- Title: Stormbird.
- Author: Conn Iggulden.
- Pages: 510.
- Genres: Historical, fiction.
- Saga/series: Yes, this is the first book of the Wars of the Roses series. There are four books in this series.
King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead.
In 1437 his gentle son comes of age and takes the throne. Frail in body and mind, King Henry VI is dependent on his supporters to run his kingdom.
Richard, Duke of York, however, believes that without a strong king England will fall. His fears seem justified as English power comes under threat from France, and discontent and rebellion spread at home.
On the counsel of his advisers, Henry marries the young princess Margaret of Anjou in order to forge an alliance with France - but is it too late?
As the storm clouds gather, King Henry and his queen are besieged abroad and at home. Who can save the throne? Who will save the kingdom?
"Derry was both charming and polite and he'd slipped her a bag of tiny sweets when William wasn't looking. She'd been caught halfway between outrage at being treated as a child and delight at bitter lemon drops that made her mouth pucker as she sucked them."
To be completely honest I read this as a bit of an experiment. I know that I normally don't love history, don't get me wrong it's interesting, but I normally wouldn't willingly read books about it. But when I saw the last book of this series (it has a dragon on the cover and I love dragons) it intrigued me so I decided to give it a shot.
At the beginning of the book there are maps, family trees and a list of the characters. At the end of the book the author mentions what changes he made to the real life events.
The book switches point of view a lot which I found quite interesting because then you are sort of getting into multiple people's heads, you are getting a sense of what they are all thinking. I mean just because one person thinks that they are doing the right thing, that doesn't mean that everyone else agrees.
The book is quite crude in some parts but it makes sense as things were done very differently in those times.
I have to be honest here and say that I completely fell into how the author portrays the characters. The malevolent characters are the ones going against the king and the good characters are the ones who are on the king's side. But really, now that I've thought about it, that's just wrong, so as I'm continuing with the series I'm trying to be more open minded about the reasons behind the "bad" characters actions.
"As they rounded the great bend in the river and sighted the Palace of Westminster and the docks there, Margaret felt Henry's grip tighten on her small hand. He turned to her, wrapped in the layers of wool.
"I am sorry I have been... unwell, Margaret. There are times when I feel as if I have fallen, am still falling. I cannot describe it. I wish I could. I will try to be strong for you, but if it comes again... I cannot hold it back."
Margaret found herself weeping once more and rubbed her eyes , angry at herself. Her husband was a good man, she knew. She raised the bandaged hand and kissed it gently, weaving the fingers into hers. It seemed to comfort him."
King Henry VI
The first thing that intrigued me about this character is his illness because in the years that have past since the events that took place, medicine has vastly improved so it's a mystery as to what his illness was. I felt sorry for him because he had a huge responsibility (being king can't be easy) and he couldn't keep up with it because he was mostly bedridden or awake but not even aware of his surroundings.
Margaret of Anjou
I like Margaret and I feel like she is one of the most developed characters in this book. I like her because she is strong, she was just a young girl who had to marry a king, and then she found herself filling his role as he couldn't and I was quite amazed at how well she managed. And I really like the fact that she is fiercely loyal to her husband (King Henry VI).
He is the king's spymaster, therefore he is very important. The King and Queen (eventually) value his opinion greatly. I like his sense of humour.
William de la Pole
I quite liked him because he seems like a nice person. I felt bad for him when he had to take King Henry's place and marry Margaret of Anjou in France so that King Henry could remain in England, where he would be well and safe.
Richard of York
I really disliked him, as I said before I let myself be led by how the author depicted him and whoever was on his side. But now that I've looked back on it, his actions can be understood.
I felt sorry for the tragedy that befell him and can understand why he would want revenge. I just couldn't believe how it panned out.
"It was a blessing that the Irishman was a reasonable drunk, given to singing and sometimes weeping, rather than breaking the tables. Jack knew his old friend was uncomfortable with having wealth of any kind. For reasons he could not completely explain, Paddy seemed determined to burn through his fortune and be penniless once again."
Ultimately, I have to admit that I surprised myself when I actually enjoyed reading this book, I was expecting myself to be very bored because History isn't the topic for me. But I found it interesting and can't wait to finish the series.
I give this book a 3 out of 5. Even though I believe it was well written, and I did find it interesting but the genre just isn't one of my favourites so that's why I'm giving it a 3 and not a higher mark.