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Fab historical fiction............,
This review is from: Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Wars of the Roses 1) (Hardcover)
It's 1443, and there is still unrest in France over the lands that the English own there.
The king's spymaster, Derry Brewer, and William de la Pole - the Duke of
Suffolk - easily persuade the young and weak-minded King Henry VI to consider
taking a French wife. They have their eye on Margaret Anjou.
Henry's father, King Henry V successfully fought for the English lands in France. A 20 year truce with
France via the marriage, and the return of Maine and Anjou to the French should bring a long outstanding peace between the two countries.
Richard, Duke of York, is the leader of the English army in Normandy, and a staunch
supporter of the old King Henry. After the wedding ceremony in France, Richard is furious when he learns that the French army are waiting in Anjou to reclaim the land.....Over the next few months in Normandy, Richard watches more and more English families, turfed from their homes and farmland, arrive to seek refuge in the town. He refuses to order the English army to help the innocent, biding his time in silence to see if the landowners revolt.
Margaret arrives in England and as Margaret spends more time beside Henry she notes his mental and physical weaknesses. She demands to see all future documents before Henry signs them.
King Charles is unhappy at the damage the English rebellions are doing to his army and declares the truce now broken. He vows to take back all the lands of France belonging to the English.
The Duke of Suffolk arrives in Normandy to relieve Richard of York of his duty. Richard is humoured as he is aware of the fight coming from the French King. The Duke of Suffolk goes into battle against the huge French army but the French force the English back across the channel.
Jack Cade, a rebel against the king's men, has raised an army of a thousand men - farmers and former land owners in France who are bitter at how they have been treated. They create havoc - murder and looting - across the Kent countryside and upon hearing of the unrest in the city, Jack decides to take the fight to London.
Derry Brewer is called to attend the Speaker of Commons, Tresham, at parliament. There is a charge of high treason - someone has to pay for the loss of thousands of men in France and Lord Suffolk is the main suspect. Brewer sends a messenger to intercept Suffolk and stop him coming to London but Lord Suffolk refuses to act like a coward.
Richard of York, Cardinal Beaufort and Tresham pressure Suffolk into signing a confession. After being tortured Suffolk gives in and signs the confession, leaving himself at the king's mercy.
With the peers and lords of the King gathered in the king's chambers, the injured Suffolk is brought in. Suffolk regains his strength of mind and denies all charges. The king's final judgement is read out. The King banishes Suffolk from Britain for five years. Brewer has already arranged supplies and safe passage to France for Suffolk.
Furious, Richard of York has the support of his followers behind him when he asks Tresham to set a new law of parliament - that another heir to the throne be selected until a child is born to the King and Queen.
Suffolk boards the merchant cog that Brewer has arranged for him. A warship intercepts them at sea and the crew are killed and thrown overboard. The captain of the warship addresses Suffolk by name. Just as Suffolk has time to realise he has been betrayed, the captain takes a blade to Suffolk's throat.
As the news reaches London that Jack Cade and his entourage of a thousand men or more are on the outskirts ready to raid the city, Margaret refuses to leave but the King is escorted to his castle at Kenilworth.
Jack Cade and his army fight their way over London Bridge. As a diversion Cade and the main force of his army head towards the Guildhall while some of his other men head for the Tower and the royal mint. As dawn approaches Cade joins his men at the tower. His remaining army of men are exhausted or still drunk from the nights fighting and looting. As much of the gold and silver they can carry is taken from the tower as they head back for London Bridge.
Brewer arrives at the tower, relieved to see Margaret is safe. Margaret sends a pardon to Cade and his men on the understanding that they leave London alone. Cade agrees and spreads the wealth of the looting among his most loyal men.
With the freedom of the pardon Cade and his men have enjoyed a few months of peace with the law and are starting to settle down and make a life for themselves. Jack and his friends are building his home when the new sheriff and his men come upon them. Jack is under arrest for treason and murder of the king's men. Jack fights for his new life but they are outnumbered, his men are killed and he is mortally wounded.
At the beginning of the queen's pregnancy the King organises a hunt for his lords and earls. He is taken ill that evening and five months later as he stills lies in a comatose state, a meeting of the king's lords is held in Westminster. As most present are supporters of Richard of York, he is voted in to rule as Protector and Defender of the Realm until such time as the King resumes his health or there is a successor to the throne........
Conn Iggulden is a master at weaving fiction into history and history into fiction.......a fantastic and entertaining read. I look forward to reading the next in the series.