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Three generations of the Tudor dynasty ruled England between 1485 and 1603. A wealth of fiction has been written about the Tudors: mostly about Henry VIII (and his wives) and Elizabeth I. Some fiction has been written about Edward VI and Mary I, but very little about Henry VII the founder of the dynasty.
Henry Tudor (1457-1509) ruled over England for 24 years from 1485. He was the son of Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond and Margaret Beaufort. Edmund Tudor was half-brother to Henry VI of England; Margaret Beaufort was descended from Edward III. Her descent was illegitimate, through Edward III’s son John of Gaunt and his mistress, Catherine Swynford. During Henry’s childhood, as the War of the Roses raged, the crown either belonged to Henry VI of Lancaster or Edward IV of York.
In this novel, Mr Field follows the life of Henry Tudor from the age of 12, through his semi-captivity, his years of exile in France, his return to England and his rule as Henry VII. We see a cautious boy become a cautious man, and then a careful king. I won’t recount more of the history here: Mr Field includes the major events of Henry VII’s reign and prepares the scene for the second of six books which will make up his Tudor saga.
While I’m pleased to read fiction featuring Henry VII, some aspects of the storytelling didn’t work well for me. Would Henry VII have smirked, I wondered? Would he have sworn on a bible that he had nothing to do with the death of the royal princes consigned to the Tower by Richard of Gloucester? Perhaps. On the other hand, I could appreciate Henry VII’s insecurity as first one and then a second rebellion was raised against him. I could also appreciate some of the challenges he had to meet because years of civil war had depleted the treasury.
I enjoyed the novel and will be interested in reading the second.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
Tudor Dawn is a gripping account of the rise and reign of Henry VII. I have read many novels about the Tudors, but none which have focused on this particular era in their history. The novel paints a fascinating picture of a man who was so much more than just the father of the more famous Henry VIII. The journey the reader is taken on spans Henry’s youth, spent in captivity, his courageous taking of the crown under the guidance of his trusted supporters and his growth into the powerful King Henry VII. Although he always put politics and diplomatic considerations first, his humanity is highlighted in the part he played as a son, husband and father. The tale ends with his death and the promise of the ascension to the throne of King Henry VIII. This novel is intriguing and highly recommended. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. Thanks to Sapere Books for the ARC.