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Historical Novel Society

Review: Honour by Matthew Lewis

Honour - Matthew Lewis

The Tudor dynasty begins in this second novel by author Matthew Lewis. Beginning where Loyalty left off, the reader is immediately engaged in post Bosworth drama. Following Richard III's best friend, Francis Lovell, the author pieces together a unique and detailed account of the mysteries surrounding the sons of York.

This is one of the best novels that I have read covering the years following the tragic end of the Plantagenet dynasty at Bosworth Field in 1485. Viscount Lovell is plagued by guilt that he survived when so many of his friends fell, but Richard had other plans for him. Lovell dedicates the remainder of his life to Richard's cause and attempting to ensure that his friend and pious king does not become "consigned to history as the malevolent uncle who stole the crown from a boy, his own nephew."

Clearly, the Tudor propaganda machine was more successful in defining Richard's character than Francis was, but this novel proposes an interesting, if not completely plausible, explanation of events that clear Richard's name. Characterizations of the Stafford brothers, John de la Pole, and William Catesby are intriguing and believable, encouraging the reader to take up the York standard themselves.

The story of the aftermath of Bosworth is interspersed with a side plot taking place during the reign of Henry VIII, the usurper Henry Tudor's son. With Hans Holbein returning to the scene, he is once again asked to secretly protect the truth about the York remnant. But what is the truth?

This novel is an interesting historical what-if that leaves the reader wishing that things could have turned out differently. If only certain schemers had not been so successful, some been less trusting of others' honor, and key figures not driven by personal vainglory. Could things have turned out different for the boys of York?

Though Richard III lies dead at the beginning of this novel, his spirit lives on in this novel through the many who still love him and are loyal to his memory. For this author's excellent novelization of Richard's life, pick up his first book, Loyalty.