Publisher: Michael Joseph (10 Oct 2013)
Historical fiction master Conn Iggulden retells the gripping story of the English civil war in his new Wars of the Roses series.
King Henry V – the great Lion of England – is long dead.
In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king – Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom.
Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England’s territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.
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?
We start with a prologue. It’s 1377 at the bedside of dying King Edward III.
66 years later and King Henry is praying while spymaster Derry Brewer and William the Duke of Suffolk are hatching a plan for Henry to marry Margaret of Anjou and keep England safe.
Over in France, Margaret of Anjou is at home in Saumur Castle. Her father is always away on campaigns and she’s watched her mother sell everything of value and dismiss all the servants. However, now, King Charles is coming so life in the castle has changed to accommodate him.
We witness a scene at Reuben Moselle’s home in France. Reuben is a Jewish moneylender. The English present, notably Lord of York and his wife, watch and do nothing as Reuben is taken away on false charges.
There is plenty of intrigue and tension as we spend time alternately in England and France – from the approach of the wedding and afterwards, with intrigue, plotting and riots in both places.
I enjoy historical fiction and find each author brings something different to the story in the way they portray the characters.
Conn Iggulden captures Margaret’s voice perfectly and the growth of her character from a young and naïve girl through to queen is excellent. We get to know her well and this makes the factual history feel very real.
Although Derry Brewster is fictional, he has to be the character who stands out the most for me. King’s Spymaster, he gets himself into some stressful situations …
Alongside the undercurrents between the houses of York and Lancaster, there’s Jack Cade in England and the residents who join together in Maine, giving the reader plenty of action to keep turning the pages.
Weaving fiction with fact, Stormbird is an historical read that will transport you and engage you.
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I read Stormbird as part of the Real Readers programme.