English History Sagas

June 18, 2012

For a while now I’ve been reading Jean Plaidy’s series of historical fiction based on the English monarchy. I started with the Norman Conquest and have just gotten to the Tudors now. The Plantagenets took 14 books, so yeah, it’s basically a series of sagas.

The first two books in the Tudor saga: To Hold the Crown: The Story of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and Katharine the Virgin Widow haven’t thrilled me. I thought To Hold the Crown and The Sun in Splendour (the final book in the Plantagenet saga) were interesting in their portrayal of Richard III, but Plaidy skips the tumultuous period of his reign, which I found disappointing. The action of Bosworth is recounted only referred to in passing as Henry VII fights to secure his seat on the throne.

My biggest issue with Katharine the Virgin Widow (besides the title) was that most of action occurring in this book had already happened in To Hold the Crown. In a series with so many books, I expect maybe one chapter of recap, but then I want to move forward. I understand the desire to tell the story from Katharine’s point of view, but Plaidy was able to do that fairly well in the initial book, so much of this one was a simple rehashing. I enjoyed it more toward the end where there was more of a deviation from To Hold the Crown and where Plaidy was able to take readers into the political intrigue of the time. This was where I felt the characterization of Katharine and the argument for a separate book made sense.

I may have to wait a while for the next books in the series as my local library doesn’t have any of them and my current moving situation makes an inter-library loan request seem like a bad idea. Waiting until I move might be the best option, but then I’ll have to wait until I get settled and acquainted with the closest library and their inter-library loan system. I would consider buying them if there weren’t so many of them and if I wasn’t so poor. Maybe there’s a cheap box set somewhere? If I have a free moment I’ll research that…

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