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'.