Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
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I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this independently published novel, and am happy to give it a 4.5 star rating. Normally, I am more likely to give 1-star to a popular, million dollar novel that is a historical train wreck, so I should explain my deviance in the opposite direction on this little-known novel.
Brondarbit's Richard is realistic. He is not perfect, romantic, or enviable. He is also not a villain. Maybe it's not what readers are looking for, but he is written in this novel just as I could truly imagine him to have been. He is pious, intelligent, and, of course, loyal to a fault. The same traits that make him an able governor and the kind of guy you want on your side in a fight also make him easily manipulated, as he expects the same high standards of morality and loyalty from those around him that he holds himself to. Though he has governed the North of England with considerable skill before his brother's death, when he is thrown into the politics of London, he finds himself in over his head and unable to see the true motives of those who are pressing to be close to him. Sadly, he does not have long to determine the truth and by the time he is hardened into a more skeptical politician, he finds himself at Bosworth field.
I enjoyed the historical detail in this book. It is very focused on Richard's immediate concerns and his guilt and internal dilemmas over taking the crown and how best to hold it. Little is said of Elizabeth Woodville and her daughters in sanctuary, which was a nice change from other novels as I doubt Richard really did spend a lot of time worrying about them. There was just enough romance between him and Anne, just enough innocence and gullibility, just enough growth in his character as he came to the realization that others looked out for themselves far more than he did. The personifications of characters was well done from the sugar-tongued Buckingham to the manipulating Henry Tudor. (OK, maybe Tudor was a little over-the-top evil and dislikable, but does anyone really believe he was the savior of England?)
This book made me feel as though I was transported back to 1483-85. Despite the fact that I already knew everything that was going to happen, it made me picture Richard, not as a name from the past, but as a man that I could imagine standing in front of me right now, and I wanted to save him from his fate.
As other reviewers have pointed out, this Kindle novel does have more typos than I would normally find acceptable. Given that this is an independent author novel and the writing was superb besides these errors, I have been forgiving in my rating regarding this.
I have read many Richard III novels and biographies with personifications of him ranging from those that create modern day Brides of Gloucester to the hilariously evil Shakespearean Richard. Brondarbit's Richard is neither, but I believe he just may be the closest to who Richard really was.