The Rose of York: Fall from Grace
End Table Books
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"A balanced and compassionate view of one of history’s notorious villains."
A balanced and compassionate view of one of history’s notorious villains.
King Richard III ascended to the throne to keep England from plunging into ruinous civil war and endless intrigue by keeping his dead brother Edward’s little boys from being crowned. He is a reluctant sovereign and a righteous man determined to earn the people’s love and respect by recreating the days of chivalry and honor like King Arthur. He changed the laws to protect the lower and middle classes from the nobility’s frequent abuses of power, building a new legal landscape.
At every turn, Richard is thwarted and undermined by traitors, men close to him honored with position, power, lands, and titles. Battling a swelling tide of discontent and pressure from the paid supporters of Henry Tudor, who want to supplant Richard and seize the throne, Richard must face the darkest hours of his short reign alone when his son and heir, Edward, and then his beloved queen, Anne Neville, die.
Shakespeare and the historical accounts of Richard III paint him a black devil who murdered his very young nephews, held in the Tower, to secure a throne he plots and schemes to retain. From a wealth of research and imagination, Sandra Worth offers a more compassionate history of Richard III in The Rose of York: Fall from Grace. The scholarship is evident in the attention to detail and the constant listing of the names of who is in attendance at privy council meetings, balls, celebrations, and journeys throughout the country, as well as in the position of the moon and sun during the period encompassing the book. Also evident is Worth’s more even-handed treatment of Richard who, in her hands, becomes less a villain and more an unwilling king and fully fleshed man who believes he can change his world with good works, and it works.
Worth makes it easy to believe in this more realistic monarch by vividly recreating the world and times in which he lived. Setting Richard amidst tumultuous times, brief happiness, and the ever-changing current of politics of the times provides a different perspective of the pressures that molded and shaped the history. In spite of a slow beginning, Worth captures the heart and imagination in an exciting climax. There are a few breaks in language, reverting to modern language and phrasing, that are a bit disconcerting but the historical spell Worth weaves makes it easy to get back into the natural flow of the narrative.
Aside from the often tedious litany of names reeled off for major, and a few minor, events, and the language breaks, Fall from Grace is a engaging and magical marriage of history and imagination that succeeds in illuminating this dark corner and touching the emotions.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell