The Beggar’s Throne
Just when you thought there must be nothing new to write about the Wars of the Roses, along comes this well-researched, highly entertaining novel. It recounts events of this turbulent period from Wakefield up through after Tewkesbury, from the points of view of both royalty/nobility as well as the common folk. Within one thread, the future Edward IV seeks to consolidate power for the House of York, despite changing loyalties even amongst his own followers. In another, intertwining tale, the fictional Miller brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. Christopher, a family man, remains stubbornly loyal to the Lancastrians, while Samuel, the younger son, joins the Yorkists after witnessing the Earl of Rutland’s cruel murder by a Lancastrian nobleman. The plot is further enhanced by the presence of a young woman who seeks help from the Millers while trying to keep the Queen’s secret letter from falling into the wrong hands.
The author brings a human touch to this well-known time in history, and there’s hardly a character who’s given short shrift. Henry VI is fascinatingly depicted as a sad yet somehow dignified figure who correctly prophesizes future events. Wandering ragged from one castle to another, seeking shelter, the former king becomes one of the “beggars” of the title. Also of particular interest is the portrayal of Edward IV in his early years before the throne, a time period rarely explored by novelists.
In all, the novel does an excellent job of illustrating the uncertainty of life and loyalties during these changing times. The action is nonstop, and readers can’t help but be pulled along for the ride. Highly recommended to fans of medieval fiction.