Orsolya's Reviews > Royal Blood: King Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes

Royal Blood by Bertram Fields
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Aug 09, 12

bookshelves: history, library, wars-of-the-roses, own, richard-iii
Read from August 08 to 09, 2012

If the Princes in the Tower were Hollywood actors, their disappearance would be a scandal for the ages. Who am I kidding? Their death at the hands of their uncle Richard III (supposedly) is a scandal and is my favorite real-life mystery. Bertram Fields, an entertainment lawyer, breaks down the case using court/trial analysis in “Royal Blood”.

“Royal Blood” is a very unique piece, combining a traditional history portrait with a modern-day courtroom breakdown. Fit for both new-comers to the topic (as “Royal Blood” thoroughly retells the background from the “Wars of the Roses” onward to Henry VII’s reign) and for those well-versed on the subject (a great refresher course); “Royal Blood” is an engaging work which will satisfy most readers. Admittedly, Bertram’s work can be overwhelming with its extreme detail and is not an “easy” work in the sense that light reading is encouraged in order to truly retain all of Bertram’s “investigation”.

Bertram’s research is truly remarkable resulting in many “a-ha!” moments and alternative views which the reader may not previously have considered. Bertram examines every area possible from biases of historians (both contemporary and modern), motives of those surrounding Richard and the Princes, wording of documents and quotes, dates and alibis, etc. Although Bertram doesn’t come across new facts per se; it feels like he does because of his exposed angles. Even the actual figures involved would learn about their own actions, having read “Royal Blood”!

My complaint with “Royal Blood” is that although Bertram doesn’t display outright biases, it is quite evident throughout that he is pro-Ricardian as his presentation of Richard’s opposition is weak in comparison. Not to mention, there are moments when Richard displays ruthless ambition and behavior which the opposing parties could question but Bertram just glosses over it.

Another annoying aspect is Bertram’s constant bashing and attempts to discredit Alison Weir’s book on the Princes. I understand the “love it or hate it” support (or lack thereof) of Weir, but the constant mentions were tedious. Is Bertram writing a book simply to harass Weir or to instead investigate the disappearance of the Princes? Sometimes, one can’t tell and Bertram seems childish.

There are also moments when Bertram repeats himself several times in one section to make sure his point is made. This loses reader attention and some credibility (we get it, already!).

Despite these complaints, the pace of “Royal Blood” is strong and even with its depth of information, is accessible and easy to understand by a modern reader. Although Bertram is not a historian, it is impressive how much he knows about the topic. I was pleasantly surprised as I was worried about his credibility. Then again, he never called himself an expert, so the reader has to take it with a grain of salt, anyway.

One of the highlights in “Royal Blood” is the chapter on Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. This is one of my favorite areas and Bertram satisfies with a well-layered stripping, exploring many theories. Bertram continues to make astounding yet simple points (I had many regrets of “Why didn’t I think of that?!”) until the very end including such topics as Richard’s supposed humpback and the identity of the bones thought to be that of the Princes. Bertram’s theories are clear, rational, and make sense throughout.

Personally, I was let down by the lack of direct quotes (very rare) and a proper notes or bibliography section (notes were absent and the bibliography was very limited). This will not gratify the reader who likes to check historical notation.

Whether you are for or against Richard, Bertram’s “Royal Princes” is a terrific read to receive an all-around understanding of the Princes of the Tower and will definitely spark further debate or thought from the reader in a very creative and unique way.
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Reading Progress

08/08/2012 page 223
63.0% "Quite a satisfying chunk on Perkin Warbeck." 3 comments

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Rio (Lynne) (new)

Rio (Lynne) Did you see the video someone had posted awhile ago where a Law School did this case? It was fascinating. It was about 2 hours and I was hooked.


Misfit I thought this was interesting reading as well. Weir sure does take a beating though.


Orsolya Rio (Lynne) wrote: "Did you see the video someone had posted awhile ago where a Law School did this case? It was fascinating. It was about 2 hours and I was hooked."

No, I haven't!! Do you have a link?


Orsolya Misfit wrote: "I thought this was interesting reading as well. Weir sure does take a beating though."


She sure did! It was a bit much for me, though. I don' t like too much bashing. I like to focus on the matter at hand.


message 5: by Anna (new)

Anna Very interesting review :-)


Orsolya Good interesting or bad interesting? ha


message 7: by Rio (Lynne) (new)

Rio (Lynne) I'm looking for the link. Can't find it. I'll keep looking. I had posted it on GRs once. Someone had it in a group.


Misfit Rio (Lynne) wrote: "I'm looking for the link. Can't find it. I'll keep looking. I had posted it on GRs once. Someone had it in a group."

I think it's in the R3 group. Off to hunt it down.


message 9: by Anna (new)

Anna Haha, good interesting; thorough, informative and unbiased :-) I'll definitely be on the lookout for this book.

I'd be interested in that link too.


message 10: by Rio (Lynne) (new)

Rio (Lynne) The link I found in the R3 group was a different case. The one I watched was 1:45 (1 video) it was a US law school putting it on. I can't find it anywhere!


Misfit How about this? I can't play the video at work, nor do I have speakers anyway. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/76...


message 12: by Anna (last edited Aug 09, 2012 01:16PM) (new)

Anna I've just played the first couple of minutes and it looks like the right one, Misfit. I've just put it in my Favourites for when I can find the time to watch it all :-)


message 13: by Rio (Lynne) (new)

Rio (Lynne) That's it Misfit! Great Job! Thank you for finding it.


Orsolya Anna wrote: "Haha, good interesting; thorough, informative and unbiased :-) I'll definitely be on the lookout for this book.

I'd be interested in that link too."


Thank you for the kind words :)


Orsolya Thanks Misfit for the link! For those of you who want to watch the video, the nitty gritty doesn't really begin until about 20 minutes in so you can safely skip to this mark.

I find the video interesting although I was expecting some more passioante arguing (the students seemed nervous but that can be expected). Although I think this book but better than the video; it was certainly fun to watch. I wish I would have had a mock Richard III trial while in college (then again, I wasn't a History major).


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