Meghan's Reviews > The Sunne in Splendour

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
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Nov 08, 11

Read in October, 2011

I loved this story. All 944 pages of it. I could not put it down! I had no prior knowledge of Richard the III of England and with all historical fiction I am now interested in finding out more about him. This book spans the life of Richard III from a boy of 4 or 5 years to his death. It speaks of his childhood influences, his family, of love, of the high stakes of political intrigue, of exile, of kingship, of loss, of battles and of death.

The average person could related to this portrayal of Richard. He is young when his brother, Edward or York, deposes the King from the house of Lancaster. Richard is most trusted by his brother and struggles at first with the responsibilities given him and then rises to accomplish all supremely. He has a rigid sense of principle and is in love with a girl from his childhood. I loved his relationship with Anne and his devotion to her.

This book is an excellent source to experience what medieval England was like. The throne of England changed hands numerous times and it is also an excellent way to understand the dangers of political intrigue. If one has blood lines closely related to Kings, how exactly does one go about vying for the throne? Who funds these treasonous plans? Why is it in their interest? When it all comes down to the battlefield, how do the Lords, Earls, and Dukes and those at court play a role? These people went all or nothing... the throne or death. Each time there was a power grab for the throne, one side or the other did face death.

Marriage in England in the 1400's? I knew women of high-born families were used as a tool by their families to make alliances or cement peace between countries or between families, but wow... women really got the short end of the stick! Imagine having to marry someone to cement a precarious alliance because your father decides to betray his family and support the enemy - the enemy you were taught to hate all growing up? Imagine your new husband going to battle against those you love, wanting and willing to kill them? Imagine having to marry a man who killed the man you were in love with? But, on the other hand women did have political power as well. The main enemy to the house of York was a woman, Marguerite d'Anjou. The bane of Richard's existence was Elizabeth Woodville. Both women could not obtain power for themselves, but they both had ambition and the means to gather support to the cause in the name of their children.

An excellent, excellent book. Highly recommended!
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