I was introduced to Tony Riches when I read his Tudor Trilogy and reviewed all three books. I loved them and wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy another series from this author quite as well. I’m pleased to say that the first in the Brandon Trilogy – Mary, Tudor Princess – is very much up to what I’d hope for. The author creates plausible and well-rounded characters against the background of detailed and true history. His writing engages the reader’s interest and doesn’t let go.
Another draw for me was that the central character here is not Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, but Mary, his sister. In literature, she is eclipsed by the charisma and outrageousness of her brother and one might think Mary would be cunningly used by Henry as a pawn in his machinations to maintain and increase his power. As it turns out, Mary is as clever a Tudor as Henry.
As drawn by the author, Mary’s life is not an easy one. Her mother and father both died when she still young, and she knew her brother would use her marriage for political gains. Mary was first betrothed to Charles, the son of Philip I of Castile, who would become the Holy Roman Emperor. But when Henry sees a better opportunity for himself, the engagement is called off, and Henry sends her instead to France, where at the age of 18, she marries the elderly and ailing King Louis XII. She treats the king with kindness and respect, but when he dies, she wants to marry the man with whom she is already in love, Charles Brandon, the first Duke of Suffolk.
The author creates in Mary a clever, loyal and sympathetic woman, who risks the king’s anger to marry and raises both children and step children in a loving household. But the Tudor world is turbulent and dangerous, and she must carefully balance her affection for Queen Catherine against the machinations of the ambitious and calculating Ann Boleyn. Keeping her family and her husband safe against the predations of the royal court and Henry’s demands is occasionally overwhelming, especially later as she deals with a progressive illness.
I delighted in the detail of the court and was impressed with the difficulties from the political maneuvering and complex drama of Henry’s court that Mary had to manage. Mr. Riches draws a colorful web against the history of the time.
Mary – Tudor Princess is quite different from the books of the Tudor trilogy, and it took some adjustment on my part. It lacks in the head-long action of those trilogy books, seen from a male point of view, but this book presents Tudor history through a woman’s eyes – totally different, just as revealing, and just as much a compelling read. Kudos to the author.
I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, and especially to those enamored with the Tudor era, as something quite different in the telling.
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
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on Twitter @tonyriches.
Mary – Tudor Princess can be found on Amazon: