The Tudor Trilogy follows the emergence of the Tudor dynasty from its beginning with Owen Tudor, the subject of the first book, through Jasper, his son, the subject of the second.
I reviewed the first book and welcomed the chance to follow the story. This time period is a particularly difficult one, dealing with the War of the Roses, symbolized by the heraldic badges of the two battling houses of the Plantagenet line: the House of Lancaster (red rose) and that of York (white rose). Each claimed the right to the throne of England. During the thirty-two years of this prolonged war (1455-1487), there were sporadic battles with enormous loss of life, and – as the book so clearly illustrates – various men popping on and off the throne.
Given this long and convoluted history, the author, Tony Riches, does a yeoman’s job of taking us carefully through the years of involvement of Jasper Tudor in preserving and saving the Lancaster (Tudor) line, established by the marriage of his father Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudor of Wales to Katherine of Valois. Katherine was the widow of the warring Henry V and mother of Henry’s son Henry VI.
As in the book, the real Jasper fought in battles, sieges and skirmishes and faced challenges from many sides, including friends who became enemies and enemies who became friends. In the War of the Roses, people flipped sides to improve their lot or just to save themselves, a never-ending game of chess.
Jasper’s path to putting a Tudor on the throne was determined by his brother’s son Henry, who together with his mother, Margaret, was given to him for safekeeping. The brother, Edmund, died of plague in 1456. His father, Owen, whose story is the first book, dies at the beginning of the second, in 1461, as a member of Jasper’s army in the battle of Mortimer’s Cross. He is captured and beheaded by Edward of York, and in the book, his death drives Jasper through the next decades and is the basis of his decisions of life and death for his enemies.
Jasper’s life is written as a series of unexpected and seemingly impossible escapes from death as he is pursued by York forces from Wales to Ireland to France and back. Along the way, the reader meets any number of fascinating characters, some real and some created: Gabriel, an Irish warrior and horse whisperer, who serves as a connection between Jasper and home and as the author relates, is the probably combination of a number of servants and friends; Lady Margaret, who gave birth to Henry at age 12 and who becomes the consummate politician, guaranteeing her survival and that of her son through deliberate subsequent marriages: Henry VI, a deeply religious man who experiences a mental breakdown during the protracted war, and spends time on both the throne and in the Tower of London as a prisoner; Máiréad, a young Irish woman with whom Jasper falls in love and takes with him on his wanderings but doesn’t marry; and Francis, Duke of Burgundy, a wily player in the French political scene.
Jasper Tudor was the greatest survivor of the Wars of the Roses, a man whose perseverance changed the course of English history. The author’s attention to the details of the often brutal world of the fifteenth century is exceptional and provides a rich background to a fast-paced story of courage and adventure and love and strength of family.
For aficionados of historical fiction with a strong basis in fact, this is a book you will love.
4.5 stars out of 5
About the author
Tony Riches was born in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and spent part of his childhood in Kenya. He gained a BA degree in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University and worked as a Management Consultant, followed by senior roles in the Welsh NHS and Local Government.
After writing several successful non-fiction books, Tony decided to turn to novel writing. His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period. His novels Warwick, The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham have both become Amazon best sellers.
Today Tony has returned to Pembrokeshire, an area full of inspiration for his writing, where he lives with his wife. In his spare time he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.
Visit Tony online at www.tonyriches.co.uk, Tony Riches Author on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @tonyriches.