Email this review


The latest in line to Plaldy's Plantagenet thrones is that regal, oddly attractive mayfly, Richard II--deposed predecessor of the guilt-ridden Tudors (cf. Shakespeare) and historical pivot-figure. Here, however, unlike most of the Plantagenet sagas, the main events are domestic (there's relative calm across the Channel), starting off with the first wedding of Richard's uncle John of Gaunt--who will simmer with greedy, futile ambition when ten-year-old Richard, after a string of royal demises, becomes a bright and beautiful young king. (Plaidy imagines highly unlikely, anti-Gaunt murmurs from a media-wise citizenry: ""'He seeks to rule us,' it was murmured, '. . . he will attempt to take the crown from little Richard and there will be war.'"") So, after a skirmish involving religious-reformer Wycliffe and the Bishop of London, Gaunt flees to the country--while Richard, at 14, handles the Wat Tyler peasant rebellion by dispersing a murdering mob, then betraying the trust they put in him. And, home at the palaces, Richard has a companionable child-marriage with young Anne of Bohemia and another with the French king's pretty daughter--but his more passionate love seems reserved for close friend Robert de Vere (though nothing resembling Edward II's excesses is suggested). Family feuds escalate; Richard is impulsive and inept at government; he deeply offends Gaunt's son Henry Bolingbroke, And finally, then, his short life will end in humiliation, abdication, imprisonment, and death. A misty king in the midst of shifty uncles and cousins by the dozens--as Plaidy again fits simple motivations to complex historical events, with stolidly readable results.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam