‘Wars of the Roses: Bloodline’ by Conn Iggulden

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Two men may claim a crown.
But only one can wear it…
Winter 1461: Richard of York’s head is on a spike.
As the Lancastrian Queen Margaret rides South with her victorious army she seeks to free her captured husband, King Henry VI.
With the death of York, her army appears invincible. Yet, in killing the father, Margaret has unleashed the sons.
Edward of March, now Duke of York, proclaims himself England’s King.
Brother confronts brother. King faces King. And blood will run deep in English soil…

The third installment of Conn Iggulden’s ‘Wars of the Roses’ series was very enjoyable. It began after the death of Richard of York and the Earl of Salisbury and showed the wars that their sons Warwick and Edward of March began to avenge the murders.

The thing I really loved about this book was that it finally gave me a reason for my strange love of Warwick. Before this book I adored his character but I never really knew why, I had an intense dislike of all those he aligned himself with and, as I suspect Iggulden wanted, I had myself firmly aligned with the Lancastrian side. But when I read this book I finally had a reason to side with Warwick. With the introduction of the interfering Elizabeth Woodville, who turned the new King Edward IV against his cousin and most loyal supporter, Warwick was finally in the position of gaining the sympathy of the author and thereby the reader.

The great thing about Iggulden is that he doesn’t just show you one character in one light. Throughout the series he adapts the light he shines on his characters which allows you to see their humanity and gives him a greater scope for who at that moment is the “hero” and who is the “villain”. In ‘Trinity’ Edward of March is clearly a brave young boy turned man who is the personification of his fathers hopes and dreams, of the strong future of his house. By ‘Bloodline’ he is a reckless youth who proclaims himself King and is bewitched by an older woman seeking power for herself and her family. Edward goes from being an innocent boy to being an arrogant man, beloved by all but also quick to forget any loyalty or debt he owes to the Nevilles. He is blinded by his love, or lust, for his wife and begins to see the family that gave him his throne and even his own brother as a threat.

Elizabeth Woodville is an interesting character and not one that I am even remotely fond of. Perhaps its because of her vendetta against the Nevilles but her control over Edward seems sinister and is unnerving. Her smug gloating in front of the Nevilles is unbearable and I couldn’t help but hope that something awful was going to happen to her. It makes me want to read the next book, just in the hope that her enemies give her her comeuppance.

All in all, I did love this book and the brilliant way it was written. I can’t fault the storyline although I have to admit I didn’t find it as entertaining as the first two. Perhaps it was because there was a distinct lull in the fight between Lancaster and York. This book seemed almost more filler although that obviously wasn’t the fault of the writer. It was necessary to the story and although there were lots of events that frustrated me (Warwick’s kidnapping of Edward, for example) I still really enjoyed reading it and despite the slower nature of the plot I never lost interest.

5-stars

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