What I'm reading, what I'm thinking of reading & what I've read. And stuff.
I originally read this sometime in the late '80s, and then again in 2004. This review was written after the 2004 reading.
From the back cover: In 1536, the murder of the princes in the Tower is still within living memory
I have read this book once before 17 years ago now, when a friend brought it back from a visit to England. I remember that I enjoyed it greatly at the time, and that I wished I might own my own copy. Finally I got my wish.
The story starts in Croyland Abbey, where the Abbot is entertaining two dangerous guests. One is Chancellor John Rayne, who is in all probability an instrument of Thomas Cromwell in his crusade to suppress the monasteries. The other is Robert Aske, A pert lawyer from the north, who seeks a leader to whose banner those who wish to retain the old faith will flock. They come to Croyland for information secret records and histories from 50 years earlier concerning the end of the Plantagenets. Eventually the Abbot agrees to let the sharpest intellect in his community Brother Thomas investigate further than the Abbeys library to see if he can uncover the fate of the princes in the Tower, and find a living Plantagenet male who could supplant Henry VIII on the throne.
The first third of the book is mostly dialogue between the Abbot, the Prior, Rayne, Aske and Brother Thomas. I found it a bit arduous, but the purpose was to communicate the information surrounding the end of the Plantagenets as far as it was known at the time, and then contrast it with the information contained in Croylands library - in particular The Croyland Chronicle; a record of events written by a number of different anonymous authors though the years. Once Brother Thomas sets out on his quest I found my enjoyment of the book increased sharply.
About halfway through the book I remembered how the story climaxed, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the tale. It is a welcome addition to my Yorkist library, and I happily recommend it, especially to those who like their fiction historical, or possibly their history fictionalised!
To close: a sentence from the Authors Note "All I claim for my version of events is that it is as plausible as the one circulated by three earlier practitioners of the art of crime fiction: H. Tudor, T. More and W. Shakespeare." Well said, Mr Potter.