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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding beginning to Conn Iggulden's new series
When Henry the Lion dies unexpectedly, leaving a worrisome youth on the throne, sadly so unlike his namesake, the powers that be decide that on his coming of age the best way to avoid disaster is to unite with the enemy, France. The boy Henry is to be married to Margaret of Anjou. The property settled on England's archers, the victors of Agincourt, is to be returned to...
Published 9 months ago by Kate

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3.0 out of 5 stars Stormbird
This is the first in an upcoming series on the Wars of the Roses, the struggle between Lancastrians and Yorkists for the throne of England and the right to succession following the death in 1377 of Edward III.

The author has written epic sagas before, but the fifteenth century English setting is a new departure for him I believe. I found this book a good novel...
Published 8 months ago by Keen Reader


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding beginning to Conn Iggulden's new series, 17 Oct 2013
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
When Henry the Lion dies unexpectedly, leaving a worrisome youth on the throne, sadly so unlike his namesake, the powers that be decide that on his coming of age the best way to avoid disaster is to unite with the enemy, France. The boy Henry is to be married to Margaret of Anjou. The property settled on England's archers, the victors of Agincourt, is to be returned to France. With the benefit of hindsight it is clear that this is a disastrous foreign policy, bringing nothing but unrest to these islands, the exiled fleeing from France with little but vengeful intentions left to call their own. As Normandy, too, threatens to fall under this avalanche of bounty for France, it is not just young Margaret of Anjou who arrives on English shores to stir the half-mad king. With her travels rebellion and anger, enflamed by those closest to Henry who, against nature, have least thought for his care. The Wars of the Roses take root, flourish and grow through the pages of a masterpiece of a novel - Stormbird by Conn Iggulden.

It is fitting that the cover of Stormbird is my favourite of the year. Its shades of gold shine; within the covers are beautifully drawn and coloured maps and family trees. This is a stunning novel to possess. But, not unexpectedly (it is by Conn Iggulden, after all), its story more than rivals it. The Wars of the Roses is a popular theme, boosted by the recent discovery of the remains of one of its most notorious protagonists Richard III, but Iggulden brings the origins of this conflict to life through the stories and experiences of a host of less familiar characters, both factual and fictional, both powerful and near destitute.

This is a novel full of violence, battle and shock, but, for me, despite that, the most memorable figure is young Margaret of Anjou. There is not a trace of sentimentality in her treatment. She might be little more than a child but she is under no illusion about her duty and her good fortune, terrifying though it must have been. She is married to Henry VI by proxy, the paternal Duke of Suffolk, William, standing in for her vulnerable groom, kindly removing his own ring, uttering gentle words, so that she should feel less slighted and humiliated. Margaret loves the sea voyage to England. How often do we read about the horrors and sickness of a medieval channel crossing? But here she exalts in it and William laughs to see it. Her arrival in London is accompanied by descriptions that bring 15th-century urban squalour, dirt and filth to our senses. Margaret is possibly less perturbed than the modern reader by the sight of bloated corpses floating down the Thames. Margaret's good-natured persistence with her monkish husband is beautifully dealt with. Our sympathies are never entirely removed from Henry thanks to Iggulden's care and that is quite an achievement.

Alongside Margaret and Henry there are other vividly realised figures from these Wars. There is the engineer of much of it - chief spy and civil servant Derry Brewer who, titleless, mingles cleverly with our other leading personality in the court, William of Suffolk. The fact that their plans and plotting contribute to such chaos in the land doesn't detract from our empathy towards them, not least because facing them we have such men as Richard, Duke of York, who is partnered by a woman worthy of him, Cecily Neville, his Duchess. And yet, even Richard and Cecily are not treated in shades of black and white. There are moments when we are in danger of sympathising with even these two. This is an involving world we've been led into. Derry and William, though, are hugely enjoyable characters. Watching the lengths that Derry must go to in order to avoid the ire of Richard of York is a joy to read, with its perfect mix of danger and wit.

Not all of the novel is to do with the rich and powerful. There are displaced longbowmen and disgruntled peasants and much of Stormbird follows their rich and full lives, especially those of archer Thomas Woodchurch and his son, and of real-life rebel John Cade who led his army of of the dispossessed and hungry into London itself. What these people have to deal with is measured against the acts that they inflict on others in their vengeance. It makes things complicated and rewarding to read. There is a moment with John Cade that made me weep and that is testament to Iggulden's powers of humanising these long-dead people.

Stormbird is rich in memorable scenes, not least the battles and skirmishes, but there are others that will stay with you. There is a death dealt out to an unpopular Jew that haunted me for days; there are other moments of extreme brutality or high adventure; there are scenes with such tenderness or sadness; there is also great wit and humour. But, for me, most memorable of all, is the young Queen Margaret standing brave to fight for her husband and her adopted country in the face of terrifying odds. Stormbird is an unputdownable adventure. I read it in little more than a day and when I finished it I had trouble picking up any other book. It is that good.

