(Review) A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII: The Aragon Years, Book One of The Henrician Chronicle by Judith Arnopp

Publisher and Publication Date: Feed a Read-independent published. February 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 335.
Format: e-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book copy from the Coffee Pot Book Club. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Tudor history readers.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

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Author Bio:

Judith Arnopp is a lifelong history enthusiast and avid reader, Judith holds a BA in English/Creative writing and an MA in Medieval Studies. She lives on the coast of West Wales where she writes both fiction and non-fiction based in the Medieval and Tudor period. Her main focus is on the perspective of historical women but more recently is writing from the perspective of Henry VIII himself.

Her novels include:
A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, the Aragon Years
The Heretic Wind: the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of England
Sisters of Arden: on the Pilgrimage of Grace
The Beaufort Bride: Book one of The Beaufort Chronicle
The Beaufort Woman: Book two of The Beaufort Chronicle
The King’s Mother: Book three of The Beaufort Chronicle
The Winchester Goose: at the Court of Henry VIII
A Song of Sixpence: the story of Elizabeth of York
Intractable Heart: the story of Katheryn Parr
The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn
The Song of Heledd
The Forest Dwellers
Peaceweaver


Judith is also a founder member of a re-enactment group called The Fyne Companye of Cambria and makes historical garments both for the group and others. She is not professionally trained but through trial, error and determination has learned how to make authentic looking, if not strictly HA, clothing. You can find her group Tudor Handmaid on Facebook.

Social Media Links:
Amazon author page
Website: www.judithmarnopp.com
Blog: http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudithArnopp
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tudor_juditharnopp/?hl=en

Summary:

‘A king must have sons: strong, healthy sons to rule after him.’
On the unexpected death of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, his brother, Henry, becomes heir to the throne of England. The intensive education that follows offers Henry a model for future excellence; a model that he is doomed to fail.
On his accession, he chooses his brother’s widow, Catalina of Aragon, to be his queen. Together they plan to reinstate the glory of days of old and fill the royal nursery with boys. But when their first-born son dies at just a few months old, and subsequent babies are born dead or perish in the womb, the king’s golden dreams are tarnished. Christendom mocks the virile prince. Catalina’s fertile years are ending yet all he has is one useless living daughter, and a baseborn son. He needs a solution but stubborn to the end, Catalina refuses to step aside. As their relationship founders, his eye is caught by a woman newly arrived from the French court. Her name is Anne Boleyn.

Excerpt:

