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The Sunne in Splendour [Paperback]

Sharon Penman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 31 May 1984 --  

Book Description

31 May 1984
'The Sunne in Splendour' is a magnificent historical novel about Richard III. Set against a vast, colourful canvas it covers the whole period of The War of the Roses opening with Richard as a child of seven and following him through a turbulent youth and manhood to his betrayal and death at The Battle of Bosworth Field. The historical detail is brilliantly depicted and brings to life the atmosphere of the time with extraordinary immediacy and excitement.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (31 May 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140067647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140067644
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an American of Irish-English-Welsh heritage, and I currently live in New Jersey, although many of my readers imagine I am happily dwelling upon a Welsh mountaintop--but no such luck. I was once a tax lawyer, which I looked upon as penance for my sins. Like most writers, I was born with a love of the written word, although I never expected to be able to support myself as a writer; when you read about starving artists in their garrets, most of them have starving writers as roommates. But I was very lucky and I have been blessed to make my living as a writer for the past twenty-seven years or so. All of my novels--eleven at last count--are set in the Middle Ages, and focus upon England's most colorful dynasty, the Plantagenets. It is almost as if they lived their dramatic and often wildly improbable lives with future historical novelists in mind, and I am very grateful to them--especially to the Angevins,Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their equally famous children, known to their contemporaries as the Devil's Brood.

Product Description

About the Author

Sharon Penman is one of the most popular historical novelists writing today. Her bestselling story of Richard III, The Sunne in Splendour, was published in 1982 and her acclaimed Welsh trilogy, Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, was similarly successful. Time and Chance is the second in a trilogy that opened with When Christ and His Saints Slept (1994). Sharon Penman has travelled widely on both sides of the Atlantic researching her work. She lives in New Jersey.

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First Sentence
Richard did not become frightened until darkness began to settle over the woods. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best 30 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I read The White Queen by Philippa Gregory earlier in the year, I became intrigued by Richard III, the Wars of the Roses and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. The Sunne in Splendour was recommended to me as the best fictional account of Richard III, so I immediately bought a copy. As soon as I started reading I knew I was going to love this book. Not only did it turn out to be the best historical fiction book I've read for a long time, it was also one of the best books of any type that I've read this year.

The Sunne in Splendour tells the complete life story of Richard III from childhood to death. Penman portrays Richard as a sympathetic figure who has been unfairly treated by history. Sadly, he is often thought of today as the villain of Shakespeare's Richard III: the evil hunchback who murdered his nephews. It's worth remembering though, that Shakespeare lived in Tudor England - and it was Henry Tudor who defeated Richard, the last of the Plantagenet kings.

The Wars of the Roses is the term used to describe a series of battles and rebellions that took place between two branches of the English royal family, the House of York and the House of Lancaster, during the late fifteenth century. I already had some basic knowledge of the period before I started reading this book, but even if you don't I think Penman makes it easy enough to understand. Sometimes a story can suffer from the author's attempts to include every little bit of interesting information they've uncovered in their research, but that's not actually a problem here. Yes, there's an enormous amount of detail, but everything feels necessary and helps to build up a vivid picture of Richard's world.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic portrayal of Richard III 22 Jun 2010
This is Sharon Penman's first novel, and over the course of 900 pages she deals with the life and times of Richard of Gloucester, the man who was to become Richard III of England. History has not dealt kindly with Richard - Tudor propaganda has dealt him a cruel blow by making him out to be a deformed and evil man who was able to put his nephews to death and contemplate bedding his niece while his beloved wife lay close to death.

In this story, we follow the fortunes of the Yorkists from Richard's early life when Edward moved to claim the throne from Harry of Lancaster. Richard is written to be an intensely loyal and clever man, beloved by his elder brother and honoured by many positions of authority. It is easy to develop a strong sympathy for the character of Richard, which lends understanding to why he would then claim the throne after his brother's death.

The book looks at the events of the time through many character's eyes - including Francis Lovell, Richard's friend from childhood; Anne, destined to become Richard's cherished wife; and Bess, the first-born daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Woodville.

