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The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III [Paperback]

Reay Tannahill
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Aug 2002

The greatest prize and the most deadly - the crown of England

Reay Tannahill's enthralling novel is a family saga in the grand tradition, a tale of brother against brother, cousin against cousin, of love, hate and intrigue, of women inescapably entangled in the fates of their men, and of a mystery that has exercised people's minds for more than five hundred years.

At the heart of it all is the complex human being known to history as Richard III, a king whose reign is darkened by the murder of the young Princes in the Tower, but who also found a touching love with the woman he married, and possessed immense courage. Here, brought vividly to life in this most moving novel, is a man who inspired loyalty and hatred in almost equal measure, until at last the implacable enmity of one woman brought about his downfall.

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; New Ed edition (19 Aug 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747268495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747268499
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.1 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 772,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The book cries out to be made into a TV serial, every bit as compelling as ELIZABETH R or the version of Robert Graves's CLAUDIUS books (The Scotsman)

A hugely enjoyable read (Glasgow Herald)

Tannahill's Richard is complicated, ruthless, sometimes troubled, but no plaster saint (The Scotsman)

Enthralling...a highly satisfying story (Pocklington Post)

Book Description

A brilliant novel about England's most enigmatic king, Richard III

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
There are two entrenched views of Richard III, one as the bloody tyrant as portrayed by Shakespeare, and one as the deliberate antithesis as depicted by Josephine Tey. Both of these are basically unbelievable, so it is refreshing to encounter Ms Tannahill's very real flesh and blood rendering of this mysterious King. She brings to Richard's story a keen eye for detail and a rich appreciation of the Machiavellian English Court in which he lived. This helps to give substance and reality to his enigmatic reign. There is also a convincing arc to the characterisation that explains how Richard could turn from a dedicated brother and unambitious Lord to an intransigent King. It also describes convincingly his relationships to Anne, his wife and his vain elder brother the Duke of Clarence, fleshing out these otherwise poorly known historical characters.
This book is also a must-read for anyone who has ever pondered the fate of the Princes in the Tower. Tannahill's reconstruction is unique and convincing. A page-turner that is also a rich and satisfying dip into the late-medieval world, I can thoroughly recommend this book.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Tastes differ and anyone who loves a nice wallow in traditionally lush romance isn't going to go for Reay Tannahill, who is modern and grown-up aand really knows her history, though she doesn't force it down the reader's throat. I found Tannahill's characters both real and touching, her writing smooth and elegant, even humorous (why is it so rare for historical novelists to have a sense of humour?), and the book as a whole more illuminating than anything else I have ever read about Richard. Tannahill doesn't use fake period dialogue. thank goodness, and tho' she doesn't think Richard was a villain, she doesn't try and make a romantic hero out of him either. I found this a very intelligent and enjoyable book, anything but dull, and would recomend it to anyone who prefers historical reality to romantic fantasy. The 'historical end notes' are almost as rewarding as the novel itself. I am now going straight off to read her Mary Queen of Scots book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Historical Fiction 17 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This a brilliant book. Not only does it stick closely to the little that is known about Richard III but it also makes you feel sympathy for the characters. The Historical endnote is very useful too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Misfit TOP 1000 REVIEWER
How nice to have a novel with a realistic, well rounded Richard instead of the pure and saintly one we're always finding in the latest and *cough* greatest historical novels. Tannahill begins her novel in 1471 as Richard is planning to marry Anne Neville and recounts his life until that fateful day at Bosworth. Most of this is known history and enough reviewers have recounted what's covered in the book I needn't rehash it again.

As noted earlier, what I most enjoyed was the more life-like Richard - although depicted as an honorable man he was still very much a man of his times and ruthless when he needed to be. I really enjoyed how the relationship between Richard and Anne slowly developed during their marriage, instead of the pure as the driven snow instantaneous true love we're always seeing these days. Outside of Francis, none of the other main players are as fully developed as you might find in some other novels on this period, but at the same time you're not getting all black and white - everyone has their shades of gray - even Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth Woodville - a very refreshing change.

