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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best incursion into novel writing
I am a huge admirer of Alison Weir and have read most of her books. She is an eminent historian so I was a bit surprised that she had ventured into the realm of the historical novel, although it may be more lucrative than writing pure history. This book was, to my mind, her best in the novel genre. It was absolutely fascinating, as much as anything, because I knew...
Published 23 months ago by Mrs. Jean D. Andrews

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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm surprised that even the author made it to the end of this one
Looking up Alison Weir's biography I see that we're about the same age, and as lovers of history and historical novels I bet we've read the same sort of books in similar quantities over the years. So all credit to her for ploughing through to the end of this one without giving up out of sheer boredom - I know I nearly did.
Her fans have given this latest effort four...
Published 13 months ago by Bookwoman


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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best incursion into novel writing, 11 Aug 2012
By 
Mrs. Jean D. Andrews "Rescator Corse" (Staplehurst, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Dangerous Inheritance (Kindle Edition)
I am a huge admirer of Alison Weir and have read most of her books. She is an eminent historian so I was a bit surprised that she had ventured into the realm of the historical novel, although it may be more lucrative than writing pure history. This book was, to my mind, her best in the novel genre. It was absolutely fascinating, as much as anything, because I knew nothing at all about Lady Katharine Grey and Katharine Plantaganet. Alison Weir has written many books about the Wars of the Roses and the Tudors, so her grasp of the period is very detailed. Katharine Grey was the younger sister of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey who was beheaded after a Protestant conspiracy proclaimed her queen after the death of Edward VI. Katharine became one of Mary Tudor's ladies and renounced her Protestant faith. However, she fell foul of Elizabeth, apparently even before the latter became queen, and although she was next in order of succession in the event of Elizabeth's death, this was never recognised, especially as she married for love without the queen's permission. Katharine Plantaganet was the illegitimate daughter of Richard III and her story is about the change in Richard's personality and ambitions after the death of Edward IV. Alison Weir is attempting to deal here with a great puzzle for many historians. Richard was a well liked and able administrator in the North of England - based at Middleham castle (now a ruin) until the death of Edward IV left England with a King who was still a minor and the possibility of a continuation of the kind of instability which prevailed in the reign of Henry VI. There can be no doubt at all that it was in the interests of Henry VII and the Tudors to blacken Richard's name, because their claim to the throne was not particularly strong, and many records of the time were destroyed. Reading this novel will excite your curiosity and make you want to read more into a fascinating period of history.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm surprised that even the author made it to the end of this one, 4 Jun 2013
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Looking up Alison Weir's biography I see that we're about the same age, and as lovers of history and historical novels I bet we've read the same sort of books in similar quantities over the years. So all credit to her for ploughing through to the end of this one without giving up out of sheer boredom - I know I nearly did.
Her fans have given this latest effort four or five stars, and if I'd never read a history book or novel set in this period before I might just have given it three myself. But I have, of course, and I'm sure she has too, many, many times - because it's Richard III and the princes in the Tower, and Tudor plots and Lady Jane Grey, all over again.
Ms Weir is a successful historian of the popular variety (and nothing wrong with that), but this is supposed to be a novel: so why on earth didn't she try something different, some fictional twist to give us new insight into these all-too-familiar characters and these well-worn tales? Otherwise, what's the point, when it's all been done before, and often better? (Just to name two off the top of my head: The Sunne in Splendour and The Daughter Of Time).
Yes, she grinds out the plot efficiently, but in the end all she's given us are cardboard cut-out portrayals of all the usual suspects, some mawkish love affairs, and the less than startling (and some might say dubious) conclusion that Sir Thomas More was right after all.
I suppose she'd say that she's not just regurgitating the story, that the book's unique selling point is the double narrative, alternating between Kate Plantagenet in the 1480s and Lady Katherine Grey in the 1550s/60s. But it's hardly an original device, and she chops and changes between the two so abruptly it makes your head spin - sometimes the only way I could distinguish between them was the fact that Katherine's story is written in the first person. What conclusion we're supposed to reach, and what exactly the link between these two women is supposed to be, apart from the blindingly obvious, is hard to discern - although (the icing on a very corny cake for me) they do keep having funny feelings and seeing each other's ghost across a crowded room.
It's all a matter of taste, of course, and lots of people claim to have enjoyed this book. But I'd like to think that if I had Ms Weir's talent and success I'd have the guts and energy to take a risk and come up with something a bit more original than this. And wouldn't it be less boring for her to write - as well as for us to read?
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First class historical fiction!, 27 Jun 2012
By 
EleanorB - See all my reviews
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Although not vastly far apart in chronological terms, our two heroines are divided not just by a few decades of history, but by some of the great upheavals that shook England after the death of Edward the Fourth. His two sons, the Princes in the Tower, were his legitimate heirs, but power was usurped by his brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester who was finally defeated at Bosworth by the putative Henry the Seventh. The shifting tides of loyalty and religious struggles meant that almost overnight, a person could find themselves designated "traitor" simply by being on the wrong side of some divide or other. Many unfortunates paid the ultimate price for these ruthless schisms.

Katherine Grey is a descendant of Henry the Eighth through one of his sisters, and in the aftermath of the early death of the young King Edward (Henry the Eighth's sole male heir), she along with her older sister Jane find themselves in line of succession, if Mary Tudor does not succeed in claiming her birthright as queen to succeed her half brother. Mary Tudor does succeed and Jane Grey, having been forced by her family to accept the Crown, is then deposed after a reign of only 9 days - and despite her youth, executed - a horrible tragedy for a helpless, unhappy young woman. Katherine as her sister is denied the fulfilment of her marriage; her family now being on the wrong side of both religion and politics, and she no longer a matrimonial prize.

Lonely and sad, Katherine finds a portrait, and deciphers the person portrayed as Kate Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of the ursurper Richard the Third. Her tale is also one of tragedy, as her young cousins disappear into the Tower and her father claims the crown. Is he a murderer? Can Kate uncover the mystery of the Princes and even find some happiness in her own life. Katherine and Kate seem destined to somehow share each others' experiences in ghostly fashion. Meanwhile, Katherine Grey does. briefly, find personal happiness and fulfilment of a kind in a new marriage, but one which is not sanctioned by her royal relative and new Queen, Elizabeth the First, who will not tolerate a close relative marrying and bearing sons who might threaten her reign.

It's a neat construct and is very well written with loads of accurate historical background, and non experts will welcome the family trees, which are included, The lives and destinies of the Grey sisters are well documented and so are historically accurate, with lives of Richard the Third and his family, slightly less so and the fate of the two Princes in the Tower as obscure now as it was then, although Tudor spin has always placed their Uncle Richard firmly in the frame for their destruction. This book offers a possible scenario in the form of a gripping narrative which keeps up a steady, highly readable pace.

Excellent book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable historical murder mystery, 23 Jun 2013
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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In this novel two teenage girls living 80 years apart, both of whom have suffered for having royal blood, try to solve the mystery of the "Princes in the Tower" ...

As a work of fiction in which the characters try to resolve one of the great unsolved mysteries of real history, "A Dangerous Inheritance" bears serious comparison with Josephine Tey's classic "The Daughter Of Time." Both are excellent novels in which the main characters are trying to discover what happened to the former Edward V and his brother, Richard Duke of York, who are last known to have been alive when they were imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1483.

In Josephine Tey's story the fictional detective was trying to solve the mystery in her own mid 20th-century era, and challenging the prevailing view among historians. By comparison in this novel one of the amateur detectives is a contemporary of the Princes and can seek out first hand accounts from witnesses, and the other, living at the point when their death is just about to pass from living memory to history, can seek out second hand information from people who knew witnesses. And both have a problem Tey's character Inspector Grant did not, that the mystery they are trying to solve is recent enough, and still politically significant enough, for their investigations to draw attention from those currently in power.

One clever irony in this book is that the two heroines are descended respectively from Richard III and Henry VII, the two main suspects who have been put forward as the culprit for the murders of the boys.

The first heroine of this book is Katherine Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of Richard III, who starts to investigate what really happened to the boys partly because she hopes to prove that the father she loved had been innocent of the crime, partly because she desperately wants to know the truth.

The second heroine is Lady Katherine Grey, sister of the tragic Lady Jane Grey and grand-daughter of Henry VIII's sister. In real history, Lady Katherine Grey was briefly married to a relative of the earl to whom Richard III married his daughter Katherine. In this novel, during that marriage Lady Katherine Grey finds a set of notes left by Katherine Plantaganet a lifetime before, detailing her attempt to solve the riddle of the princes. A few years later Katherine Grey was imprisoned in the Tower of London herself after disobeying Queen Elizabeth by marrying again in secret, and in this novel while in the tower she becomes fascinated with the story of the Princes and starts her own search to find the truth.

