Margaret of Anjou spiked the rebel heads of the Duke of York and the Earl of Salisbury on York’s city gate, but her husband, Henry VI, "who’d lost his wits" and turned more cloistered monk than king, remains rebel prisoner in the third volume of Iggulden’s (Margaret of Anjou, 2015, etc.) Wars of the Roses series.
Now the next generation seeks revenge and power: Edward, successor Duke of York, an 18-year-old goliath, and his tutor-turned-ally, Richard, Earl of Warwick, Salisbury's son. Margaret’s army marches from York to confront Warwick’s forces at St. Albans. Margaret prevails. Henry is freed. Then London bars entry to the loyalists. Returning north, Margaret’s army is pursued by Warwick and York. In the frozen winter of 1461, there’s a great bloodletting on Towton’s killing field, masterfully described by Iggulden. Margaret and Henry flee to France. Iggulden often shows his writerly chops, here describing the English Channel as a "sleeve of tears." There’s medieval blood and gore, yes, but also insights into food and drink, landscape and weather, plus a riveting portrayal of the singular London winter night, all torches, candles, and cheering nobles, as young Edward declares himself king. Warwick, Margaret, and the queen’s hard-bitten and deadly devious spymaster, Derry Brewer, arrive in nuanced depictions while boisterous young York evolves into a Machiavellian ruler, yet one enthralled by his wife, smoldering Elizabeth Gray.
In this craftily plotted novel, Iggulden turns legends into real people, all passion, intrigue, and duplicity, so palpably realistic the sound of sword against armor rings from the page.