Margaret of Anjou (The Wars of the Roses #2)
by Conn Iggulden
From Goodreads: The brilliant retelling of the Wars of the Roses continues with Margaret of Anjou, the second gripping novel in the new series from historical fiction master Conn Iggulden.
As traitors advance . . . a queen defends.
It is 1454 and for more than a year King Henry VI has remained all but exiled in Windsor Castle, struck down by his illness, his eyes vacant, his mind blank. His fiercely loyal wife and queen, Margaret of Anjou, safeguards her husband’s interests, hoping that her son Edward will one day come to know his father.
With each month that Henry is all but absent as king, Richard, the duke of York, protector of the realm, extends his influence throughout the kingdom. A trinity of nobles–York and Salisbury and Warwick–are a formidable trio and together they seek to break the support of those who would raise their colors and their armies in the name of Henry and his queen.
But when the king unexpectedly recovers his senses and returns to London to reclaim his throne, the balance of power is once again thrown into turmoil. The clash of the Houses of Lancaster and York may be the beginning of a war that could tear England apart . . .
Following Stormbird, Margaret of Anjou is the second epic installment in master storyteller Conn Iggulden’s new Wars of the Roses series. Fans of the Game of Thrones and the Tudors series will be gripped from the word “go.”
The synoposis is not wrong. I think fans of Game of Thrones (or A Song of Ice and Fire, if you’re talking about the books) would like this series. It’s full of political intrigue, battles, and spies, though there aren’t any dragons. I’m okay with the lack of dragons.
I’ve read about the history of the Wars of the Roses, I’ve watched the Shakespearean plays based on this time period, and I even watched the wretched The White Queen tv show that made witchcraft into a thing that actually worked (what…?).
Someone needs to stop turning Philippa Gregory’s books into television shows, and turn to Conn Iggulden instead. It’s one thing to read in the history books about battles and casualty counts, and who wrote what edict and when. It’s quite another to have someone write a vivid novelization of the whole affair, where you come to like and care about a character, only to have them cruelly cut down in battle. I even respected Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York who is presented as something of a villain, but he loves his country and has grown so frustrated with how Queen Margaret and her faction have ruled the country that he rises against them to ‘free his King from the wicked councilors who surround him’.
You have to respect Margaret, too, though. She came to England as a slip of a fourteen year old girl, and now, years later, she has a backbone of steel and is capable of raising an army to defend her husband, King Henry VI and secure her son Edward’s position as heir to the English throne.
There are too many things going on to summarize this book in a couple of paragraphs, and you could check the Wikipedia page if you want a summary of the dynastic wars that spanned generations and ended up giving us the Tudor dynasty.
Suffice it to say that Conn Iggulden has written another fantastic book that is fast-paced and full of action, but isn’t lacking in real human emotion, either. Take the queen, for example: as the years of Henry VI’s illness progress, Margaret’s love for him withers, and her motivation to fight moves away from him to protecting her son’s rights. The various houses are still at each other’s throats, there are betrayals, men who are loyal to the death, and overall brilliant prose that doesn’t let up or let you go.
And I don’t even mind that Iggulden will switch point of view from one character to the next without warning.
I already have to next book waiting for me on my bookshelf, and I look forward to getting started.
** Note, Margaret of Anjou is also titled Trinity, a fact that confused the heck out of me when I was looking through the books at the library.