Somewhere beyond the shores of England, a Pretender is mustering an army. He claims to be brother to the queen, and the true heir to the throne. But is he the lost boy sent into the unknown by his mother, the White Queen? Or a counterfeit prince – a low-born enemy to Henry Tudor and his York princess wife? When Henry Tudor picked up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth Field he knew he would have to marry the princess of the rival house – Elizabeth of York – in an effort to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades. But his bride was still in love with his enemy – and her mother and half of England still dreamed of a missing heir and a triumphant return for the House of York.
Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. Breaking his journey in Piccolo, he finds a place filled with superstitious fears: of the unknown, of the forces of the sea and sky, of strangers. With him are his loyal friend and servant, Frieze, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Isolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. The five of them are followed into the town by a huge children’s crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint. Its young leader promises that the sea will part before them, and allow them to walk dry-shod all the way to Jerusalem. Luca and Lady Isolde are swept up in the growing excitement; but something dangerous is brewing far out to sea…
“I am in fact, a hobbit in all but size” J.R.R Tolkien
I have been enjoying a rather Hobbity holiday. This is usually the time of the year I start reading Lord of the Rings, and watching the movies (my new Blu Ray boxed set this year) but I don’t always read The Hobbit before I start LOTR, in fact I will usually read it later. Having read it directly before I started Fellowship of the Ring I was able to enjoy it more as a prequel, more than usual in any case. I sometimes forget the references to Dale and the Mountain during Bilbo’s birthday party, the last chapter in The Lord of the Rings in which we are still allowed to be children.
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
I went to the library intending to get a copy of the Mary Boleyn biography by Alison Weir. After enduring a long wait and an irritating conversation with the librarian who kept telling me that I should read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl as was completely historically accurate, I left the library completely exasperated and with a copy of Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, as they had lost the Mary Boleyn book. With about six of her non-fiction books at home I wasn’t sure why I decided to pick up one of her historical fiction titles to start off with, but little Lady Jane Grey has always fascinated me.
Year of the Dragon indeed. City of Dragons the latest instalment in the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb, is the book I am most looking forward to in 2012. I think all of her fans were longing for a return to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds (well actually we’re also all longing for a return to the Six Duchies but I’m sure it’s not going to happen) and what a return it was. They were nothing short of brilliant. Something akin to when you get to the end of an epic fantasy series and everything happens exactly as you want it to happen and fills you with all sorts of rampant glee. Only these were just the first two. It could be because they were originally intended to be just a two volume series (the thought fills me with horror) and the pace is a lot faster than her usual sort. With the world building long established the books plunge straight in, with a disparate host of new characters and a group of Dragons who you fall desperately in love with and almost forget about the humans.
Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she meets his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and sees her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft, before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France.
I am thoroughly ashamed of my reading efforts in 2010, I barely managed a book a month. Another year went by where I missed my annual re-reads (although I did squeeze in a Farseer Trilogy re-read after I read the new latest Robin Hobbs) So I will make a futile attempt at having a plan.
What I would like to try and get through this year
The second book in Philippa’s stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses.
The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.