Both the heroines of this book are real historical figures whose lives were full of tragedy and found their royal blood to be a terrible curse, making them close enough to the throne to be a threat. Both lost people they loved in battle, on the executioner's block, or both. In the story, and certainly in the real life of at least one of the characters, these women were forcibly and cruelly separated from men they loved because their marriages could have affected the balance of power.

The author had written a serious history book about "The Princes In The Tower" in 1992, but this novel gives the impression of re-examining the evidence with an open mind. For the majority of "A Dangerous Inheritance" I was in some doubt whether the outcome of this work of fiction would line up with the conclusions Alison Weir had reached twenty years before in her non-fiction work. (I'm not going to spoil the ending by saying whether it does.)

This is quite a substantial book - 509 pages including the afterword in which the author explains the comparatively few liberties she has taken with history and which parts of the book are speculation or fiction. In particular we know quite a lot about the life of Lady Katherine Grey, and her life in this novel is to a considerable extent based on real history, but there is very little surviving information about Katherine Plantagenet, so her life in this novel is largely fiction and supposition.

The story covers a wide range of material, both about the events the heroines lived through and in that during the course of the story the heroines meet or gain access to many of the witnesses or chronicles and much of the real source material which is available to hint at what might have actually happened to the Princes in the Tower.

There is one minor but irritating error of anachronistic language in this book which happens to be a particular bete noir of mine, a trap usually fallen into by writers of Regency Romances who don't have a tenth the knowledge of history that Alison Weir does. One particular invading army during the Wars of the Roses is described as having come ashore on the coast of "Cumbria."

Alison, really! The present day county of Cumbria was created by Peter Walker in the 1970s. Before that, and certainly at the time of this book, most of the coastline of what is now Cumbria was part of the historic county of Cumberland, though the coast from Barrow-in-Furness and Grange-over-Sands to Morecombe Bay was then part of Lancashire.

Overall I can strongly recommend this both as a work of fiction, and as a very informative book about what this important and often cruel period of English history was like.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read, 31 Dec 2012
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if you like historical novels or have been following this author and read An Innocent Traitor this is a great one to read
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerous Inheritance.Alison Weir, 22 Jan 2013
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This review is from: A Dangerous Inheritance (Kindle Edition)
This is a fascinating insight into life in medieval England and the hopeless disregard for women's rights, they were simply brood mares and political pawns even at the very pinnacle of society and Monarchy.
A very good book.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerous Inheritance, 2 July 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This entertaining historical novel takes the stories of two young women from different periods (although less than one hundred years apart, it was a tumultuous time with many changes of monarch in the country) who are cleverly linked by the murder of the mystery of the Princes in the Tower.

Katerine Grey is the sister of Jane Grey, whose story was told in a previous novel by Alison Weir, the excellent Innocent Traitor. The beginning of this book covers Jane's short reign, before Mary Tudor comes to power. Our second heroine is Kate Plantagenet, the illegitimate daughter of Richard III. When her story begins, Richard has just heard that his brother, the King has died.

Each chapter alternates their story. Katherine, like her sister Jane, is seen as very much as a pawn in her family's power struggle for the throne - although you feel the trappings of power would be less unwelcome to her than they would have been to her elder sister. Welcomed back to court when Mary is Queen, she finds the power struggles and intrigue difficult to deal with. She is no match for the wily and intelligent Elizabeth, who is also keen to take her rightful place on the throne and who sees Katherine as a possible rival for her place.

Kate is a great believer in her father Richard and loathes the gossip and rumours she hears at Court. Both her stepmother Anne and her grandmother are suspicious of Richard's motives concerning the young princes. When she meets a young man she loves she longs to marry him, but marriage at court is made for other motives. In that sense, both Kate and Katherine are unable to follow their hearts and much time is spent railing against their inability to love the men they choose. At times you feel quite impatient with the constant sobbing, although the reality was that there was little they could do to influence their fate. When Katherine, by far the most impetuous of the two, does follow her heart it leads to immense problems.

