharon Kay Penman's biography of Richard III is one of my favorite books of all time. I have hesitated in writing this review for quite a while because I'm not sure I can do it justice.

Born into an England ripped apart by the bloody War of the Roses, Richard was in awe of his older brother Edward. He stayed loyal to his brother and loyal to Anne Neville, the daughter of the enemy. It was this loyalty that was his strength, and finally his undoing.

There are many things to enjoy. Her construction...more
Bette BookAddict
Jul 08, 2014 Bette BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction, Tudor history lovers
Recommended to Bette BookAddict by: Elaine
Shelves: best-of-the-best

The story evolves around Edward IV and Richard III (and lots of other characters) with a plot so rich, you could be forgiven in thinking that it is pure fiction. Simply too involved to summarize here; my reactions/comment follow.

With a novel this lengthy, you really need a hearty liking of Tudor based stories. I didn't realize that I had so enjoyed Richard III's story until the last 50 pages or so, when I found I had deliberately slowed my reading because I simply did not want to come to the en...more
Misfit
This was a wonderful story. Although I was prepared to keep an open mind as to my previous opinions on Richard III (from reading Alison Weir's Princes in the Tower), I was sure I would still come out believing that Richard did the kids. Now I am not so convinced, I am prepared to believe he was a good man. This book also covers much about Edward the IV, Richard's brother. All in all a very good history lesson.

The book was well written, the story line kept me interested through all 900 + pages a...more
Amanda
This is Sharon Penman's first novel, and over the course of 900 pages she deals with the life and times of Richard of Gloucester, the man who was to become Richard III of England. History has not dealt kindly with Richard - Tudor propaganda has dealt him a cruel blow by making him out to be a deformed and evil man who was able to put his nephews to death and contemplate bedding his niece while his beloved wife lay close to death.

In this story, we follow the fortunes of the Yorkists from Richard'...more
Ikonopeiston
Jan 16, 2009 Ikonopeiston rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ricardians, history buffs
Shelves: ricardian, kindle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marina
First, a little story - by the books I recently read, it may be obvious that I'm all over medieval England and War of the Roses especially. Funnily enough, I was hardly aware of the subject until March the 3rd, 2012, when I've read a childhood favorite The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. It takes place during the war and mentions the completely awesome, if a bit of a prick, Duke of Gloucester and the House of York. Obviously, I wanted to know more and this place:
http://www.historicalnovels.info/Wars-of-the-Roses.html
was very he...more
Steven Peterson
Historical fiction can be done well--or badly. This novel is in the former category. Sharon Kay Penman's book traces the story of Edward IV and Richard III and those surrounding them. Treachery is a continuing undercurrent in this work (and in the actual history of the times; this is not a literary device).

As with most historical novels of this era, it's hard to keep track of the cast of characters. It would have been helpful to have had genealogical tables to help in reading the book and making...more
Gisela Kretzschmar
Apr 08, 2009 Gisela Kretzschmar rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: just any lover of historical fiction.
From the very first pages into this book, I found myself liking the young Richard, and I wondered, "How in the heck can this be the same boy who will grow up to murder his own nephews?" A fiercely loyal and earnest lad, he is the youngest of his family, small, dark and intense and very different from his three tall and fair brothers. He is Richard Plantagenet, who, as King Richard III, will go down in history as the epitome of evil, a murderous usurper.

Murderer he wasn't, claims Sharon Penman....more
Barb
This is the first book by Sharon Kay Penman that I've read and I have to say that I'm very impressed. Penman does an amazing job of laying before the reader the tangled web of deceit that surrounded the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III in way that makes it easy to understand.

This is the story of The War of the Roses and the life of Richard III. We follow Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester, 'Dickon', as his family calls him, through the deaths of his father and brother, the rise of his b...more
Maria Grazia
This is one of the most difficult reviews I’ve ever decided to write. Difficult is … to find the right words when something touches you so deeply. THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR is honestly one of the most compelling and gripping novels I’ve ever read and a book to add to my “ the unforgettable”shelf . Actually it is still on my bedside table and it’ll stay there for long. Difficult is also to part from what and whom you love. And I have loved Ms Penman’s Dickon and his heartwarming story so much that i...more
Anita Elder
This is my all-time favorite historical fiction book! It's long, but I found myself hanging on to every word.

The book is about the War of the Roses - that is, the Yorks (Plantagenet) against the Lancasters (Tudors) and starts when King Richard III is a little boy. It follows his brother, King Edward IV's battles to win and hold the crown. It also tells the story of how Warwick, nicknamed the king maker, helped Edward gain the throne and later betrayed him (even though he was a close cousin). Whe...more
Eric_W
The "Sunne in Splendour" refers to the coat-of-arms of Edward IV, brother of Richard III. It's also the title of a delightful historical novel by Sharon Kay Penman that I discovered while browsing in a bookstore in Pennsylvania. (One should never, ever, enter a bookstore while on vacation and in possession of a credit card, unless one has worked out on weight-lifting machines for several weeks beforehand.)

Ms. Penman has gone to great lengths to make her novel as historically accurate as possibl...more
Suzanne
It’s no secret that Sharon Kay Penman is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. She is well-researched and Penman makes history come alive in a way that the textbooks could never do. I have read this book before and like my earlier reading, I loved it.

This is the story of England’s King Richard III. The battle that begins the book sets the stage for this family’s (the Yorkists) takeover of the crown from the House of Lancaster. Ultimately, Richard’s father and brother, Edmund are kill...more
Karen Brooks
The old adage “history is always written by the victors” holds true – and when it comes to recounting the infamous War of the Roses – the ongoing fight between the houses of York and Lancaster and their bloody battle for the English throne in the fifteenth century - we have the saying enacted. For in the years after Henry VII took the throne, the Tudors (backed by Lancastrians) made a huge effort to both erase and alter the way the two York monarchs: Edward IV and his brother, Richard the III, w...more
Nate
This was an overwhelmingly intense book--it's so full of beauty, sadness, humanity and almost unrelenting violence and turmoil. I know that sounds pretty hyperbolic but it really is, I haven't been affected by a book like this in a while. Penman's writing is powerful and feels of the time (minus a few anachronisms) but in an accessible way, without pomp or pretense. The story concerns a wide cast of characters centering around Richard III, all dealing with their own goals and problems during a v...more
James
Aug 15, 2012 James rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers
Recommended to James by: a fan of Hillary Mantel
Hillary Mantel fans Will Enjoy This Rehabilitation of Richard III .

History enthusiasts and those who enjoy Hillary Mantel’s best selling historical fiction novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies will almost certainly enjoy Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour. Whereas, Mantel presents a more plausible rehabilitation of the often vilified Thomas Cromwell in her two novels of the early Tudor court, Penman attempts to go much farther with Richard III. This novel is interesting and extremel...more
Erin
As I have to focus on my edits of LWL for the foreseeable future, rather than start reading something new I thought I'd treat myself to a re-read of an old favourite I
haven't picked up for a few years! <3

NB: I'd forgotten just how much Richard and Anne Neville sexytime there is in this book!!



Lill
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I'd read one of Penman's books before, and was impressed, but this one really blew me away.

For starters, I like historical fiction but don't usually read the sort that stars real historical figures. The characters in such books often lack personality and the plots are frequently dull. Happily, The Sunne in Splendour bears no resemblance to such books.

This is the story of the War of the Roses, spanning 33 years, from 1459 to 1492. It's also the story of Richard III, one of the most vilified kin...more
Jane
I have had it in mind for a long time that I would re-read ‘The Sunne in Splendour’ one day. It wasn’t quite the first historical novel I read, but it was one of the first; it was the book that made me realise that made me realise that research and writing could be brought together to make history live and breathe, it was the book that made me understand the consequences of history being written by the victors, and it was the book that was the first step on a particular reading journey.

I hadn’t...more
Jessica
I loved this book. I have to confess, I read The Daughter of Time when I was about ten and since then have been convinced that Richard III was a good man framed. I was kind of rabid about it for awhile, but then life moved on. Anyway, this book brought it all back, along with a lot more information about the circumstances leading up to Richard's reign, about which I didn't know much. In fact, most of the novel is about Richard's older brother Edward IV, who was quite the macho man. Penman makes...more
KJ
Nov 30, 2008 KJ rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans, people who are interested in alternative views of history
I read this book because it came highly, highly recommended by a friend, so maybe I was going into it with my expectations set too high. This is not to say I didn't enjoy it -- I did, very much. I hadn't realized that there was controversy over the common conception of Richard III, and I'm always interested in getting a different take on historical figures, especially when the new perspective is well-backed by the historical record. History is written by the winners, and Richard III was most def...more
Oshun
One of the best, if not the best, historical novel I have read to date. I started it because it was about the War of the Roses, something which we do not study in an detail in the US in school. Was also reading the George R.R. Martin books which he claims to have modeled upon or been influenced by that period of history. Penman completely hooked me on his characters--the ones I loved and ones I loved to hate. She gave GRRM a run for his money and won. She made a world and a period of history liv...more
Elaine
This was a very timely read for me due to the finding of Richard III's remains. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it certainly has caused me to see The Tudors in a different light. As for Richard III,I knew very little about him before reading this novel. Although I know much of it is fiction, there are a lot of historical facts here. Reading it made me wish, inspite the fact I knew how the story ends, that Richard had prevailed in the final battle against Henry Tudor. I would highly recommend...more
Murray
This is a long, informative, entertaining and very well researched book. Richard III has suffered from the fact the Tudors wrote the history that followed and Shakespeare penned his excellent play in Elizabeth Tudor's shadow.
At the end you have a really good idea why history turned out the way it did and also confirmation that Richard was very unlikely to have murdered the princes in the tower (his much loved brother's sons). The portrait of George, Duke of Clarence is particularly good; a tota...more
Meg C.
Very well-researched and believable account of Richard III and the Wars of the Roses. Attempts to put a human face to the much-maligned king, depicting him as the unfortunate victim of circumstance and his enemies' machinations. I don't know much about this time period so I can't comment on the historical validity, but it seems to me that the author did her homework. The result is a compelling narrative of this fascinating period in British history. Like Penman's other novels, the characterizati...more
Joanne
If you like watching the Showtime TV show The Tudors, you'll love this book. It's a long book, but a serious pageturner packed with suspense and a constant string of overlapping drama-- war, love, hate, battlefields, jealousy, trust, loyalty, deceit, conspiracy, incest, seduction, polygamy-- and all this based on real historical accounts. Sunne in Splendour is about the life of Richard III (1452-1485), a long-time controversial character in English history. The book starts with Richard's life at...more
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Penman received her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin, she majored in history, and also received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Rutgers University School of Law, and later worked as a tax lawyer. Penman suffered from an eighteen month bout with mononucleosis.

The Sunne in Splendour, a novel about Richard III of England is one of the most popular books on the Historical Nov...more
More about Sharon Kay Penman...
Here be Dragons (Welsh Princes, #1) When Christ and His Saints Slept  (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1) Falls the Shadow  (Welsh Princes, #2) The Reckoning  (Welsh Princes, #3) Time and Chance (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #2)

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“We tend to forget at times that it is the little ones, the children, who do suffer the greatest hurt. If we cannot comprehend why certain sorrows are visited upon us, how on earth can they?” 60 likes
“Men are born to sin…What does matter most, is not that we err, it is that we do benefit from our mistakes, that we are capable of sincere repentance, of genuine contrition.” 26 likes
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