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Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

Historical Novel Society

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Review: The White Hawk (IV) Redemption by David Pilling

The White Hawk (IV): Redemption - David Pilling



*** If you have not read the first three White Hawk series books, this review will contain spoilers. ***


I believe this installment to the White Hawk series is now my favorite, though it was the first, The White Hawk: Revenge, that initially drew me into David Pilling's writing. It is difficult not to love the climax of the story when the Bolton family and the Lancastrian cause finds their redemption.


This series covers one of my favorite eras of history to read about from the unique view of a family of staunch Lancastrians who are displaced and practically distinguished by the Yorkist armies. I actually thought that the third book, The White Hawk: Restoration, was the end due to the death of a certain major character. Imagine my joy when I realized that there was more to the story!


Pilling leads the reader to the end of the York dynasty by following the characters Martin and Elizabeth Bolton, Richard Plantagenet (don't call him King Richard), and Henry Tudor. Through these varied points of view, the reader sees that none of them are a true hero or the salvation of England, but each has a strong devotion to the cause that they feel best serves their homeland.


The author's Richard is slightly Shakespearean, but also completely believable. While I enjoy reading all characterizations of Richard from maligned king to evil villain, my one standard is that he be written in a way that I can be convinced might be true. Pilling has done that with his version of Richard that is clever, devout, and courageous, but lets his rage and ambition justify actions that alienate him from those he hopes to rule. Sometimes, he seemed even to hate himself as he pushed aside his morality to commit acts "in the interest of the realm".


Thankfully, Henry Tudor is also not written as the golden son of prophesy who saves England from the tyrannous usurper. He is a somewhat sneaky schemer who becomes a rallying point for disinherited and disillusioned Englishmen for lack of anyone better qualified.


I appreciate the author's efforts to create characters who are realistic and scenes that paint events as they truly could have occurred. War is a nasty business that the idea of chivalry and passing of time has attempted to paint in a glorious light. The White Hawk series reminds the reader of the gory truths and consequences when men take up arms.