Пью второй месяц - кофе для похудения с имбирем. Очень довольна результатом!

Do You Love/Hate Richard III?

17 August 2008 — fuzzyhistory

Vulpes Libris will discuss Richard III during the week. “We won’t be providing any definitive answers this week, but we will – we hope – be offering a reasonably balanced overview of the most controversial and enigmatic monarch England has ever known.” Discussion topics include Shakespeare’s Richard III, Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour, Emma Darwin’s A Secret Alchemy (due out in the U.K. in November 2008), Sir John Everett Millais’ painting, The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, two different versions of Richard III in film, and Annette Carson’s Richard III: The Maligned King. Annette Carson will join in at the end of the week. (Tip of the hat to EC at Historicalfiction.org for the head’s up.)

Richard III Week

  • To Prove a Villain (Monday)
  • The Sunne in Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman (Tuesday)
  • Writing wrongs to make A Secret Alchemy (Wednesday)
  • The Shadows in History’s Eye (Thursday)
  • The Trouble with Richard III on Film, or just The Trouble with Richard III? (Friday)
  • The Maligned King by Annette Carson (Saturday)
  • Interview with Annette Carson (Sunday)

Historical Fiction on Alfred the Great

15 July 2008 — fuzzyhistory

Updated 30 August 2008. The reading list below comes out of a discussion in the Historical Fiction forum at PaperBackSwap.com. Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom was book of the month in July. While discussing it, a question about the historical accuracy of the characterization of King Alfred came up. Members also wanted to know about other historical fiction that deals with Alfred.

As Cornwell explains in the historical note, his characterization follows that of Alfred’s contemporary biographer, Bishop Asser. (For the full text of Asser’s biography, see Online Medieval and Classical Library.) 

The British Monarchy site states: “[A]t the age of 21, Alfred (reigned 871-99) was a strongminded but highly strung battle veteran….” Quoting Asser, the essay continues, ”‘Alfred attacked the whole pagan army fighting ferociously in dense order, and by divine will eventually won the victory, made great slaughter among them, and pursued them….’” Toward the end, it describes Alfred as a “religiously devout and pragmatic man” – all of which jibes with Cornwell’s portrayal.

In a review of The Last Kingdom entitled “Hits and Myths,” Bristol University research fellow Joanne Parker confirms the author’s reliance on Asser. ”Cornwell’s portrait of a sickly and sinful young Alfred is faithful to The Life of King Alfred, a history believed to have been written in or shortly after his reign, by a Welsh bishop called Asser.”

But the title of the review implies there is perhaps too much reliance on myth. Indeed, Parker wonders if Cornwell at times confused Alfred with Arthur. “Alfred’s name mysteriously mutates to ‘Arthur’ – the king who, throughout the 20th century, has so effectively supplanted the Saxon as the nation’s favourite medieval monarch.” (See pages 207 and 327 of the hardcover edition.)

There is an interesting discussion taking place on Historical Fiction Online regarding Cornwell’s characterization of Alfred.

Regarding additional historical novels that depict Alfred the Great, see the reading list below. Use the resources available in Find Books to locate copies of the novels below. Green titles comprise those I really enjoyed (Excellent to Very Good rating). If there is no comment following the title, I haven’t read the book.

The Dragon and the Raven: The Days of King Alfred by G. A. Henty. Juvenile fiction about a young Alfred. No reading level provided.

The Edge of Light by Joan Wolf. Biographical fiction on Alfred flavored with romance. This is the last book in a trilogy on early British history. It includes The Road to Avalon (#1) and Born of the Sun (#2).

The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle. Juvenile biographical fiction (Gr. 5 – 8) on Aethelflaed, the teenaged daughter of King Alfred.

Escape to King Alfred by Geoffrey Trease. Juvenile adventure story (Gr. 5 – 8) surrounding Danish invasions during King Alfred’s reign.

The Flame in the Dark by Basil Bonallack. On the first years of Alfred’s reign.

King Alfred’s Viking by Charles W. Whistler. Subtitled A Story of the First English Fleet, the book description states it involves “Alfred’s rise to the throne as seen through the eyes of an outsider, Ranald the Viking.”

The King Liveth by Jeffery Farnol. Carries the subtitle, A Romance of Alfred the Great Based on the Old Chronicles.

The King of Athelney by Alfred Duggan. Alternate title is The Right Line of Cerdic. Biographical novel on Alfred. It’s also a sequel to Conscience of the King, which is on the life of Cerdic Elesing, King of Wessex.

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell. This is the first book in the Saxon Chronicles. Alfred is a young man – in his late teens or about 20. To date, subsequent titles are The Pale Horseman, The Lords of the North and Sword Song. Read my review of The Last Kingdom.

