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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Survival (White Hawk III) by David Pilling

The White Hawk (III): Survival (Volume 3) - David Pilling


I have loved the entire White Hawk series, but this may be my favorite. I was first drawn to David Pilling's writing when I happened to pick up the first book in the White Hawk series as a Kindle freebie. This series is a great reason to give independent authors a chance!


In this climactic conclusion of the Bolton family story has them finding their redemption in the Lancastrian cause. Displaced and practically distinguished by the Yorkist armies, the Boltons have been brought low by civil war. Pilling leads the reader to the end of the York dynasty by following the characters Martin and Elizabeth Bolton, Richard Plantagenet (don't call him King Richard), and Henry Tudor. Through these varied points of view, the reader sees that none of them are a true hero or the salvation of England, but each has a strong devotion to the cause that they feel best serves their homeland.


The author's Richard is slightly Shakespearean, but also completely believable. While I enjoy reading all characterizations of Richard from maligned king to evil villain, my one standard is that he be written in a way that I can be convinced might be true. Pilling has done that with his version of Richard that is clever, devout, and courageous, but lets his rage and ambition justify actions that alienate him from those he hopes to rule. Sometimes, he seemed even to hate himself as he pushed aside his morality to commit acts "in the interest of the realm".


Thankfully, Henry Tudor is also not written as the golden son of prophesy who saves England from the tyrannous usurper. He is a somewhat sneaky schemer who becomes a rallying point for disinherited and disillusioned Englishmen for lack of anyone better qualified.


I appreciate the author's efforts to create characters who are realistic and scenes that paint events as they truly could have occurred. War is a nasty business that the idea of chivalry and passing of time has attempted to paint in a glorious light. The White Hawk series reminds the reader of the gory truths and consequences when men take up arms.


A bonus short story  at the end of this novel prepare the reader for Pilling's future series set during the English Civil War.