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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Portrayal of Richard III
I was not surprised to see in the author's notes that Tannahill recommended Charles Ross' biography of Richard III as a reliable nonfiction source because I had been reminded of his book the entire time I was reading hers. She does take a balanced, if sometimes dull, approach to Richard compared to many other modern authors who seem to paint him in an overly optimistic...
Published 7 months ago by Carpe Librum

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A workmanlike but bloodless version of Richard III
A lot of people think they know all about Richard III - whether he's the evil tyrant who killed the princes in the Tower and got his comeuppance, or the good king who was unjustly blamed and brutally slain - and for us historical fiction addicts it's a very well-worn story. Which means novelists have to work all the harder if they decide to re-tell it: the bar was set...
Published 13 months ago by Bookwoman


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A workmanlike but bloodless version of Richard III, 30 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III (Paperback)
A lot of people think they know all about Richard III - whether he's the evil tyrant who killed the princes in the Tower and got his comeuppance, or the good king who was unjustly blamed and brutally slain - and for us historical fiction addicts it's a very well-worn story. Which means novelists have to work all the harder if they decide to re-tell it: the bar was set very high, after all, when Sharon Penman wrote The Sunne in Splendour nearly twenty years before this book was published.
If I had to choose a word to describe this attempt it would be 'workmanlike'. She's done her best to clarify the complex politics and relationships of the Wars of the Roses with a family tree, an introduction and endnotes (although within the novel itself the explanations can get rather tangled and clunky), and she takes us through all the familiar events very efficiently. But all it boils down to is another straightforward account of the story, albeit her version. There's no attempt to do anything with it, to give it a new slant or focus, and compared to the Penman version it's very skimpy.
It strikes me as a book that was written to flesh out her theories about how and why Richard gained and then lost the throne. Her depiction of the plotting of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, and her two chief partners in crime, Cardinal Morton and Reginald Bray, is very convincing. She could be right - who knows? - but it doesn't make for a very compelling novel.
And her sober portrayal of Richard as a decent but hard man of his time, backed into a corner by circumstance and bad luck, is unrevealing and very two-dimensional, hardly the 'unique portrait' of a 'complex human being' we're promised in the blurb. The only other characters we get to know in any detail, his wife Anne and his friend Francis Lovell, don't fare any better. There are a lot of repetitive conversations between these same people: it's a very sparsely populated novel.
Sharon Penman isn't an author to everyone's taste, the romance and relationships can tend towards the soapy, and she's very pro-Richard. But, as Ms Tannahill herself says in her endnote, 'Richard was one of those charismatic personalities whom people either loved or hated'. So if you're going to turn his story into a novel, surely it demands something with a lot more passion and partisanship than this? Otherwise, why not just write an essay?
You'd definitely enjoy this a lot more if you'd never read a novel about this subject before, so perhaps I'm being unfair. And it could be worse - you could have started off with Philippa Gregory's 'Cousins at War' series, witches and all. But I found it - and excuse the pun, given all the blood that's spilled in this period of history - to be a very bloodless version of the story of Richard III.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Portrayal of Richard III, 14 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III (Paperback)
I was not surprised to see in the author's notes that Tannahill recommended Charles Ross' biography of Richard III as a reliable nonfiction source because I had been reminded of his book the entire time I was reading hers. She does take a balanced, if sometimes dull, approach to Richard compared to many other modern authors who seem to paint him in an overly optimistic light. He is "a man of his times," a loyal but realistic nobleman, a man who knows that you cannot allow weaknesses to appear if you are to take control.

While Tannahill's characterization was not the most enjoyable that I have read, it is quite possible that it is accurate. This fiction account takes into consideration known facts and varying theories about Richard and his motivations. I can accept that he was not the ideal man in every way, but do wish she had painted him as a more loving husband. He also seemed to fall apart a little too much at the death of his brother. Maybe too many bad decision, and other people's ability to manipulate him, were explained away by the fact that he "just wasn't himself yet."

What I enjoyed most about this book was the way Tannahill explained how and why events happened and people made decisions that they made. She may not be correct, of course, but she at least created a motivation that makes sense unlike some other authors who give us people betraying Richard and leave us wondering why. A couple of these incidents seemed a little far fetched - Elizabeth leaving sanctuary because she was bored and all of the negative propaganda coming from Reginald Bray - but for the most part her reasoning was compelling. It made sense why Richard could become so vilified when he began as such a honorable, dependable, well-liked brother of the King.

If you are looking for a romanticized defense of Richard III, look elsewhere. However, if you would like a fictional story that gives a moderate view of how known facts could have fallen into place, read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable take on Richard III, 28 Sep 2013
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Mrs. J. R. Larner "JetBlack" (Rayleigh, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Seventh Son (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Richard III's ascent to the throne and downfall at Bosworth. He was portrayed as a human being, with faults and virtues, as have we all! It was quite fast paced and the personalities of the main protagonists were interesting. I especially liked the portrayal of Richard and Anne's relationship - it wasn't idealised, but was nevertheless tender at times and felt very "real" !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best novel on Richard I have read so far, 3 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III (Paperback)
The writers interpretation of the subject was so clear especially as to Richard's character, and his relationship with his wife Anne. Lot of research obvoiusly done and as I say, it is the best novel on the subject I have ever read. Having very recently visited Bosworth Battlefield, I could almost feel Richard's tragedy at having lost those so called friends to whom he had entrusted his faith. Unfortunatley not everyone was as truly loyal as Richard was and he was subsequently slaughtered because of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 21 Nov 2013
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Mrs. G. Beswick (Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III (Paperback)
It's not as good as "The Sunne in Splendour", but still an enjoyable read. I recommend it to those who like historical novels, and those who want the true story of Richard III
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very worthwhile read!, 6 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III (Paperback)
King Richard III is beautifully portrayed in this book, with great honesty and sensitivity, and rightly so. All Ms. Tannahill's books are to be respected but The Seventh Son is a particular joy to read, and a must for all Ricardians! She has an easy way of involving you in the time and period and the art of encouraging you to read on - yes a real 'page turner'!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Seventh Son, 30 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Seventh Son (Kindle Edition)
Enjoyable. Here Richard's marriage is not written as a love story but more as one of close friendship .but not an unhappy partnership
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting outlook on Richard III as a man, 17 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III (Paperback)
This novel gives an interesting outlook on Richard III as a man, dealing with historical accounts and reaching beyond the Tudor and shakesperean propaganda. The first part of the novel is not entirely consistent with the apparent goal of the writer: dialogues between Anne and Richard sound sometimes too modern while their relationship is based on medieval man and wife model and does not take into account their childhood years that must have had an effect on the apparent tenderness between them emerging from the few historical surviving records. The second part of the book relates events and circumstances leading to Richard's taking of the English throne in a plausible and effective way and the reader is made to at least understand, if not justify, Richard's motives for his actions.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The real Richard?, 10 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III (Paperback)
I found this book enjoyable and would imagine that Richard was actually a lot like the one portrayed.Ricardians will like it.
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The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III
The Seventh Son: A Unique Portrait of Richard III by Reay Tannahill (Paperback - 28 Feb 2013)
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