The Price of Blood by Doris Sutcliffe Adams. “A historical novel of the England during the reign of King Alfred, at the time of Viking invasions in the 9th century. A Christian Dane named Niall, who is taken prisoner after having been shipwrecked on the coast of Devon, is torn between loyalty to his fellow Danes and the people of Christian faith.” (BookSplendour Catalog at Biblio.com)

Raven’s Wind by Victor Canning. A boy serves Alfred before he becomes king. Possibly young adult fiction.

Wulnoth the Wanderer by Herbert Inman. Cited in Historical Fiction And Other Reading References For Classes In Junior And Senior High Schools by Hannah Logasa, this is probably young adult fiction. It carries the subtitle, A Story of King Alfred of England

Historical Fiction on Edward, the Black Prince

9 July 2008 — fuzzyhistory

 

The son of Philippa and Edward III, Edward (1330-1376) preceded his father in death by a little more than a year, and thus, never became king. History recognizes his prowess as a military leader against the French during the Hundred Years’ War. According to Thomas Costain, he earned the sobriquet because “he wore black armor at the battle of Crecy, [which was] supplied by his father” (The Three Edwards, 1962, p. 267). But the title came later, after his death.

Edward married Joan of Kent in what was probably a love-match. They had 2 children – Edward, who died in childhood, and the future Richard II.

Use the resources available in Find Books to locate copies of these novels. Green titles comprise those I really enjoyed (Excellent to Very Good rating). If there is no comment following the title, I haven’t read the book.

The Archer’s Tale by Bernard Cornwell. The Hundred Years’ War supplies the background to this tale about the quest for the holy grail. Edward makes an appearance. The U.K. title is Harlequin.

The Black Plantagenet Pamela Bennetts.

The First Princess of Wales by Karen Harper. On Joan of Kent’s romance with Edward. Criticized for historical inaccuracy.

Katherine by Anya Seton. On John of Gaunt’s romance with Katherine Swynford. Edward and Joan appear within.

Lady of the Garter by Juliet Dymoke. The story centers around Joan of Kent, who married Edward for love after 2 previous marriages.

The Lady Royal by Molly Costain Haycraft. Biographical fiction about Edward’s sister, Isabella de Coucy.

Passage to Pontefract by Jean Plaidy. As Richard II and Henry IV struggle for the throne, the rivalry between Edward and John of Gaunt is provided as background.

Sir Nigel by Arthur Conan Doyle. Takes place during the Hundred Years’ War. While not focusing on Edward, the Black Prince appears within.

The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle. Takes place during the Hundred Years’ War. While not focusing on Edward, the Black Prince appears within.

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

8 July 2008 — fuzzyhistory

The first book in The Saxon Chronicles introduces the fictional Uhtred, a 10-year-old boy whose family holds Bebbanburg (now Bamburgh Castle) in Northumbria. The year is 866 and the Danes have begun to invade the northern regions of what is now England. When they strike Bebbanburg, a Dane named Ragnar captures Uhtred, and then raises him as a son.

Through the eyes of a boy who longs to be a warrior, Cornwell presents the Danish side of the story. The Danes believe the English kings are weak. Indeed, they raid Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia with relative ease, destroying monasteries, churches, nunneries and the English way of life.

A gifted storyteller, Cornwell makes you feel a part of these violent times. He describes not only the raids and the killings in graphic detail, but the mindset. “Start your killers young, before their consciences are grown. Start them young and they will be lethal.”

To break up the intensity of the slaughter, Cornwell interjects humor. It is, however, a humor even more irreverent than what appears in the Sharpe series.

“Your gods are false gods,” King Edmund of East Anglia tells the Danes.

“Prove it,” they respond, which leads to a discussion of how the Christian god influences events through His will.

A Dane asks, “So would your god protect you from my arrows?” Edmund responds that He would if it were His will.

“We shall shoot arrows at you….” Unable to back down from his stance about God’s will, Edmund stands before the archers, who, of course, kill him. “Nowadays, of course, [remarks Uhtred] that story is never told; instead children learn how brave Saint Edmund stood up to the Danes, demanded their conversion, and was murdered. So now he is a martyr and a saint, warbling happily in heaven, but the truth is that he was a fool and talked himself into martyrdom.”

Regarding King Alfred of Wessex (Alfred the Great), he portrays a man who is pious and sick, though intelligent and wise in the ways of warfare. He cunningly tricks Uhtred – after Ragnar’s death – into fighting for him. Alfred and the region of Cornwalum are the final holdouts by the end of the first book.

Since this is my second reading of The Last Kingdom, which I perhaps enjoyed more than the first reading, I can rate it none other than excellent. The Pale Horseman is the next book in the series, followed by Lords of the North and Sword Song. (Click the image above to purchase the novel from Amazon. Fuzzy History receives a small commission for the referral).

