Iggulden's (The Emperor Series) latest exploration of the past hearkens back to 1443 during a transitional time for England. King Henry VI is nicknamed "The Lamb" because he is known more for his prayers than fortitude, and his advisors fret the French might realize Henry doesn't have the backbone that his father had and could launch an attack. Derihew "Derry" Brewer a close advisor, devises a plan to marry the King to a young, elite French woman to bring about a peace treaty, despite losing land in the process and angering the English, who had fought for it years before. The King's intended, 14-year-old Margaret of Anjou turns out to be a strong woman. As she settles into her new role, a rebellion is led by the outraged English against France's King Charles, dissolving peace between the countries. Henry's throne and the country is thrown into peril with threats from all directions. Iggulden's meticulous research brings history to life, especially with Margaret, showing how a mere child can be transformed into a determined royal. (July)
Iggulden (The Blood of Gods, 2013, etc.) rallies dukes and barons, archers and peasants, schemers and warriors in this first in a trilogy chronicling the 15th-century War of the Roses.Henry VI, only 22, assumes England's crown; he's "a dear white lamb to lead us in prayer"—the opposite of his warrior father—and he mystically believes hours of prayer keep France at bay. "Bring me a truce, Derry," he commands Master Derihew Brewer, once an archer and now the king's spymaster. Brewer brokers a treaty with France's King Charles and Duke René of Anjou for the marriage of the duke's daughter, 14-year-old Margaret, to Henry in return for the English-held lands of Anjou and Maine. Powerful warrior royals like Richard, Duke of York, are opposed. Others, like William, Lord Suffolk, are ambivalent but loyal to the crown. The marriage is made, English protection is withdrawn, and the farms and settlements in Maine and Anjou become prey to the French. Worse, the collapse of those betrayed English bastions causes violent unrest in England. Giving color to various scenes and schemes, Iggulden skillfully depicts bloody clashes as English settlers fight, then retreat from Maine, Anjou and Normandy into Calais, followed by action-packed and nerve-racking street fighting when rebellious Kentish Freemen march into London. With Suffolk dead, the precociously intelligent and courageous Queen Margaret, along with other loyal lords, relies on Brewer's scheming to secure the physically weak and emotionally damaged Henry. An heir is needed. Other lords conspire to name York Protector and Defender of the Realm. Iggulden superbly dissects the dogfight among Edward Longshanks' descendants, but he also creates memorable fictional characters—in addition to Brewer, there's Thomas Woodchurch, an English archer-turned-Anjou wool merchant drawn back to the bow.Capturing the stink and gore, violence and romance of medieval life, Iggulden makes real those grand characters who live in the collective memory. A page-turner sure to have readers eager for the next in the series.
“It’s been said that Game of Thrones is the Wars of the Roses written as fantasy: this is the real thing, more glorious [and] more passionate.”—M. C. Scott, author of Rome: The Emperor’s Spy
“Capturing the…violence and romance of medieval life, Iggulden makes real those grand characters who live in the collective memory.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Great pacing, fascinating people, and vibrant descriptions make this a must read!”—Historical Novel Review
The start of another historical series for Iggulden features not a notable figure such as Ghengis Khan or Julius Caesar, but the array of kings and power brokers who afflicted 15th-century England. Henry VI, weak minded and weak willed, is manipulated into trading the English territories of Maine and Anjou for a French bride. The landowners there resist, as back home Richard of York maneuvers to be the power behind the throne. Protecting the unsuspecting king are his new wife, a few other lords of the realm, and Derihew Brewer, the king's spymaster. On top of this, a peasant revolt surges out of Kent toward London, threatening the monarchy itself. VERDICT Several of the well-drawn characters, especially the dashing, totally fictional Brewer, stand out to carry the narrative. The action swings back and forth between political intrigue and the brutal clashes of armies and mobs. And this is just the beginning. Fortunately for readers unfamiliar with the intricacies of this 50-year political melee, Iggulden's easy-to-follow take on the War of the Roses will keep followers of the old English royals completely engrossed. Bernard Cornwell fans will also enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 2/15/14.]—W. Keith McCoy, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