27 February 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of Henry : by Tony Riches

AMAZON UK £2.99 £8.99
AMAZON US $4.10 $12.99 

Biographical / military

Bosworth 1485: After victory against King Richard III, Henry Tudor becomes King of England. Rebels and pretenders plot to seize his throne. The barons resent his plans to curb their power and he wonders who he can trust. He hopes to unite Lancaster and York through marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth of York. 

With help from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he learns to keep a fragile peace. He chooses a Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon, as a wife for his son Prince Arthur. His daughters will marry the King of Scotland and the son of the Emperor of Rome. It seems his prayers are answered, then disaster strikes and Henry must ensure the future of the Tudors. 

In his Author’s Note at the end of this novel, Tony Riches says he spent three years researching and reading about the early Tudors, and in  Henry, Book Three The Tudor Trilogy he has brought history to life. The novel reads very much like a docu-drama: we see events through Henry VII 's eyes, but details are solidly grounded in research and the reader ‘visits’ the places and palaces where the real man lived and walked, and schoolroom history occurred.

Riches’ depiction of Henry Tudor, father of the more famous or infamous Henry VIII, is as a quiet, inward-looking man, full of doubt yet also full of ambition. By marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of a family who are rival claimants to the throne, Henry intends to unite England and Wales and bring peace to a nation torn apart by internecine strife. He has his work cut out. This is a time of tremendous uncertainty and ‘pretenders’ to the throne seem come two-a-penny. It makes for an unsettling situation. Henry, not a flamboyant or charismatic man like Edward of York, is constantly beset by real and perceived threats to his monarchy.

The book opens with the outcome of the Battle of Bosworth Field and closes with Henry’s death in 1509, taking the reader through some of the best and worst of his reign, and in the process giving us the childhood and adolescent years of his larger than life son, who from an early age demonstrated the more visible skills that would overshadow his quieter, more politic and sensible father. We also see the strong relationship between Henry and his wife, how they adored all their children and suffered at the tragic deaths of a baby and the heir to the throne, Arthur. We witness how Henry relies on his mother, Margaret Beaufort, a somewhat conniving woman although not the power-hungry she-wolf so often depicted, whose sound council enables him to make some difficult choices.

The author’s quiet style is perfectly matched to the character of Henry Tudor. The prose, somewhat flat at times, is nevertheless well-suited to the subject. This book is a thought-provoking portrait of a wise, caring man who does not want to rule yet whose actions and decisions laid the foundations for a dynasty and a strong, politically powerful and wealthy nation. This is a very good book for anyone wanting to know more about the early Tudors.

© J.G. Harlond

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