All in all I found this to be a very enjoyable read, although Tannahill's dry wit and sarcasm may not appeal to all readers. Still tops with me for books on Richard III is still Sharon Kay Penman's fabulous The Sunne in Splendour, but it's always fun to read another author's take on the always enigmatic Richard and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. Four stars.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to make an exciting story dull 10 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This attempt to tell Richard III's story offers no new insights and disappoints as a novel. It fails to engage the reader's emotions or imagination: the storytelling is wooden, there's no atmosphere, little sense of period or setting, and the main characters are so flat that even Richard doesn't leap off the page. The novel reads like sketchy narrative history with some (often astonishingly trite) dialogue thrown in. I don't believe Reay Tannahill's heart was in it. And as a result, neither is mine. In my opinion it doesn't even begin to rival Patrick Carleton's Under the Hog or Rosemary Hawley Jarman's We Speak No Treason.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best 18 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This is historical fiction at its best. Reay Tannahill has taken one of the most famous stories we know and created a novel which grips from the first page. Her expertise as a historian is evident throughout, and her skills as a famous novelist make this an enthralling and very moving story. Above all, she makes complete sense of the actions of Richard III and shows how the events in his life influenced his motives and character. You finish the novel feeling you have learnt from it, whilst exhausted from the roller-coaster of emotions experienced whilst reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Balanced portrayal of Richard III 1 Nov 2012
A rounded portrayal of Richard III as neither the evil bloodthirsty devil depicted by Sir Thomas More and William Shakespeare or the glowing saint of the Richard III Society, Rosemary Hawley Jarman and Sharon Kay Penman. It is strong in dialogue and descriptiveness but somewhat rushed and not quite as engaging as The Sunne in Splendour which is more detailed and fully fleshed out

This novel while exhibiting a certain gritty realism, is not quite as colourful or exciting. Everything here just happens too quickly-for example his Queen Anne is vivacious and engaging and two pages later has died of consumption, similarly before that the death of Edward takes place very abruptly. Starts after the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 in which Henry VI faced his final defeat and the Earl of Warwick was killed. Ends on the battlefield with the valiant charge of Richard against his myriad enemies, and his death at the hands of a thousand enemy soldiers.
Presents Richard as scheming and cerebral but capable of love and loyalty. He is absolved here of the death of the princes in the tower but seems to have had no love lost for them
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange style of writing - but i liked it after i got into it.
This book is a little bit odd I felt in the style of the writing - having said that after I got used to it did really enjoy it. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2011 by F. Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
As a fan of serious historical novels, I really wanted to read something on Richard III. Unfortunately this book proved to be the wrong one for me, and I gave up before I got half... Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2011 by Amaret
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm
Well, i am half way through this book and i am still completely uninvolved in the plot, not that there is a plot as such. Read more
Published on 22 April 2010 by BermondseyStu
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and unsentimental, with a sense of humour and a spunky Anne!
I was a bit reluctant to read this book; I'd quite lazily grown fond of the saintly Richard who stars in so many books about this period and didn't particularly want my illusions... Read more
Published on 26 April 2008 by Morena
3.0 out of 5 stars in too much of a hurry
The way this book comes across is a though the author was in a great hurry just to get the book finished. The characters are two dimensional, with little depth. Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2008 by S. HADAVI
1.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I finished this terrible book
As I once wrote something like a quarter of one, I feel able to make some comments on what it's like to write a novel about Richard III. Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2007 by S. Bailey
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time and money
I don't usually read historical fiction: I read this book because I like to read anything about Richard III - one of England's most contraversial and enigmatic kings. Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2006 by BookAddictUK
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best
I keep thinking I must give up reading historical fiction as I so often find it frustrating and inaccurate - but Reay Tannerhill must be an exception. Read more
Published on 7 Dec 2004 by Mrs. D. J. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars An easily readable and open-minded approach to Richard III
I must confess that my knowledge of the Middle Ages is very limited. It is one of those periods in history where a few bells ring but not loud enough for me to be in a position to... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2004 by Juan
5.0 out of 5 stars The Seventh Son
Having read Fatal Majesty by Miss Tannahill, I was rather sceptical of her being able to write two good historical novels. Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2003 by Ms. P. H. Clague
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