This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the late Plantagenet era. The Beauforts are a family that hovers around the edges of royalty for a century before they seemingly disappear . . . . except that the last Beaufort, by blood if not by name, is on the throne.
Amin unravels the complicated family ties of the Beauforts, creating clarity for anyone who has wondered how this 'bastard line' managed to hold such incredible power. By the time of the Wars of the Roses, the Beaufort family had spread and married into enough noble lines that there were truly those with Beaufort blood on both sides, including Edward IV himself through his mother, Cecily Neville. Somehow, the author manages to explain all these interwoven relationships without making the reader's head spin. For that alone, this book deserves every one of those 5 stars.
I appreciated that this was a balanced look at each person included. Yes, the focus is the Beauforts, but their weaknesses and mistakes are covered just as thoroughly as their strengths and triumphs. Unlike some modern non-fiction, I do not feel a need to label this as a narrative leaning in any particular direction or favoring a certain point-of-view. It is simply a comprehensive and understandable record of the Beaufort family from its birth, through a tumultuous and stunning rise, until its tragic end. (Unless you count Henry Tudor as a Beaufort, then they claim the ultimate victory.)
This book is the brilliant result of tireless research and a passion to reveal the truth about a family that is always mentioned on the periphery of historical events without often managing to be the focus. The Beauforts deserved this book, and it will help clarify the family's role to anyone who has only encountered them through historical fiction.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the author for review purposes, but I will be purchasing it in hardcover because I see it being a source that I will wish to reference again and again.