Stormbird is the first of a new series for Conn Iggulden, so close on the heels of Emperor: The Blood of Gods (Emperor Series, Book 5), his finale to the superb Emperor sequence. With Stormbird, he has already shown Wars of the Roses to be as outstanding as it is anticipated. History gives us an idea of what is to come in the next novel and in Conn Iggulden's hands it will soar. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ripping yarn set in mediaeval times, 23 Jun 2014
This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
There are lots of novels written about the Wars of the Roses. They tend to be by our female authors, and from what I can tell they tend to be heavy on "relationships". This is not one of those books. Iggulden is more into disembowelling and torture than anything so nambypamby as a relationship.

The king of England (Henry VI) has made a truce (for 20 years, in theory) with the king of France. Two counties, Anjou and Maine, have been handed back to the French, and the king gets to marry a French princess (Margaret of Anjou). Not everyone is entirely happy with this arrangement, in particular the English settlers in those two areas.

Henry VI is no great warrior, it seems. Much English territory in France is lost because the residents see no benefit in Henry's truce. Instead they fight to keep their farms. The French army used the resistance as a breach if the truce, and sweep over the English lands they have been granted and on into Normandy, and right up to the fortifications of Calais.

Dispossessed settlers and disenchanted peasants revolt, the men of Kent under Jack Cade prominent among them. They kill the High Sheriff of Kent, stick his head on a pole and advance upon London, fighting across the bridge over the Thames and sacking the Tower of London, forcing the king to flee.

There is something wrong with King Henry - he spends much of the book on his sickbed, and although his wife becomes pregnant, Henry dies before the child is born. Richard of York is appointed regent. Cue the sequel...

I missed all this stuff at school in Scotland - they didn't give us English history until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. So I don't know how much is true and how much is Shakespeare. The author appends a historical note in which he admits that he doesn't know either... But as a ripping yarn set in mediaeval times, it does the job.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Stormbird, 29 Nov 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This is the first in an upcoming series on the Wars of the Roses, the struggle between Lancastrians and Yorkists for the throne of England and the right to succession following the death in 1377 of Edward III.

The author has written epic sagas before, but the fifteenth century English setting is a new departure for him I believe. I found this book a good novel of the prelude to, and beginning of the Wars of the Roses, but not great. The characters were largely historical figures, but there were `fictional' characters used by the author to expand on the historical sources, and these were drawn more fully than the historical characters I thought. I found the characters were rather shallow, and we never really got inside their heads - while we saw action, we never really understood motivation or intention.

The action is well portrayed, but I didn't ever really feel that I was drawn into the story entirely; personally I didn't feel an empathy for any of the characters, historical or fictional, and I never really felt like I was totally involved in the whole story. There's much more to be told of the Wars of the Roses, but I think that Mr Iggulden will not be able to entice me to read more of his saga. Good, not great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars this book is rubbish, 10 July 2014
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This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
The writing style. The dialogue is not convincing and the plot line is weak. I can't be bothered to persevere with it
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner, 9 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
Having read all of Conn Iggulden's books I was interested to read his take on this period in British history and the main characters who were involved. I enjoyed the book very much and Mr Iggulden does a wonderful job of fleshing out the main protagonists along with his own characters and his descriptions of the tactics, underhand plotting and the bloody slaughter on the battle fields is excellent. I look forward to his next offering in the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read., 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
A good read although I found the battle descriptions a little tedious. Good well-rounded characters though and looking forward to the next volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
As with all of conn igguldens books another delightfully engrossing historical novel. Looking forward to book 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 30 Jun 2014
By 
J. J. Lynch "John" (Hertford England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
thoroughly enjoyed this novel Conn Iggulden at his best wrapping historical events with a element of fiction to keep the story alive and believable. Excellent Read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read, 21 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
Having read both the Emperor and Genghis Khan series of books this was a must have when it was released.
Conn Iggulden's books are always very well researched and this one was no exception. I have read many books on the WOTR but this one is interesting in that it starts right at the beginning of the wars and will, no doubt, end with the death of Richard on Bosworth Field. It gives quite a personal insight into the lives of not only the nobles but also common people and for that reason is quite fascinating. If you are interested in this period of history I am sure that you will learn a lot that you didn't know - I certainly did.
Shame that I have to wait for the 2nd instalment to be released but will certainly buy when it is released.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wars of the Roses, 7 Jun 2014
By 
Pete D (Cambridgeshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Kindle Edition)
I've read Conn Iggulden's Emperor series and Conqueror series and am now looking forward to the second book in the Wars of the Roses series. All of Conn Iggulden's books reach the 5 star mark for me, he is a great historian and if he wanders from the facts for the sake of the plot, he will acknowledge this.

Wars of the Roses (Stormbird) is excellent and covers the period when England lost most of its possessions in France. With a weak and ill king on the English throne it is to be expected, and it sets the scene for the beginning of the Wars of the Roses between the Hose of Lancaster and the House of York. Bring it on!
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