Loyalty Binds Meby Joan Szechtman
While on a pilgrimage to London to visit his first wife, Anne's tomb in Westminster Abbey, Richard III is arrested for a 500 year-old murder. He must now protect his blended family and defend himself without revealing his true identity.
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In the novel, This Time by Joan Szechtman, Richard III and his son, Edward, were brought into the 21st Century by scientists who invented a time machine financed by a wealthy businessman who yearns to be accepted as a Ricardian scholar. Richard marries the scientist who originally created the undeveloped time machine and her daughters come to cherish Richard as the solid, caring father they never had. As this new story begins, the family has traveled to England to pay their respects as a family to Richard's first wife and Edward's mother, Anne, at Westminster Abbey. It's a journey complicated by the fact that Edward is trying to cope with a new family and living in a totally different world, and Sarah and the girls are still moving through their own family adjustments. These insecurities lurking below the surface are about to be stretched to the limit! On their arrival in London, Richard is accosted by British authorities who tell him he is about to be charged with the murder of Edward IV's "missing Princes," as they have come to be called throughout history. The accusation initially strikes the reader as ludicrous, until British and American agents, a dynamic British journalist, a Ricardian lawyer, and other characters become intimately connected with this family who just want to be left alone to grow as the loving family they are becoming. When the allegations change to something even more drastic, the unfolding scenario becomes intricately complex because of the mixed motives emerging that tell a totally different story, one packed with suspense, intrigue, and even violence. Loyalty Binds Me is a credible, finely plotted historical mystery that encompasses all possible theories about Richard III's motives and acts in the 16th Century. It also challenges the traditionally accepted Shakespearean depiction of this "distorted" King and provokes readers to challenge historical interpretation in an intelligent, dynamic, and adventurous way. Well-researched and well-written, Loyalty Binds Me is an exciting, surprising, yet sensitive novel that will delight every reader appreciative of excellent historical and time-travel fiction.
The first book of this series was mostly about Richard III adapting to life in this century. While the action took place in contemporary times, it integrated historical facts and, in the case of much of what Shakespeare has many believing, corrected historical fiction. In "Loyalty Binds Me," the subtle historical teaching is still taking place, but the plot is closer to a thriller than the science fiction mixed with history tutorial the first time out. The characters had me emotionally invested even more than I might have been, because they were old friends from reading "This Time." That helped draw me into the thriller portion of the plot. Szechtman does an excellent job of integrating the historical with the contemporary, including some strange twists, with Richard III’s arrest for lawbreaking alleged to have happened five hundred years previously. I liked the story, the “big picture,” of "Loyalty Binds Me," but what I liked even more is in the details. As I’m reading a book for review I’ll highlight errors of the kind that should have been caught during the copyediting and proofing process. I’ll also highlight and make notes about things that jump out at me as especially good or bad. When I reviewed my notes from "Loyalty Binds Me" I had exactly one “typo” type error I’d caught, a “you” that I thought should have been a “your.” The rest of the notes were about something Szechtman got right that very few Indie authors seem to pull off. That is getting the language right when there is a mix of characters who would speak different flavors of English. The best example is comparing Sarah (Richard III’s wife) who is American and says, “she probably would be in the hospital there” while an English character asks, “do you know why she’s in hospital.” This is a subtle usage difference between English and American speakers. Szechtman also recognized that Richard would have to cross a lane of traffic to make a right hand turn. It’s possible I might have missed something since my native language, as Szechtman’s, is American English, but I spotted enough instances that could have easily been wrong to be confident there are few, if any. Inattention to these little things can jar a reader out of a story. When done right it makes for a smooth and pleasant read. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Richard III. What's the first thing that comes to mind? Drowning little boys in a vat of wine? A hunched back that makes dogs bark at him? Lie, cheat, steal his way to the throne of England? I've got news for you. There's a whole Ricardian Society that defends Richard III claiming he's not the horrible person portrayed by Will Shakespeare. Ms. Szechtman gives the readers Richard's side of the story with a lovely device. She has Richard transported into the 20th Century where he attempts to live like a normal man. Unfortunately for Richard, the statute of limitations on murder is forever. He finds himself arrested for the murder of the princes. This is a spellbinding book. Very original idea and handled well both historically and as a speculative fiction. I was lucky to get an advance copy of the book. I've discovered recently that Loyalty Binds Me is now aailable at the usual outlets. I recommend it to readers of historical fiction and speculative fiction. It's a nice blend of both.
This novel, the sequel to 'This Time' in which Richard III is saved from Bosworth Field and brought to 2004, continues the story of Richard Gloucestre and his wife Sarah. They take their children to England for Richard and his son, Edward, to visit Anne's grave and bring closure to their 15th century lives. Shortly after their arrival, Richard is arrested for the murder of his nephews. With this premise, I assumed that there would be more travel into the past. I was wrong. Richard is arrested in 2006 for an alleged 1483 murder, making this novel more of a contemporary legal drama with a sci-fi twist than historical fiction. Once again, not much is said about Richard's past beyond the basics, and no mysteries are solved. Richard could just as easily be anybody brought from the past because the focus is on the technology, not his story. My biggest issue in this series is the author's tendency to repeat characters' thoughts and words. Admittedly, this is the way people truly think and speak, but it is not the way authors usually write. It is a delicate balance to keep dialogue realistic to the reader but not as repetitive as our speech truly tends to be. If Richard "pinched the bridge of his nose" one more time...... Once again, a nervous habit could have been established without repeating the exact same sentence so many times. Characters' emotions swung quickly from "I'm going to kill you" to "Forgive me" in a way that was a little two-dimensional and unrealistic but did keep the story quick paced. The Jew vs Christian debate does not carry on in this book from the last, and Richard does resort to prayer though neither he nor his son seem to embrace their faith the way they would have in their time. Sarah, who adamantly defends her Jewish faith, doesn't seem to even have that but rather holds a faith in science and medicine. However, the issue of faith was not the great issue in this book that it was in the first. The attitude that you would expect to show up in Richard III came out a little more in this novel than the first one. He is intelligent and has a difficult time accepting those in authority over himself in a way that makes sense for one accustomed to being the top authority. Only when he is said to cry or be near crying a few more times did I want to point out that this was a medieval king, not a sensitive 21st century guy. Overall, an interesting premise, but I wish that the author had spent more time in the past and giving her theories on Richard III's mysteries.
This was an excellent second installment in this series depicting a fictional scenario where Richard III is saved at the last moment during the battle of Bosworth and transported to the 21st century. I'm looking forward to the next novel with great anticipation.