The strongest element of Penman's writing is her ability to draw vivid and realistic characters. From the pleasure-seeking Edward to his ambitious and conniving queen; from the dignified Cecily who watched four sons be buried to the arrogant and self-seeking Buckingham. None of the characters can be assigned a 'good' or 'bad' tag - all have very believable motives assigned to them, and you end up feeling huge empathy for why they might act the way they do.
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84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, Factual, and yet Human Drama 21 Aug 2002
The Sunne in Splendour is an incredible book. I have read all of Sharon Penman's novels, and thoroughly enjoyed all of them, but this is far and away my favourite. I think that Richard III has
had a terrible and undeserved reputation, and this book goes a long way to rectifying this. It is never trivial, or patronising, it just tells a completely different story to the one we have all been brought up to believe. Richard is not portrayed as a hunch-backed, uncaring monster, more as a man faced with unspeakable dilemmas, and no way out. I admit to having a soft spot for Richard Plantagenet, and I do feel that he has been treated very unfairly by history. However, this book enables him to have his say, and to try to put the record straight. He was betrayed, and the battle scene description at Bosworth Field, when he knew that treason had been committed, moved me to tears. This book doesn't just deal in facts, it also
gives the story from a more personal view, and that made it more appealing to me. I loved it. Read it, so will you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book 30 April 2008
This book is Sharon Penman's magnum opus - none of her other novels equal it in sheer size - and it is one of her best. I have read it so many times I have lost count, and it still moves me to tears in certain places. She plunges us into the midst of the Wars of the Roses, introducing us immediately to Richard, youngest son of Richard, Duke of York. In quick succession we meet the other sons of York - golden Edward, the eldest; quiet, more intense Edmund; and teasing George, closest in age to Richard himself. We are also introduced to their mother, Cecily Neville, one of the most admirable characters in the book - pious, intelligent, loving and deeply loyal to her family. Within a very short time we find ourselves observing the Battle of Wakefield and its awful aftermath from Edmund's point of view. Though Lancaster won the battle, it was a turning point for York, as Edward was flung into the spotlight by his father's death. A large part of the novel deals with Edward's reign as Edward IV, and Richard's interactions with him and with the other dominant figure of the period, his cousin, Warwick the Kingmaker. Penman shows Richard as the youth remaining loyal to his brother despite his fondness for the Nevilles and his love for Warwick's daughter, whom he later married after the conclusive battles of Barnet and Tewksbury re-established Edward on his throne. Rather than the hunchbacked, evil man of Shakepeare and Tudor historians' depictions, we are presented with a man dealing with conflicting loyalties, an able battle commander, deeply loving and utterly trusted by his older brother, who effectively gave the north of England into Richard's control.
It is after Edward's death that matters become complicated.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent Historical account
Published 1 hour ago by Grundy
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning book well worth the read
I loved this book A definite favourite, so well written, it is sympathetically written in Richard lll s favour but historically very correct, I shall read it again when I have... Read more
Published 15 hours ago by Carol O'Reilly
5.0 out of 5 stars a terrible oversight and as you are now no-doubt expecting
I am a reader, in fact my whole family are avid readers and this book is a remarkable one. Many yrs ago I was on my way to my Mums for Xmas bearing NO present. Read more
Published 15 hours ago by Stuart Dangerfield
5.0 out of 5 stars a plantagenet tour de force
a wonderful book i first read 27 years ago. sharon penman is an excellent author of historical fiction and i would recommend all of her books.
Published 16 hours ago by ann mcpike
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious beyond belief
Really could and should have been three hundred pages instead of this unnaturally prolonged ensemble piece focusing most of the time on everyone but the supposed central character;... Read more
Published 5 days ago by The green blivet
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic read. Only just found Sharon Penman but am already a big fan.
Published 6 days ago by Rachael
5.0 out of 5 stars incredibly descriptive
I loved this, but I love everything that Sharon Penman has written. Whilst writing, you feel involved with the characters and their feelings. most descriptive of medieval times.
Published 8 days ago by Terry Geller
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Bought as a present.
Published 15 days ago by Karen Butler
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding depth to characters
I first read this book in 1982 the year it was published. I still have my original rather dog eared copy and dip into it on a regular basis . Read more
Published 16 days ago by blondgranny
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read nothing else in historical fiction, please read this
As a discerning lover of historical fiction, I can't praise this story high enough. I bought this in paperback when it first came out in 1984. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Christine859
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