1505 – Henry is informed by his father that he must withdraw from his betrothal to Catherine
of Aragon.
Most of my companions, the older ones at least, have tasted the pleasures of women but I have no desire to dally with whores. Instead, when the curtains are drawn about my bed at night, I think of Catalina and the delights we will one day enjoy. Since there are no tutors to instruct me on such matters, I listen to the tales my friends tell of their conquests. The prospect of bedding my future wife fills me with a mix of excitement and terror. And then, on the eve of my fourteenth birthday, the king informs me that I must make a formal protest against the union with Spain. “Why?” I exclaim. “I have no wish to protest against it!” Father rubs his nose, dabs it with his kerchief, rolls it into a ball, and glares at me. “Your wishes are of no moment. This is politics. You will do as you are told.” I am furious but I know better than to argue. It would do me no good. I can feel my ears growing red with resentment. I clench my teeth until I hear my jaw crack. Oblivious to my feelings, Father shuffles through the papers on his desk, picks one up and reads aloud the instruction he has written there. “You must declare, before witnesses, that the agreement was made when you were a minor and now you reach puberty you will not ratify the contract but denounce it as null and void. Your words will be set in writing and then signed and witnessed by six men. Protestations tumble in my mind but I cannot voice them. When he dismisses me with a flick of his fingers, I bow perfunctorily, turn on my heel, and quit the room. I find Brandon in the tennis court, loudly protesting the score while his opponent, Guildford, stands with his hands
on his hips. “You are wrong, Brandon, the point is mine. Isn’t that so?” He turns to the others, who are lounging nearby. Having only been half attending, they shrug and shake their heads noncommittally. “My Lord Prince,” Brandon, noticing my arrival, turns for my support. “You witnessed it, did you not? The point was mine. Back me up, Sir.” I pick up a racket, idly test it in my hand and emitting a string of curses, hurl it across the court. Silence falls upon the company. “What ails you, Sir?” Brandon is the only one brave enough to come forward. He reaches out, his hand heavy on my shoulder. There are few men I allow to touch me. At the back of my mind I am aware that Brandon is merely proving to the others how high he stands in my regard. I should shrug him off, but I don’t. “Walk with me,” I mutter between my teeth and then turn away, almost falling over Beau who dogs my every footstep. “Out of my way!” I scream and he cowers from me, tail between his legs. Tossing his racket to Thomas Kyvet, Brandon follows me. “Henry, wait,” he calls, and I slow my step, until he has caught up. “What has happened?” “My accursed father.” I am so angry, I can hardly speak; my lips feel tight against my teeth, my head pounds with repressed fury. “He demands that I denounce my union with Catalina.” I stop, rub my hands across my face, the blood thundering in my ears. “I don’t know if I am angry because I have lost her, or because I am so sick of being told what I must do. What will Catalina think? What will happen to her?” He shrugs. “In all probability she will be sent home to Spain.” I think of her leaving, imagine her sad little figure boarding ship for the perilous journey to her homeland. For four years she has lived at the mercy of my father’s generosity which, as we all know, is greatly lacking, and now is to be sent home like a misdirected package. “Sometimes I feel this … this limbo will never end, and I will spend my whole life under my father’s jurisdiction.” He flings a brotherly arm about me and I am suddenly grateful to have a friend. He speaks quietly, with feeling and I struggle not to weep like a woman. “We are all told what to do by our fathers, Henry, and we are much alike, you and me. I am also the second son. Had my brother not died, I’d like as not be languishing in the country, wed too young to some red-cheeked matron yet here I am, your honoured servant. One day, you will be king, and I will still be at your side. The future will soon be ours, and the time for following orders will be done with.”

My Thoughts:

A Matter of Conscience is told in the 1st person narrating voice. In other words, Henry is the narrator. I wasn’t sure that I’d enjoy this book once I realized this. However, I stayed with the story and realized this is a perfect form of writing to let me in on Henry’s thoughts, feelings, reasonings, desires, justifications, arrogance, pride, deception, obsessions, dogmatic, and prideful character. Through Henry’s voice I see a solid transition of maturity from a boy to a man. The transition of his growth is easy to envision. It is palpable. This is one example of why A Matter of Conscience is a story to become apart of-to fall into-to become invested and swept up in the story. Henry is king in the story and he is larger than life.

An interesting point is I do not consider myself a fan of Henry VIII. So, to read about Henry as if he is a swoon-worthy hero is not my response. I don’t have to love a character I am reading about. It is nice to like or love them but not necessary. I do like to see a transformation in the character-Henry has a strong transformation in his character and it is not positive. Readers of Tudor history know Henry VIII through his actions in history. But to get inside his head is surreal. Judith Arnopp has done a brilliant job of recreating Henry.

The spotlight is always on Henry. I am reminded of a line in one of Shakespeare’s plays-Macbeth:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.”

Henry is the one who “struts and frets” on the stage of his royal life. He is puffed up with pride and this increases with age.

The story is told linear or chronological.

I love the characterizations of Margaret and Mary the sisters of Henry. I love the characterizations of Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn. I love the characterization of Thomas Wolsey, the archbishop and cardinal.

Catherine of Aragon is one of my favorite historical figures of this time period. Her plight is sad. It is up to her to deliver a healthy son. History has revealed the outcome. She is pious. She prays often. I wondered exactly how often she might have prayed? The schedule followed by monks and nuns of this time period was eight times a day. The times were: Matins or Nocturns-at midnight. Lauds-Morning Prayer at 0300. Prime-the first hour at 0600. Tierce-Midmorning Prayer at 0900. Sext-Midday Prayer at noon. None-Midafternoon Prayer at 1500. Vespers-Evening Prayer at 1800. Compline-Night Prayer at 2100.

