Stormbird: Wars of the Roses book one by Conn Iggulden
US edition July 8, 2014 from Putnam Adult
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:
The first book in #1 New York Times bestselling author Conn Iggulden’s brilliant new historical series about two families who plunged England into a devastating, decades-long civil war.
In 1437, the Lancaster king Henry VI ascends the throne of England after years of semi-peaceful regency. Named "The Lamb,” Henry is famed more for his gentle and pious nature than his father’s famous battlefield exploits; already, his dependence on his closest men has stirred whispers of weakness at court.
A secret truce negotiated with France to trade British territories for a royal bride—Margaret of Anjou—sparks revolts across English territory. The rival royal line, the House of York, sees the chaos brought on by Henry’s weakness and with it not only opportunity in the monarch, but also their patriotic duty in ousting an ineffectual king. As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who or what can save the kingdom before it is too late?
This was a fantastic novel on one of my favorite historical eras. I was really expecting something less exciting, -more profane perhaps- as I am prejudiced against male authors after coming across a few novels in my earlier years that turned me away from male authors. So I have to really be intrigued by the subject matter in order to want to read a male author and yet again I have proven myself wrong in my prejudice (this time!).
The fact that I zipped through this novel doesn't make it any less worthy, it just made it a page turner. Instead of focusing on just one particular facet during the reign of the feeble Henry VI, the novel takes on a panoramic and expansive view as it jumps effortlessly from one character to the other. We get the bad guys, and the good guys, the political heavy-weights, the nobles, some peasants, and some of the Royal family. It really gets going quickly as the pacing of the story made it hard to put down. After reading quite a few Wars of the Roses novels I was thoroughly impressed with how I felt I learned something new, and in an enjoyable way. As usual, my only complaint is that I'll have to wait forever to read the next book in the series, (hoping I can snag it from a UK seller this fall) and I despise reading works so far apart from each other.
The author's note at the end explains some of the fictionalized events of the novel and yet I didn't feel as I was reading it that things were out of place. I enjoyed some of the characters that were entirely fictitious as well as the way the author portrayed the well-known figures of the era. Richard of York was so easy to despise with his arrogant ways! And Margaret of Anjou was so easy to like with her quick intelligence! Poor Henry VI, you can't really change his character too much, as yet again he was a bit of a zombie during the novel. (Oh, no please don't do a zombie mashup novel!)
There was a lot of suspense as the rebellions grew and with the fate of Master Brewer, the fictional character, which put a nice spin on to the tale. I am pleased to report that there were not any male chauvinistic tendencies nor were there very much crude language if at all. Stormbird is an excellent slice of the big pie of the Wars of the Roses epic saga, and I cannot wait to dig into more from the author.