Saturday, 9 January 2016

Happy New Year - and the 'best books of 2015'

At the start of 2015, I made a vow to read more historical fiction. After all, there's only so many times you can read the same information on the Tudors over and over again - when in fact, there's very little new information on them - maybe some long forgotten facts if you are lucky. And of course, historical biographies on Edward II and his court are few and far between. I was spurred on by Kasia, from the Young King's blog. Here's my top reads of 2015. 1. Colin Iggulden's 'Bloodline', the third part of his trilogy on the Wars of the Roses. I was impressed with the other 2 previous novels, but Bloodline was outstanding! I literally couldn't put it down. The battle of Towton was described in every horrific detail, bringing the battle to life and bringing the horror of medieval warship home to me. I also enjoyed the portrayal of Warwick the Kingmaker, and cannot wait for the next instalment. 2. I finally got around to reading the Sharon Penman trilogy on Eleanor of Acquitaine. I ended up reading them in reverse order - 'The Devil's Brood', 'Time and Chance' and 'When Christ and his Saints slept', and for me, it was the latter that really stood out. I found myself having sympathy for both Stephen and the Empress Maude, particularly her plight at Oxford. I also enjoyed the fictional Welsh characters and the portrayal of Henry Ist's illegitimate son. 3. 'Jasper Tudor' - Debra Bayani. A superb biography on an important character in the Wars of the Roses. 4. 'The Greatest Knight' by Thomas Asbridge. A fascinating account of the life of William Marshal and his relationship with 5 Kings of England. 5. 'King John' by Marc Morris. There were a lot of books out on King John last year, marking the anniversary of Magna Carta. This was a very honest account of John's character and reign. What more can I say? John is one of history's real bad boys. 6. 'Richard III - the king in the car park' by Terry Breveton - really enjoyed this unromantic biography of Richard III, another of history's 'bad boys'. The author uses many of the old Welsh sources, and also attacks the many myths that have grown up around Richard and his 'saintly character'. He also rebuts many of the Ricardian propaganda against Henry V II. Apologies for the way this post is set out - nothing I do will 'unblock the text'.

6 comments:

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Happy New Year, Anerje! And thank you for a mention :-) I didn't know I had a hand in it ;-) I really would like to read Marc Morris biography of John.

Anerje said...

Well Kasia, you did keep recommending Sharon Penman's trilogy, and I just though - why not? It made a refreshing change and the books gripped my interest - I've since read up on King Stephen and the Empress Maude. I confess I've read some really awful historical fiction, which I won't name, but Penman is in a class of her own. As for the John book, I clung desperately to any good in John, but of course, there was very little;)

Kathryn Warner said...

Happy New Year, Anerje! I enjoyed the King John one too.

Anerje said...

Hi Kathryn, it made bitter reading at times ;)

Gabriele Campbell said...

Happy belated New Year, Anerje.

Does Iggulden get the history right this time? I remember that I was really mad at the crap research job he did with his Caesar novels (only read the first), and never touched a book by him again.

Anerje said...

Hi Gabriele. He has done good research IMO. His main character is fictional and there are many other fictional characters. I really like their stories. He admits he does miss out certain chunks of history and explains why. He's also changed some historical names, and it's understandable. The Wars of the Roses, as it's called, is at times very complicated and it gets confusing because of people names being the same. So I think Iggulden has done a good job. I've never read any of his Caesar novels - and I take it it's best not to?;)