One of my favorite scenes is Princess Mary is throwing a tantrum because she doesn’t want to marry the old French king. Henry watches her. He has seen this behavior of hers since she was a child. She rages and he simply watches.

Themes in the story: loyalty, jealousy, obsession, deception, conformity, justice, greed, power, temptation, and pride.




Book Spotlight for The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien

Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins. April 15, 2021 (paperback). September 2020 (Hardback and e-book).
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 531.
Format: NetGalley e-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book copy from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction who enjoy reading British history.
Rating: This blog post is for a spotlight on the book.

For more information about the book: HarperCollins.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Waterstones

Kobo

Author Bio:

Sunday Times Bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history. Today she has sold over 700,000 copies of her books medieval history novels in the UK and internationally. She lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels which breathe life into the forgotten women of medieval history.

Social Media Links:

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Summary:

England, 1459.
One family united by blood. Torn apart by war… The Wars of the Roses storm through the country, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, plots to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne. But when the Yorkists are defeated at the battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own. Stripped of her lands and imprisoned in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit. One that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.

(Review) Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things Book 2 by Wendy J. Dunn

Publisher and Publication Date: Poesy Quill Publishing. January 15, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 449.
Format: pdf copy/Kindle e-book copy.
Source: I received a complimentary pdf copy from Poesy Quill Publishing. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers of Tudor history.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon
Link @ Barnes and Noble


About the Author:
Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian author, playwright and poet who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of three Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel, and Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Connect with Wendy:
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Summary:

Winter, 1539

María de Salinas is dying.

Too ill to travel, she writes a letter to her daughter Katherine, the young duchess of Suffolk. A letter telling of her life: a life intertwined with her friend and cousin Catalina of Aragon, the youngest child of Isabel of Castile. It is a letter to help her daughter understand the choices she has made in her life, beginning from the time she keeps her vow to Catalina to share her life of exile in England.

Friendship, betrayal, hatred, forgiveness – All Manner of Things tells a story of how love wins out in the end. 

My Thoughts:
Several reasons I love this story.
1. It is a continuation of the close bond and friendship between Catalina and María from the first book, The Duty of Daughters.
2. I love the opening paragraph. It is rich in descriptive detail that sets the tone for the story.
3. All Manner of Things shows that during this era women had little control of their lives. Their marriages were often arranged. Rare did a couple marry for love.
4. All Manner of Things is a woman’s story. I am deeply effected by their suffering during pregnancies and labor without modern knowledge and medicine. Their plight during labor may lead to death. Yet, they speak as if that is always a chance, always in their minds that this might happen. The women love men who do not honor or respect them. Yet, the women have no choice but to stay married and accept the hurtful arrangements. In this story, I saw more situations where women helped other women. Whether it was advice in love, marriage, or chastity. The women depended on other women. The men seem to be secondary characters.
5. María de Salinas is the narrator of All Manner of Things. In the first book, Beatriz the Latin teacher is the narrator. Both of these women are intelligent, wise, educated, and savvy. They are passionate but they both hold two key character traits. They are committed to their duty. They have strong restraint.
6. I love the perspective María has of Henry as a boy, youth, man, and king. She is a sharp observer.

Final Thought:
While reading this story I wondered how much of Catalina’s experiences with men shaped her and her role to be Henry VIII’s wife?

Favorite Quote:
“Love makes fools of us all.”

Excerpt:

“In May day, when the lark began to rise…” the king sang.

The king is good at play-acting. A stone throw from the king but hidden from view, María lounged on her mantle, in a secluded bower in the parkland near Greenwich palace. He play-acts the good husband. Surely that means he cares about Catalina? In her self-imposed solitude, she sipped her wine and chewed at her chicken leg.

“Trolly lolly lolly lo, Sing trolly lolly lo! My love is to the greenwood gone,” the king sang now.

