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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 February 2010
The Stolen Crown begins is told from the alternating POV of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and his wife Katherine Woodville. Henry (Harry) was married as a young child to Katherine, younger sister of Elizabeth Woodville - Queen of England and wife to Edward IV (no small feat for those *grasping* Woodvilles). When they grow older Harry and Katherine are able to establish a strong marriage, but Harry wants more power and position at court than Edward is willing to give him and he chafes at the bit, which only exacerbates his dilema. Harry is on firmer ground with Edward's younger brother Richard and when Edward dies and Richard thinks he can take it all.......

This period and it's history is much too complicated to try to spell out in a review - either you know the basics going in and don't need a rehash or if you don't I'd just have your eyes glazing over trying to explain it all. What I enjoyed most about this one was the *fresh* look at the period from the POV of Harry and Kate and how his rebellion against Richard III might have come about. I just loved Kate's voice and her dry sense of humor, as well as seeing them both as children and then adults caught up in a political storm beyond their control.

I loved the way the author brought some humor into the York/Lancaster differences, as well as busting some of those commonly held myths - Katherine being much older than Harry as well as the Woodville women being practicing witches. I appreciate that Higginbotham doesn't try to muddle her story with *authentic* period language - no "woe is me" to be found in this book (but that's a good thing). You also won't find a saintly-pure-as-the-driven-snow Richard as he's been painted by recently by some of our latest and *cough* greatest historical fiction authors, although this Ricardian may not always agree with the author's interpretations :p

Impeccably researched, the author mentions in her notes what is fact, what is surmised from the known facts as well as those mysteries that will probably never be solved like the Princes in the Tower. Highly recommended for any fan of this period as well as a good eye-opener for those new to it, this should give you a good grounding without overwhelming you at once. My all time favorite is still Sharon Penman's fabulous The Sunne in Splendour. 4.5/5 stars.

******
My copy courtesy of Sourcebooks. Thank you.
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on 6 September 2011
The core of this book is historically very accurate and I enjoyed viewing the story from this different angle.
These were very complex times as to who was related to who, married to who and loyal to who at any one moment in time (it was forever shifting).
The story was told in such a way as to make those relationships understandable and the story held my interest throughout.
It is possible that Buckingham has been portrayed in a much more favoured light than he deserves but we will never know for certain.
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on 27 July 2013
The Stolen Crown was another good read from Susan Higginbotham for me, but I didn't quite get into it as much as The Queen of Last Hopes. It starts promisingly with exciting opening scenes that immediately grabbed my attention and made me want to keep reading, but it does tails off in the middle - that is, it's well-written, but the story kind of treads water for a while in the middle whilst Katherine Woodville and Henry Stafford grow up, and you just know we're all waiting for Richard III to come along.

Higginbotham admits in her author's note that very little is known about Buckingham and his motives, so I enjoyed reading about a plausible recreation of his what might have happened. We'll never really know, of course. I kind of felt that the marriage between Katherine and Henry depicted here seemed the same as the other marriages in medieval historical fiction - rocky starts, solidifying as they get to know each other. Having read a lot of medieval fiction recently, I've noticed that this sort of marriage seems to crop up a lot.

One thing I'm not sure was a decision that worked was telling the story from the perspective of Katherine and Henry. It was definitely interesting to get the perspective of characters who we don't often get to know very well in wars of the roses fiction because they're not the main players... but because they are often secondary figures in events, they're not always present for key events, or aware of what's going on. That works for me as a reader who already knows the wars of the roses well and so I can gain novelty and enjoyment from reading the same tale again from this fresh new angle, but for other readers it may be different. It can restrict the scope of the story, and I couldn't help wishing that there was more of the key players in The Stolen Crown - I was curious how Higginbotham would portray Edward IV, Richard III, Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick, George Plantagenet and so on, but I wanted more of them than I got, so to speak.
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on 9 April 2013
I hadn't realised how truly complicated this fairly short period of English history was. Considering the list of the kings of England and their queens, Elizabeth Woodville did seem an anomaly, I mean where did she come from? This books clears that up: she was beautiful and gentle, and Edward IV fell for her. And Edward himself, and the doubts as to his 'provenance' - which might well have been the reason his brother Richard felt entitled to grab for the throne upon his untimely death.

It was quite a twist to get the story from the viewpoint of two other royals. But well over half way through the book, I made a big mistake. I googled Richard III's story of how he achieved his coup, and who his backers were, and the mess that ensued after he became king. So, through no mistake of the author, I just couldn't face reading anymore as the fate of someone I'd come to really like and respect slowly unwound. Won't be doing that again when I read my next historical novel.
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on 22 May 2013
Interesting, well-written book on the War of the Roses. As mentioned by someone else I think, a basic understanding of the events and people involved in the War of the Roses would be helpful... or easy access to Wikipedia, I suppose ;-)

I have read a number of books on this period in history. I've not found anything to surpass S K Penman' s Sunne in Splendour, and this is no exception. However, this was an enjoyable read. I found the portrayal of Richard III after Edward IV' s death a bit jarring, as well as the incredible stupidity and/or naivete of Buckingham.
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on 4 February 2016
Well written and enjoyable historical novel about the 15th century Duke of Buckingham who is usually depicted as a villain and his marriage to
Katherine Woodville. This novel takes the traditional view that Richard 111 killed his nephews. Personally i have always thought that
Margaret Beaufort with the help of her nephew and husband Lord Stanley were the guilty party. Nevertheless I enjoyed this novel.
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on 12 September 2013
I have read these two books in fairly quick succession and they deal with the same period and the same topic, the Wars of the Roses. Of the two I prefer Stolen Crown. Although both are historical novels, The White Queen, an excellent book too, goes into too much witchcraft whereas Stolen Crown is more factual and covers a period extending to Henry VII. I also prefer the style of writing. There is a sequal to The White Queen called The Red Queen which would presumably cover this later period too but I downloaded a sample and it was clear that it was all going to be about witches too so I never bought it.

If you want a very enjoyable account of the late 15th Century, all its intrigues and betrayals, executions and adulteries, awful civil war with a fair degree of historical accuracy read Stolen Crown.
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on 30 March 2015
Initially I was sceptical about this book because as an avid tudor history reader I wasn't sure what could be added to existing books. However I was pleasantly surprised that by using a lesser known sister of Elizabeth Woodville (Katherine) and her marriage to the Duke of Buckingham a fascinating story emerges. It is well written and by using the two main protagonists to tell the story it is an interesting read.

I now want to know more about the lesser known members of the Woodville family and the Buckinghams.
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on 2 November 2013
The Wars of the Roses is a time steeped in mystery and obviously it allows authors a great deal of scope to explore ideas and possibilities. This is yet another saga of possibilities. However this one takes the story through the eyes of two young players, sometimes at the centre of the action, others on the sidelines. It is an interesting read and it tells a good story, all the fictitious events are possibilities but that is what they are - possibilities and fictitious. Read and enjoy but don't totally believe.
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on 3 September 2012
This book satisfied me on a couple of levels. First of all, it shed light on a period of history that I knew little about - but did it in a way that made it all fairly accessible. Some of the names and relationships were a little confusing but this is no reflection on the author's ability, more on how easily and quickly alliances were made, broken and reforged during this period.
I can't comment on the historical accuracy of the novel but it was certainly a convincing portrait of an uncertain, troubled time.
'Stolen Crown' also satisfied greatly on another level - as a well-told, very readable yarn about love, life and politics. Well-recommended.
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