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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes - Bertram Fields This book was impossible to put down! Fields does an excellent job of analyzing the difficult questions relating to Richard III and the princes in the tower. He expertly separates the issues of Richard's motivations for taking the throne, whether or not the princes were really killed, and if they were who did it. He quotes several sources and discusses their reliability and views the potential truths with a lawyer's eye. His research includes contemporary sources, current writers, and everyone in between. Though I enjoyed the level of detail and discussion in this book, I can understand how others may feel inundated with facts and theories. Certainly if you are a Plantagenat fan you will enjoy this book. Not that Fields attempts to exonerate Richard III. Taking his balanced and thorough approach, he can only say that we don't know if Richard killed his nephews and that there are other suspects. I enjoyed the chapter where he analyzed the motives and opportunities of these other suspects and could have had more on this particular topic. Unlike other authors, Fields does not pretend that he can with certaintly solve this 500+ year old murder/disappearance.

Others have commented on Fields' attacks on Weir throughout the book. I will agree that at times it seems that his driving force shifts from solving a mystery to proving Weir wrong. Knowing that Fields is a lawyer, I couldn't help at times envisioning him as the prosecuting attorney and Weir as the defense. On the other hand, I appreciated knowing that Weir does not take the unbiased, educated approach to each of her topics since I have read several of her books. I do think though that attacking her with such drama showed a lack of professionalism on Fields' part when it is unnecessary since he does a fabulous job of making his case without it.

I enjoyed how Fields looked at the case from many perspectives - did Richard have the motive, opportunity, & character to kill the princes, and so forth. He never assumes that they died at any certain time or that they were even murdered. He also does not assume that the Richard portrayed by Tudor historians is fully accurate, though he does use those sources to attempt to determine Richard's character along with other sources. In the end, we still don't know if those little skeletons were really a boy king and his brother or if their uncle was a ruthless killer. I will chose to believe that Richard was the loyal, accomplished King who trusted the wrong people and went to his death too soon, but Fields writes his analysis in a way that you are free to believe either one.