Catalina had sorrowed over the loss of her confessor and his return to Castile for weeks. Is it any wonder the king organises a day of merriment for his wife and court? Catalina had no notion that their departure from Greenwich palace would be interrupted by the arrival of Robin Hood, Maid Marian and Friar Tuck – or that a banquet would be prepared for their pleasure in this parkland – in a huge bower laid down with carpets and scattered cushions to sit upon. She had no choice but to put on a happy face for her husband – especially when the day was witnessed by foreign ambassadors. Si – the king is good at play-acting, but so is Catalina.

After the banquet when her head started to pound, María had taken possession of one of the smaller bowers, provided for those who wished privacy. After a little while by herself, María was not surprised to see Catalina approaching. She rose and curtseyed. Catalina gestured to her. “Pray sit down. I’ve told the others I am joining you for a time.”

María sat again, wondering what caused Catalina to speak to her in their shared tongue.

“A pleasant outing, don’t you think?” Catalina asked, sitting beside her.

“Si, very pleasant.” Hearing the king’s voice, María drew apart some of the bushes to peer out. His back towards them, the king stood with the Venetian ambassador, both them apparently admiring one of the bowers filled with singing birds of all descriptions. The organisation of this event must have taken days to prepare. Even the trees had been made more beautiful by the hanging of innumerable embroidered hawthorn leaves.

Thomas More broke away from the other courtiers, and began walking in their direction. María pulled back and released the bush. But he still noticed them. He ambled over and bowed to the queen.

Catalina laughed. “You have hunted out my hiding place, Tom.” She glanced at María. “I should say ‘our’. My good friend found it first. Would you like to join us?”

More bowed again. “I could not think of a greater pleasure.”

Watching him throw down his cloak and sit, María hoped no one else would seek them out. She sighed. Catalina’s time with me will likely be cut short as soon as the king realises her absence.
“Are you writing anything new, Tom?” Catalina asked More.

He laughed. “I am always scribbling something new.”

“You do not want to speak of it?”

“I refuse to weary my queen on a day as agreeable as today with talk of my unfinished works. If I did, I would risk my wife’s scolding.”

Catalina grinned. “Your wife scolds you?”

“Aye – she thinks I am but a foolish man at times.” He laughed again. “If she thinks it, she speaks it. But she also ensures a good, and peaceful home too – and I thank her for that. It is what I most need for the health of my soul.”

“I have spoken to Dame Alice over the years since your marriage. I delight in how she speaks her mind, and how much but she loves you, Tom.”

Catalina turned to draw aside some of the bush. She sighed. “I wish I could stay longer, but I too love my husband. It is time to make my return to him. I bid you good day, Thomas – please send my greeting to Dame Alice, and tell her I hope to see her soon. María, if you have enough of seclusion for the day, perchance you could come back soon? I am lonely for you.”

“I will return anon, my queen.”

María watched Catalina go, aware of More’s silence. At last, he spoke, “You do not wish to return?”

María met his curious eyes. “I will always wish to return to my queen. She knows me well – and understands my need to be away from people at times. Today was one such time. All the chatter hurt my head.”

More nodded. He looked out towards the milling courtiers. Music, laughter, talking men and women strangled any chance for a moment of silence. “Yes – the court is not a place for peace, or for the health of one’s soul.”

An accented voice called out her name and that of Thomas More. Master Erasmus shambled over to them. More helped María up from the ground and they greeted the old man outside of the bower. Leaning on his walking stick, Erasmus bowed over her hand before kissing her with relish. María had to restrain herself from wiping her mouth of his taste of mint leaves and garlic. But she liked Erasmus, and was always happy to speak to him.

“Such a delightful habit of the English! I never tire of it!” The elderly man spoke fast in French, his eyes creased up in laughter-lines.

She laughed, replying in the same tongue. “I remember you in the first year of the king’s reign. You sought out all the unwed girls.”

“The kiss of greeting is a good custom of England. But then the English have a lot to make up to us for their weather – and other bad habits.”
“Do we, my old friend?” More said with a laugh.

María glanced at More and back at Erasmus. “What do you speak of, Master?”

