Author: Conn Iggulden, 2013.
Genre: Historical Fiction. 15th Century England.
Other Details: Hardback. 507 pages.
King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead.
In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king - Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom. Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England's territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.
As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what can save the kingdom before it is too late? - synopsis from author's website.
I certainly enjoyed this first in a series about the Wars of the Roses. The characters are well fleshed out and the narrative moves between the nobles and their allies and the common folk caught up in the changes brought about in France as well as the Kent Rebellion: an event I had only known a little about before reading this novel. The battle scenes are well written, very visceral and it is easy to feel right in the middle of the action.
My only slight criticism is the way the list of characters was presented at the start. The family trees were fine but the list itself had no organisation to it: such as listing by first appearance or by family. However, the complex politics and blood lines that opened the conflict between the Yorks and Lancasters were laid out in an accessible fashion. In the end notes Conn Iggulden explained where he used some creative license such as the creation of the fictional spymaster Derry Brewer.
I look forward to others in this series as they appear in coming years.