Posted in Alfred the Great, Book Reviews. Tags: , , . Comments Off

Historical Fiction on Richard III

2 July 2008 — fuzzyhistory

Updated 7 September 2008. The 30 years (1455-1485) that make up the Wars of the Roses – a period of intermittent civil strife between Lancastrians and Yorkists - tested the character of many a man. Much historical fiction stems from this era. Add to the troubled times, an unsolved mystery involving the disappearance of two princes, and you have the perfect background for a story. Since Richard III reigned at the time of their disappearance, and since the Battle of Bosworth, where he died, marks the end of the Wars, it was perhaps inevitable that he become a frequent subject of historical fiction. Thus, I’ll start the pathfinders to which I refer in my introductory post, with him.

Use the resources available in Find Books to locate copies of these novels. Or for books currently available at Amazon, follow the title links. Fuzzy History receives a small commission for referral purchases.

Green titles comprise those I really enjoyed (Excellent to Very Good rating). If there is no comment following the title, I haven’t read the book.

Broken Sword by Rhoda Edwards. Very dry reading that covers the last 2 years of Richard’s reign. For the earlier years, see Fortune’s Wheel.

Crown of Roses by Valerie Anand. Realistic character portrayal.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard assesses the character of Richard III from his hospital bed. Somewhat dated ideas. Pro-Ricardian.

Fortune’s Wheel by Rhoda Edwards. Dry reading that covers the early years of Edward IV’s reign, when Richard served as his loyal second-man. For Richard’s reign, see Broken Sword.

The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. First in a series that stretches from the Wars of the Roses to present day, this story features brief appearances from Richard III. It’s sympathic.

The Killing of Richard the Third by Robert Farrington. The first book in a trilogy that features an amateur secret agent. It covers the years, 1483 to 1495. Pro-Ricardian. The other two titles in the series are Tudor Agent and The Traitors of Bosworth.

The King’s Bed by Margaret Campbell Barnes.

King’s Ransom by Glenn Pierce.

The Lodestar by Pamela Belle. The main character joins the Duke of Gloucester’s household. The novel suggests one possibility concerning the fate of the young princes. The book is considered a prequel to the author’s English Civil War series.

The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters. While I enjoyed the early books in the author’s Amelia Peabody mystery series, I couldn’t finish this one. Roxane C. Murph, past chairman of the American Branch of the Richard III Society, said this about it: ”The Murders of Richard III has been rather controversial. I enjoyed the book, and was surprised by the unfavorable reactions of some Ricardians. Peters pokes fun at some of the more uncritical defenders of the king, but there is no malice in her work. I suppose it just proves that some of us are over-sensitive on the subject, or perhaps we take ourselves too seriously at times.”

Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett. A sub-plot centers around what happened to one of the princes, but the book itself is not about Richard III. Major characters include Sir Thomas More and the German artist, Hans Holbein.

Richard III by Shakespeare. Largely exaggerated, historically inaccurate, but nonetheless a great classic.

The Rose at Harvest End by Eleanor Fairburn. Book 3 in a four-part series on Cicely Neville, Richard III’s mother. This one covers 1461 to the death of Edward IV in 1483. Other titles in the series: The Rose in Spring (#1), White Rose, Dark Summer (#2) and Winter’s Rose (#4).

A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith. An imagined love story about Richard III and his fictional mistress, Kate Haute.

Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewynne. A historical romance with the typical cheesy cover of a bodice-ripper. But consumer comments indicate it portrays better-than-average historical research.

The Rose of York: Love & War by Sandra Worth. This title is the first in a series. I thought the characterizations were over-the-top. Purple prose. Pro-Ricardian. There are two more in the series: Crown of Destiny and Fall from Grace.

The Seventh Son by Reay Tannahill. A bit on the dry side, the author gives a balanced portrayal of Richard III. He’s neither evil nor a saint.

The Sun In Splendor by Juliet Dymoke.

The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. An epic novel of the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III. Pro-Ricardian.

To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell.

Treason by Meredith Whitford.

Under the Hog by Patrick Carleton. I haven’t read this one yet. It can be difficult to track down at a reasonable price. Originally published in 1938, it is a pro-Ricardian classic.

We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman. I haven’t read this one. Romantic. Pro-Ricardian.

The White Rose by Jan Westcott. I haven’t read this one. Westcott wrote more romance than historical fiction. Former Richard III Society Fiction Librarian, Jeanne Trahan Faubell, says The White Rose is “a romantic novel greatly sympathetic to Elizabeth and Anthony Woodville.”

Additional Resources

Barton Library Catalogue (Richard III Society)

Medieval Fiction Reading List

Ricardian Fiction: Trash and Treasures

The Wars of the Roses: Fiction