“Surely you know?” Erasmus shifted as if in pain. “I speak not of the home of our friend here. The home of Thomas More is a delight to visit. But there are English who dump upon their clay floors foul things. Their rushes conceal old bones, spittle, shit of dogs and cats, and everything under God’s good Heaven to make a stomach turn.” His face screwed up in disgust.

María smiled and gave a short laugh. “Once, those habits were shared by others. I remember my first days at the court of the king’s father. I was shocked time after time by the behaviour of the English nobility. But the queen has long stopped that kind of conduct at court.”

“Aye – conditions at court are greatly improved from the time of the old king. But, to my dismay, I find many other places are exactly the same as when I first came to England, when this King Henry was but a boy and still a prince at Eltham Palace.”

“You met him then?”

“I hoped to gain patronage of the old king, as is still a common pattern to my life. I wished to make myself known to Queen Elizabeth. Thomas, you must remember the day?”

“Aye – we walked together from my home to Eltham. Prince Henry, as he was then, was with his mother. What a beautiful woman she was.”

“Very beautiful – and a good woman too.” Maria sighed. “Our lives changed for the worse after her death.”

“Do you recall how she towered over most men – and stood eye to eye with her own husband?” asked Erasmus.

“Yes, she was tall, but it suited her,” said María. “Tell me, what of the king as a boy? I met him a few times when he was boy, but I am curious to hear what you thought of him, Master Erasmus?”

“From the outside, all his mother’s son. I remember he sailed his toy boat in the pond near the palace. In my mind’s eye, I can see the day still. The water shimmered like a bright mirror in the sun. A touch of breeze swelled its surface and ruffled the feathers of the swans.” He laughed. “Strange, is it not, the older you become, how rain spoils so few of our memories.”

María looked all around. The parkland seemed washed with gold by the lowering sun. Sunshine or rain, an increasing shroud of sorrow wound tighter around each new day. For years, she had no longer wished to look forward. She turned back to the comfort of Erasmus’ voice; it kept her safe in a past not her own.

“I did not know the boy crouching at the pond’s edge was a prince. Although, thinking back, there was a guard close to him. I thought him then a goodly made young lad.”

“Yes – I thought that too when I met him for the first time not long afterwards. He escorted the queen to her marriage with his brother.”

“The queen has been a good patron to me. She is a worthy daughter of the great Isabel of Castile.” Erasmus seemed to no longer want to speak of the past, but the present. María repressed a laugh. If I stay here for much longer, Erasmus will likely begin talking of a new book he wishes more coin from the queen to write.

“The queen is indeed her mother’s daughter.”

Daylight beginning to ebb, the wind turned even colder. María curtseyed to Erasmus and More with great respect. “I must be away and return to the queen. I bid you both good day – and hope to speak to you more very soon.”

She walked away, but cast a glance over her shoulder at the two men. Both of them were talking, and did not seem to care about the lengthening shadows – or that everyone around them began to ready to continue their interrupted journey. They were happy in their own world.

(Review) King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: The Road to Magna Carta by Marc Morris

Publisher and Publication Date: Pegasus Books. 2015.
Genre: Nonfiction. British history.
Pages: 400.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of British history and the British monarchy.
Rating: Very good.

Goodreads page for Marc Morris.

Marc Morris’ webpage. Has not been updated since 2016.

Sixteen illustrations in color.

Included is a translation of the Magna Carta.

Amazon link

I had this book in a TBR stack since 2015.

Summary:
Royal house of Plantagenet in England. This house ruled 1154 to 1485.
John was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. John had four older brothers and was not expected to become a king.
Henry II ruled 1154-1189.
Richard I Lionheart ruled 1189-1199. Richard did not have legitimate heirs.
John ruled 1199-1216.
John’s older brothers: William, Henry, Richard I, and Geoffrey all died leaving John as the heir to the throne.

Chapter one begins by explaining John is the ruler of a large domain. He is king of England and most of south Wales. He is lord of Ireland. Duke of Normandy. Count of Anjou. Duke of Aquitaine. He had only been king for a couple of years, but his foe is King Philip II of France. Philip had been king 23 years. In 1203, John’s large domain is threatened by Philip.
Chapter two backs up to the lineage of his family, childhood, parents marriage crisis, and John’s older brothers and their struggles with Henry II.
Chapter three is “the siege of Chateau Gaillard” in 1203-04.
Chapter four goes back to 1189 when Henry II died. Richard’s reign, his activity during the crusade, Geoffrey’s death, and John became Richard’s successor. While Richard is away John made his move to be in charge.
The rest of the book is in chronological order of the events in John’s reign.

My Thoughts:
John has a bad reputation. I must admit I’m not fond of him. However, my interest has been peaked from previous books I’ve read about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and British royal history.

A few things I learned:
1. During King John‘s reign, records or documents were kept unlike previous royals before him.
2. A book written about William Marshall tells about John’s reign. Marc Morris points out it was Marshall’s family who produced the book. The book is favorably slanted to Marshall and not John.
3. John’s buried body was found in the 18th century.

What I dislike about the book is jumping in time during the first part of the book. I prefer a nonfiction book be chronological in events.

King John is not dry. It is an entertaining read.

The story of King John is told in about 300 pages. This is an easy to digest biography.

There are 45 pages with lists of the notes and sources for the study of King John.

I feel this is a thorough examination of King John. Morris illustrates John’s life and show him to be a man who was harsh, vindictive, a liar, oppressive, and a sexual predator. However, John is known in at least one positive light because of the Magna Carta.

King John on a stag hunt.

(Review) Drake: Tudor Corsair, The Elizabethan Series Book 1 by Tony Riches

Publisher and Publication Date: Preseli Press Ltd. August 5, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. British history. Elizabethan era. Sea adventure.
Pages: 344.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from Tony Riches, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction who love sea adventure.
Rating: Very good.

To read other reviews:
The Coffee Pot Book Club
Candlelight Reading
Historical Fiction Blog
Zoe’s Art, Craft, and Life
A Darn Good Read
Gwendalyn Books

Links to purchase the book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Goodreads link

Further links of interest:
Elizabethan Era
Elizabeth an England Life
Britannica-Francis Drake
Historic-uk.com-Francis Drake

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on  Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

Sir Francis Drake (1540-43 to 1596)

Summary:
1564 
Devon sailor Francis Drake sets out on a journey of adventure. Drake learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life in an audacious plan to steal a fortune.
Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy. Her unlikely champion becomes a national hero, sailing around the world in the Golden Hind and attacking the Spanish fleet.
King Philip of Spain has enough of Drake’s plunder and orders an armada to threaten the future of England.

My Thoughts:
I love sea adventure stories and this is my favorite aspect of Drake: Tudor Corsair. As a young man, Francis Drake had piloted ships to safe harbor, but he had the ambition to sail the ocean. He began working for the privateer, seaman, and slave trader John Hawkins. Most of the story is in preparing the ship for a journey, sailing the ocean, and skirmishes with the Spanish and Portuguese. The actual day to day duties on a ship is not described in-depth as I’d liked. However, I understand better the English ambition for gold and silver made in the slave trade. I understand better the terrible conditions for the African people who were caught, transported to another land, and sold. The story shows a glimpse of uncomfortableness Drake felt about the slave trade, but it did not stop his activities.
I’ve read a little about Sir Francis Drake. I feel Drake: Tudor Corsair has characterized Drake as a likable person. A person who is heroic. He did have strong accomplishments. For example, he was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the earth. I have to remember, and other readers must remember, this is a historical period where many saw wealth as more important than human life. The African’s lives were expendable. It is difficult for me to wrap-my-mind around “that” type of thinking, but this is history, they lived differently than we do.
The personal life of Drake is shared in the story. I wonder if a fictional account of Drake’s first wife is possible? Her story is enticing and I wonder how she felt about his long absences? What did she know about his travels? How did she feel about how he made his wealth?
One of my favorite scenes in the story is when Drake met Queen Elizabeth. His description and impression of her is priceless.
Over-all this is a splendid story. I feel it gave me a solid education of what life at sea was like in the mid to late 1500s.