During the novel, the stories are linked by both young women attempting to discover the fate of the two Princes. Kate as she wants to clear her own doubts about the father she loved and Katherine when she comes across some letters by Kate and becomes intrigued by her story. This is a really well written (as you would expect), deftly plotted and fascinating account of not only the two main characters but the period of history which saw the Plantagenet line replaced by the Tudor's and the constant pressure of naming a successor to the throne which the children of Henry VIII faced. If you have read any Alison Weir novels before, then I am sure you will like this too.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Blend of Fact and Fiction, 26 Jun 2012
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
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Alison Weir's 'A Dangerous Inheritance' is written in two alternating narratives and tells the story of Lady Katherine Grey, sister to the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter to Mary Rose Tudor, and cousin to Edward VI; and alongside Katherine Grey's story, we are told the story of Katherine Plantagenet, daughter of Richard III, who lived almost a century earlier.

Katherine Grey, a very young and attractive girl, is married at the age of thirteen to Lord Henry Herbert, son of the Earl of Pembroke, in a double wedding ceremony with her sister, Jane, to Lord Guilford Dudley, son of the Duke of Northumberland. Northumberland, desperate to prevent the throne passing to the catholic Mary Tudor, tries to persuade the dying Edward VI to alter the line of succession so that Edward's cousin, Lady Jane, will succeed him after his death. When Northumberland's plan goes awry and Lady Jane is imprisoned and then beheaded, Katherine's marriage to Henry, which has not been consummated, is annulled and she is sent home in disgrace. With one marriage behind her, and her sister and father having been executed, Katherine must tread very carefully and when Elizabeth Tudor becomes Queen, Katherine has to be even more careful for Elizabeth sees her as a rival for the throne. When Katherine becomes romantically involved with Edward Seymour (nephew of King Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour) against the wishes of Elizabeth, the Queen's wrath descends upon Katherine with dramatic consequences.

Interlaced with Katherine's story is that of Katherine (Kate) Plantagenet, the illegitimate daughter of Richard III. The reader learns of Katherine's early life and of how her father, the Duke of Gloucester, after the death of his brother Edward IV, takes the crown, imprisoning his nephews in the Tower of London. Kate, who loves and respects her father, slowly comes to the realisation that he is not the kind man she believed him to be and when she hears dreadful rumours about his role in the disappearance and possible murder of her cousins, the Princes in the Tower, she decides to embark on a dangerous mission to discover the truth about fate of her young relations.

This was an entertaining read of two young women whose lives are connected by conspiracy, intrigue and by their twin fates of being too close to the throne; of the two Katherines, I found Katherine Grey to be the more interesting and believable character and I became quite involved with her story. Kate Plantagenet's story, with her quest into the disappearance of the princes was a little less convincing, but it did add another dimension to the story and allowed the author to exercise more dramatic licence than might have been possible with Katherine Grey's story, whose life is the more historically documented of the two. That said, this is a richly layered story, which blends fact with fiction and is full of plotting, scheming, treachery and treason; and as Alison Weir is an historian with several works of non-fiction to her credit, this novel is written within an authentic historical framework which both educates and entertains, making this an ideal read for when you want to lose yourself in the past.

4 Stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining novel which sadly lost momentum, 3 Jun 2014
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Although I was thoroughly captivated for the first half of this novel, it sadly lost momentum through the second half and I began to find both characters a little whiny, their stories repetitive and stationary. A bit disappointing considering the excellent start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Richard III, in the Tower, with the pillow, 4 Feb 2014
By 
Christopher Ward "Bretwalda" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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Alison Weir is an excellent historian and I have read and enjoyed many of her books. As a writer of historical fiction however, she still has some way to go. As historical mysteries go, the disappearance of the princes in the tower is right up there. Given renewed focus by the recent discovery of king Richard III's bones, interest in the period has never been higher. There are lots of (history) books available that give expert opinions on our most maligned monarch, some pro, some anti. They all work because of the limited evidence to provide the definitive answer to the mystery.

The author does say that she wanted to write the novel to allow her more latitude than is possible as a serious historian
and this she does. It's just that others do it better. The basis of the mystery is surely so well known as to remove surprise. The time shifting element is used to much better effect by other authors such as Tracy Chevalier. As someone with a good knowledge of the period I ended up finding the book a little bit boring. However it is well-written and provides a balanced view of the debate about the fate if the princes, before suggesting a conclusion that probably fits best given the absence of hard evidence (and I write that as a lifelong Ricardian).

The book demonstrates that as is often the case, real life is more exciting than fiction. The period is so exciting and there are so nany great histories of the period that do much better than this novel. I do recomnend the author's history books, especially her biography of Katherine Swynford, mistress and subsequent wife, of John of Gaunt.
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