David Field begins a new series that is perfect for fans of the famed Tudor monarchy in England. In a tale that parallels historical record, Field is able to recount the life of the man who would become Henry VII, pulling on a great deal of history rarely touched by historians who seek to broadly present his accomplishments. Beginning in his youth, Henry was a sickly boy, but always determined to make the most of that which was placed before him. Son of Edmund Tudor (1st Earl of Richmond) and Margaret Beaufort provided a strong beginning in what would be an interesting early life. Watching his English homeland shaped by political and monarchical instability, Henry came of age during the War of the Roses, a collection of battles that would see England’s foundational base shift significantly and that would play a key role in Henry’s later life. Wrestling control away from a rival group seeking the throne, Henry’s ascendancy to power was helped along by a strong-willed uncle—Jasper—and determined mother, as Field effectively shows throughout. In his adulthood, Henry sought to leave an impact on history and in his own life, seeing allegiances shift throughout and never sure whom he can trust. However, the question of marriage loomed over him, forcing Henry to look for a partner, if only to assuage the worries of his family. His marriage to Elizabeth of York—daughter of Edward IV and niece to the rival Richard III—proved significant. With the English Throne in his sights, Henry did all he could to pave the way towards his own ascendancy and defeated Richard III on the battlefield to end the War of the Roses and secure the English Throne, thereafter becoming Henry VII, first of the Tudor monarchs. Ruling England, Henry sought political alliances to strengthen a still weak country, looking to the continent, where he worked to create marriage pacts for his children (something history will show proved fruitful with influence both on the Continent and in Scotland), especially his eldest son, Arthur, and Katherine of Aragon. While few could recount much of Henry’s early decisions as monarch, many will know how things progressed through his children’s lives. Field is prepared to offer five more novels to develop this exciting time in English history, which one can only hope will be as well developed as this opening piece. A powerful debut that will keep Tudor fans rushing to learn a little more about the era and its key characters. Recommended to those who enjoy the Tudors and especially the reader who wishes to learn as they are highly entertained.
David Field has a writing style that pulls the reader in from the opening pages. He seeks to mix the wonders of history with an easy to understand fictional account. His characters are quite relatable and seem to fit nicely into the historical goings-on. Henry, who serves as protagonist throughout, finds himself coming to terms with England’s ever-changing dynamic. He never sees himself as leadership material but steps up when the time comes to represent England effectively. Field does well to depict the evolution of his life from a sickly youth to a man whose world is shattered when his first son dies before ascending to the throne. There are a handful of key characters whose presence helps to develop this complex time in English history, especially during the Civil War that saw two rival Houses vie for control. The story stood out as strong, weaving history and fictional accounting of events together like many other Tudor writers I have read in the past. Field argues effectively in his note to readers that Henry VII has received so little discussion in the history books, and yet his life was full of many curious paths and tidbits that historical writers could have a field day (pardon the pun). While I admit that I sometimes struggled to make things stick in my mind, this is not from a lack of strong writing by Field or a disinterest in the topic at hand. Those who enjoy learning something will be able to use Field’s attention to detail while they open their mind to the birth of the Tudor Dynasty. A powerful piece that should not be missed, though surely not as breezy as his other series, set in the Victorian era.
Kudos, Mr. Field, for a great start to this series. I will keep my eyes open for the remaining five books, seeking to learn a little something to further my knowledge of all things Tudor.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons