It is very unlikely that I would have bought this book had it not been available in a Kindle edition. The combination of low price and convenience led...moreIt is very unlikely that I would have bought this book had it not been available in a Kindle edition. The combination of low price and convenience led me to take the chance and so I have read it. The most positive thing I can find to say is that it is, at least, not one of those dreadful historical bodice-ripping romances. Aside from that, I found nothing of value or revelation in these pages.
Part of the problem, I think, is that I am currently immersed in historical and biographical fact and have little patience with easily corrected errors. Ms. Maxwell simply did not do her homework. Her research seems to have consisted of a quick glance at one of her old schoolbooks. I quickly lost count of the obviously incorrect statements she made although one continually occurring error was particularly annoying. She kept using "Majesty" as a title for the Plantagenet royalty who were content with a simple "Your Grace" as their address. It was the jumped up insecure Tudors who insisted on being called "Your Majesty." There are any number of other tone-deaf usages in the story. Even in her Author's Note there is evidence of unseemly haste; she completely misunderstood Tey's point in The Daughter of Time. To a Ricardian, there is hardly any greater sin.
She did resist the impulse to make Richard a black-hearted villain even though she made him a weak, whinging, easily led idiot. And she did accurately depict Buckingham as Richard's bad angel. Her solution to the fate of the sons of Edward IV is unusual but hardly convincing. There is no feel for the fifteenth century here and no explanation for most of the leaps of logic she makes. Why was Edward V so attached to his uncle Clarence? What was the truth of the execution of Hastings? Was it done in a rush or a week after his arrest? Was Stillington a frail, frightened priest concerned for his soul and the good of England or a sturdy plotter in his own right? Did Margaret of Burgundy really dislike her brother Richard? Where is the evidence? Indeed, this is a girls' adventure story and is totally unworthy to be shelved with historical novels. It will do to pass an idle afternoon; it is an easy read. But it is a shabby attempt to explain the mystery supposedly at the heart of her story. It is as shabby as Henry VII and as dishonest. (less)
I cannot recall how many times I have read this book. At the moment, I am re-reading in order to compare it to some of the historical details I have b...moreI cannot recall how many times I have read this book. At the moment, I am re-reading in order to compare it to some of the historical details I have been immersed in. I suspect Ms Tey has all her facts straight but I shall be interested in seeing if she missed any or slanted some too far. As a Ricardian, I do treasure this book.(less)
This is an interesting speculation on what happened to the Princes in the Tower, the sons of Edward IV. All the usual suspects are mentioned and the c...moreThis is an interesting speculation on what happened to the Princes in the Tower, the sons of Edward IV. All the usual suspects are mentioned and the case against each is faithfully laid out. Potter proposes a totally unique solution and one which requires more than a little suspension of disbelief. However, he earnestly presents and defends his proposal and I enjoyed the stretching of my mind his words demanded.
The late Mr. Potter was a mainstay of the Richard III Society and touches all the bases in the history of the turbulent time when the Tudors were attempting to make their position secure. The feeling of familiarity was comforting as I read. While he is no master of fiction, Potter does well enough and his story surges right along even though I have the distinct feeling he would be more at home in history rather than fancy. (less)
This book is a veritable treasure trove of Ricardian information. Let me be clear - in no way is it the type of non-critical, slightly hysterical, ove...moreThis book is a veritable treasure trove of Ricardian information. Let me be clear - in no way is it the type of non-critical, slightly hysterical, overly romantic defence of "the last English king" which is so off-putting and embarrassing to those of us who believe in his innate decency. On the contrary, it is a clear eyed look at the varying changes which time has brought to the reputation of Richard III.
This book takes the facts with which I am very familiar and organizes them differently. This tends to emphasize some aspects I had not considered as carefully as I might have. Potter offers gentle excuses for the more colourful excesses of More and Shakespeare and shows far more tolerance toward them than I am inclined to show. Each critic and supporter of the King is set in his own times which gives some rationale for why each wrote as he did. This chronological pattern is helpful in understanding why the Great Debate still rages.
Amongst the things I did not know was that a second set of bones was discovered in a walled-up room of the Tower of London in 1647 and were supposed to be those of the sons of Edward IV. This tends to cast a rather different light on those found buried beneath a staircase in 1674. Yet the latter set was reverently placed in an urn designed by Sir Christopher Wren which bears a slanderous inscription in Latin accusing their uncle of their deaths. Potter also includes the reasons why the Dean of Westminster Abbey will not now let the inurned bones be examined by modern forensic experts.
Potter makes a powerful case that Richard was not suicidal when the led the charge toward Henry Tydder at Ambrion Hill. (I am not entirely persuaded of his opinion.) However, I do agree with him that Richard was a far better soldier than politician and it was his failure to act decisively to put down the traitors at his court which laid the foundations for his betrayal at Bosworth.
One of the more interesting facts in the book is the mention of non-historians who have been convinced of the rightness of the Ricardian cause. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was one as was Jane Austen. Nearer out own day, Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, and especially Rex Stout were ardent Ricardians - the latter exiled More's Utopia from his bookshelves because of his outrage at the man's perfidy concerning Richard.
All in all, this is a fair-minded and meaty book which gave me much pleasure and even more food for thought. The illustrations are an excellent addition to the text and the front-piece showing the statue of Richard at Leicester is particularly moving. I am altogether delighted to have this volume on my shelves. (less)
**spoiler alert** I bought this book after reading a selection from it on my Amazon Kindle. Thank goodness for the Kindle edition. I have copiously an...more**spoiler alert** I bought this book after reading a selection from it on my Amazon Kindle. Thank goodness for the Kindle edition. I have copiously annotated as I read in order not to lose track of felicitously phrased passages and important details. Penman does an excellent job in keeping the various strands of this complex tapestry in their proper places. Finally, I think I have a feel for the Wars of the Roses!
One of the places where Penman does a bit of dodging has to do with the death of George, Duke of Clarence. Legend has it that he was drowned in a butt of malmsey. Revisionists say this is a poetic way of referring to his tendency to drink heavily of this particularly vile concoction. Penman only has the priest suggest to Clarence that drowning is said to be an easy death. No details. Hah!
The picture of given here of Richard is based mostly on Kendall's biography. It would have been helpful had Penman shown us a little more of the ruthlessness which was a part of his character. He was, after all, a man of his times - a time in which strength was valued over mercy. Nonetheless, it is true that both Edward IV and Richard were inclined toward making supporters of their enemies for purely political reasons. And there is no doubt that Richard was a man of justice for all, not just the powerful; his Council of the North and his only Parliament bear witness to that. Modern readers will be surprised to learn how many of our present rights were established by Richard III.
It is always pleasant to see a skillful attempt at the rehabilitation of an unjustly maligned historical figure. Sir Thomas More and Shakespeare have much to answer for. As Kendall says about the Shakespeare's play: "What a tribute this is to art; what a misfortune this is for history."
I am reading this book again to get the taste of a poorly written and researched effort I have just finished out of my mind.
This is a very useful book for someone who is already familiar with the period. It is beautiful and lovingly presents both important documents (Titulu...moreThis is a very useful book for someone who is already familiar with the period. It is beautiful and lovingly presents both important documents (Titulus Regius) and contemporary images and objects in fine detail. It is worth the cost for those alone.
Cunningham purports to be even-handed in his treatment of Richard. He is not. His text, aside from the captions for the illustrations, is riddled with factual error and omissions. It is best simply to read the descriptions of the items he has chosen from the National Archives and find the history of the times from a more reliable source.
This is not one of the first books to acquire for a collection dealing with the end of the Middle Ages but it is one which is a valuable curiosity. (less)
This is a most unpleasant book. It is badly written with no insight into the psyches of the persons with whom it deals. I gave up on it when the autho...moreThis is a most unpleasant book. It is badly written with no insight into the psyches of the persons with whom it deals. I gave up on it when the author referred to Richard of Gloucester as "the Little Duke". It is true he was no giant like his brother Edward nor so tall as his other brother George, but I doubt anyone during his time had the temerity to refer to him as 'little'.
This is the sort of book which appeals chiefly to the devotees of soppy, illiterate romance fiction. It is not a biography in the true sense of the word but a sort of beach book loosely based on a mostly unknown life. Bah! Not worth the time.(less)
I did not like this as well as "Sunne" mainly because of its incoherence. There is a lack of focus which seems to rise out of the material itself. The...moreI did not like this as well as "Sunne" mainly because of its incoherence. There is a lack of focus which seems to rise out of the material itself. The story wanders back and forth with neither side earning my allegiance. I did not like Joanna at all. She is a bit of a liar and a fool, not a proper follower to Eleanor of Aquitaine. I fear I am not really all that fond of great love stories and do not believe in happy ever after. I am sorry for this; I had looked forward to other of her books, now, I do not think so. (less)
This book gave me, a Ricardian, much pleasure. It is a rollicking and constantly compelling story of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, though the eyes of a...moreThis book gave me, a Ricardian, much pleasure. It is a rollicking and constantly compelling story of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, though the eyes of a loyal companion. My only complaint is the occasional usage of Australian slang. It is a bit distracting to find such language in fifteenth century England. (less)