Written by Livi Michael
Review by Mary Fisk

Accession concludes Livi Michael’s Wars of the Roses trilogy, begun in Succession (HNR 71) and Rebellion (HNR 74). We begin in the aftermath of the Lancastrian defeat at Tewkesbury in 1471. Jasper Tudor flees England with his nephew, Henry. Margaret Beaufort, only in her twenties but thrice married, twice widowed, reluctantly negotiates her fourth marriage to the slippery Thomas Stanley. Meanwhile, the bereaved former queen, Margaret of Anjou, is placed under house arrest.

The Yorkists are in the ascendant, and young Henry Tudor grows to manhood in dangerous exile while his mother schemes for what she sees as her son’s birthright – the crown of England. Fraternal rivalries undermine the House of York, setting in motion events that take us to the inevitable climax at Bosworth Field in 1485.

As in the previous volumes, Livi Michael skilfully splices her chorus of narrative voices with contemporary chronicles and other accounts of the times. The focus of this final volume inevitably shifts so that this becomes centred on Margaret Beaufort and her son. Some of the best scenes are with the lesser known players in incidents imagined rather than documented – learned Alice Chaucer, Queen Margaret’s reluctant gaoler, attempts to console the royal prisoner; Jane Shore, left without a protector after the death of King Edward, submits to Lord Hastings and Thomas Rivers out of necessity rather than love.

Occasionally there is a touch of the history lesson when characters sit down to explain a particularly tortuous situation to each other, but mostly this moves with the pace of a thriller, though one suffused with a sense of loss and impending tragedy.  We, of course, know the outcome – the characters do not and their futures, and the future of England are convincingly on a knife-edge. A grand and stirring conclusion to a fascinating trilogy.