Henry VI is nine months old when he ascends the throne. His father, the great warrior king Henry V died of dysentery while campaigning in France. Henry V was a strong ruler, called the Lion, while his son is weak, pious and easily swayed is called ‘The Lamb’.
The story starts when King Henry VI is looking for a treaty with France. Spymaster Derihew Brewer is charged with the ungrateful task of making a deal with the French King. After months of working, meeting and discussing, a treaty is agreed. King Henry VI will marry Margaret of Anjou, a niece of the king and the English domains of Anjou and Maine will refer back to the French crown. Slowely but surely all the English citizens of Anjou and Maine have to flee and leave everything behind. They have to return to England, as poor as paupers.
Living in Maine is Thomas Woodchurh, an English ex- longbow. He refuses to give up his farm and decides to fight back. Together with his son and some other discontent Englishmen, they fight the French Army, with the result the French feel the treaty has been broken and they’re allowed to win back Normandy as well. Meanwhile in England, Jack Cade is the head of a rebellion of angry, discontent refugees from France. They are angry about losing their lands and their homes and want to see blood.
England needs a strong ruler, but there is a weak King on the throne. While England’s power in France is crumbling, the Duke of York is convinced he should be king. He is after all, a descendant of Edward’s III son Lional of Antwerp and has a greater claim to the throne than this weakling.
Thus begins The War of the Roses. Lancaster vs York. Brother against brother, nephew against nephew.
This is the first book in Iggulden’s trilogy of the War of the Roses. It covers England’s loss of France and the decay of Henry VI. When I saw this book in the bookshop, I was really excited. But after reading it, I have mixed feelings.
The thing that bother me the most, was that I thought there would be more Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI and less Jack Cade and Thomas Woodchurch. Big chunks of the book are dedicated to those two figurers whom I couldn’t care less about. But that’s just my opinion off cours. I know Jack Cade is an important figure, but I was quite done with him after a few chapters. The same goes with Thomas Woodchurch. I understand his part in the story, bit it’s a bit too much.
Setting that aside, this is quite a good read. There is a lot of action, maybe a bit too much. Jack’s rebellion got a bit boring at the end. As I said, I would have loved some more Margaret of Anjou but maybe that’s still to come in the second and third novel. I am looking forward to reading them!
My general opinion: buy that book!
Publisher: Michael Joseph