Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
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I have read several other novels by Tony Riches, including the first in this series, Owen, so I knew what to expect in terms of writing style. Riches creates his stories the way I like to see historical fiction written, by researching his topic thoroughly and then creatively filling in the gaps. I particularly enjoyed the Author's Note, where Riches' enthusiasm for following the footsteps of Jasper Tudor is clear in his description of his travels and research.
If the Tudor era seems overdone, you may appreciate that this author is looking at some historical figures who were vital to the founding of the Tudor dynasty yet have not had much written on them. Rather than featuring Henry VIII and his gaggle of wives, Riches' trilogy features the men who gave the dynasty it's name. Owen, in the first book, makes a vital connection between the Tudors and England's royal family when he married the widowed queen, Catherine of Valois, who gave birth to sons who were the king's half-brothers. In this second book, the story of one of those sons, Jasper, takes over.
Jasper's brother, Edmund, may have been the one with a story to tell here if he had not tragically died while his exceptionally young wife was pregnant. Margaret Beaufort probably needs no further introduction, and she is portrayed as the strong and devout woman that she undoubtedly was in this novel. She leans upon her brother-in-law, Jasper, when she is left a 13 year old widow and mother in a country being torn apart by civil war.
What stands out most about this novel is Jasper's failures. I think we tend to think of him as Henry Tudor's greatest supporter (which he was), and he is given much credit for Henry's rise. He deserves most of this, of course, but there were many others who made victory possible, and many of those others had not lost and fled from battle nearly the number of times Jasper Tudor had. It makes the outcome of Bosworth Field even more outrageous.
The declaration of Henry as king is where this story ends, though I am certain we will see much more of Jasper in the final installment of this trilogy, Henry, due out next year.