Yesterday, 22nd August, was 532nd anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth. It was on this day in 1485 that Henry Tudor defeated and killed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, and took the English crown.
So I thought I would share with you my favourite Richard III books because:
- I adore medieval historical fiction,
- The Wars of the Roses are my favourite era hence my blog name and
- Richard III is my favourite monarch so much so that I have his motto tattooed.
Now onto the books!
1. The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
If I was pushed to pick a favourite novel of all time, this novel would be it. I adore Penman’s writing. For me it’s the perfect mix of research, compelling characters and engrossing scenes.
The Sunne in Splendour follows Richard Plantagenet from his childhood to his untimely death at Bosworth in 1845. Penman strips back the ugly myth of Richard, the vile hunchback king who murdered his nephews, The Princes in the Tower, and redeems him. Richard III might not horrible tyrant Tudor playwright, Shakespeare, wanted us to believe.
Born in the treacherous courts of 15th century England while the Yorks and Lancastrians fight for the crown, Richard was raised in the shadow of his charismatic brother, Edward IV. We see Richard as a loyal man, one who would defend his brother and friends to the death; as a man who is passionately in love with one women, his queen, Anne Neville. Filled with battles, court politics, 15th century customs and the passion of royalty.
2. Ravenspur (Wars of the Roses #4) by Conn Iggulden
While not my favourite book in the series, mostly because Richard’s character doesn’t stray too far from the Shakespearian depiction, Ravenspur is still a fantastic novel. I thought this one would include this one is particular as it’s the book in the series to have the Battle of Bosworth.
Ravenspur takes place in the final 15 years of The Wars of the Roses. Starting in 1570, we see the Lancastrian’s final play for the throne against Edward IV and his brothers, George Duke of Clarence and Richard Duke of Gloucester. The novel ends with in 1584 with the rise of the Tudor Dynasty.
Iggulden has bring new life into these scheming barons, ruthless queens and ambitious kings. They feel human — living, breathing and real. While reading this series it’s so easy to get swept up in the visceral storytelling that it’s hard to remember all these events actually happened 500 odd years ago. The battle scenes describe the chaos, the fear and pure adrenaline of war, you feel like you’re there.
3. The Kingmaker’s Daughter (Cousins’ War #4) by Philippa Gregory
This was the series, specifically the TV adoption, is what got me hooked on The Wars of the Roses. Promptly after I finished the mini series I tracked down the the books and devoured them.
This series is a made up of companion novels, with most of the narratives over lapping. The Kingmaker’s Daughter narrative play out on the same timeline as The White Queen and The Red Queen. Anne Neville is our protagonist and since she becomes Richard III’s wife this is the novel that focuses on the last Plantagenet king.
We don’t see the battles like we do the other books, as The Kingmaker’s Daughter has a female protagonist. But we get a different kind of fear — the fear of the noble ladies. They sit out the battles, powerless to stop it but also not knowing if they will be striped of their home and titles once the battle ends. The best part of this books is the budding romance between Anne and Richard — it’s swoon worthy.
That’s all for me. Comment down below and let me know if you’ve read any of these. Also if you have any recommendations. I am always on the lookout for more Wars of the Roses novels.
Until next time, happy reading!