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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The Seventh Son - Reay Tannahill I was not surprised to see in the author's notes that Tannahill recommended Charles Ross' biography of Richard III as a reliable nonfiction source because I had been reminded of his book the entire time I was reading hers. She does take a balanced, if sometimes dull, approach to Richard compared to many other modern authors who seem to paint him in an overly optimistic light. He is "a man of his times," a loyal but realistic nobleman, a man who knows that you cannot allow weaknesses to appear if you are to take control.

While Tannahill's characterization was not the most enjoyable that I have read, it is quite possible that it is accurate. This fiction account takes into consideration known facts and varying theories about Richard and his motivations. I can accept that he was not the ideal man in every way, but do wish she had painted him as a more loving husband. He also seemed to fall apart a little too much at the death of his brother. Maybe too many bad decision, and other people's ability to manipulate him, were explained away by the fact that he "just wasn't himself yet."

What I enjoyed most about this book was the way Tannahill explained how and why events happened and people made decisions that they made. She may not be correct, of course, but she at least created a motivation that makes sense unlike some other authors who give us people betraying Richard and leave us wondering why. A couple of these incidents seemed a little far fetched - Elizabeth leaving sanctuary because she was bored and all of the negative propaganda coming from Reginald Bray - but for the most part her reasoning was compelling. It made sense why Richard could become so vilified when he began as such a honorable, dependable, well-liked brother of the King.

If you are looking for a romanticized defense of Richard III, look elsewhere. However, if you would like a fictional story that gives a moderate view of how known facts could have fallen into place, read this book.