Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Winter King by Thomas Penn

It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and countercoups. Through luck, guile and ruthlessness, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings, had clambered to the top of the heap--a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England's throne. For many he remained a usurper, a false king. But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Queen Elizabeth was a member of the House of York. Henry himself was from the House of Lancaster, so between them they united the warring parties that had fought the bloody century-long Wars of the Roses. Now their older son, Arthur, was about to marry a Spanish princess. On a cold November day sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon arrived in London for a wedding that would mark a triumphal moment in Henry's reign.

In this remarkable book, Thomas Penn re-creates the story of the tragic, magnetic Henry VII--a controlling, paranoid, avaricious monarch who was entering the most perilous years of his long reign.

Rich with drama and insight, "Winter King "is an astonishing story of pageantry, treachery, intrigue and incident--and the fraught, dangerous birth of Tudor England.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Penguin Books (first published September 29th 2011)

Coming on the heels of reading Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir I thought it would be interesting to read a nonfiction about Henry VII.  This is Thomas Penn's debut and a good one it is.  So much has been written about his son Henry VIII but very little on Henry VII.

You can definitely tell that a lot of research has gone into this book and that the author knows his stuff.  From having to secure the throne from Richard III, dealing with the threats of usurpers and not sure who he could trust, this book portrayed an insecure and paranoid king.

The book does not move in a total chronological order but does jump back and forth in time, it was a little confusing a couple times, especially since this was an audio read for me.  At one point Henry has just had the crown placed on his head in Bosworth, next thing it's 1497, I thought my iPod was set to shuffle. Once I realized that this is the writers style I was ok.

One of the things I  liked was seeing main characters from the court of Henry VIII (Thomas More, Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Wriothesley and their early role in Tudor England.

A very interesting book that will appeal to those who love to read about the Tudors.

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