Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons/A Penguin Random House Company July 8, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction, The Wars of the Roses, England, House of Lancaster, House of Neville, House of York, House of Beaufort
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 496
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Putnam/Penguin in exchange for a review. All reviews are expressed from my own opinions and feelings.

Another review from Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers. 

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Summary:
Stormbird, follows the period of time from the betrothal of Henry VI (1443) to Margaret of Anjou, through to Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, becoming Protector and Defender of the Realm (1453).
Conn Iggulden backed up in the prologue to the death of Edward III (1377). His sons and their heirs, were the beginning point for the Wars of the Roses.
Stormbird, portrays the weak, lamb-like Henry VI, and his French bride Margaret of Anjou, who at first is naive and passive, but later became her husbands greatest ally.
William de la Pole, the Duke of Suffolk, and a fictional character named Derry Brewer, are the strong arm of Henry's throne. Their duty is to protect the king and secure the throne. Margaret depends on them, especially on the Duke of Suffolk. Yet, as she matures she finds her voice and will.
The York family through Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, have their own ambitions. Fate will bring him closer to the throne.
A war in France, and the loss of English land, brought rebellion and revenge to London, England.
Stormbird, is historical fiction at its finest, with courageous men, medieval warfare, medical practices, political power struggles, alliances, betrayals, and sacrifice.

My Thoughts on historical fiction:
I first want to express my feelings on historical fiction. I've read many comments from historical fiction readers who are upset and downright volatile, when it comes to fiction in history. Fiction is a made up story for entertainment. Non-fiction is fact, or is expected to be truth in a book. Historical fiction is a real historical event which has fictional parts. Now, the problem seems to be in how much fiction should be allowed in historical fiction. This is decided by the individual author. When I read historical fiction, I'm not looking for the book to be factual, but entertaining and well-written. It is a book, a fiction book. I do read more non-fiction history books than historical fiction. I am beginning to notice the fictional parts in historical fiction, because I read more non-fiction. I read Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and Encyclopedia Brittanica; also reading several websites and Facebook groups which specialize in British history.
Conn Iggulden, was gracious in adding a chapter at the end of his book, which tells us what changes he made and how he felt about it. I appreciate him and all historical fiction authors who communicate their purpose and mission.

My Thoughts of Stormbird:
A top priority for me when reading a work of fiction is its characters. The characters in Stormbird, are dimensional, evolving, and vivid. The characters have life, they breathe and die in the pages of Stormbird, and I as a voyeur, even felt empathy towards the reprobate.
Conn Iggulden, shows me the London of 1400s, by painting a grim picture which are stories of their own, for example: those people who committed suicide by drowning in the Thames river. The Guild of Surgeons bought these cadavers for their study.
I saw Margaret of Anjou's perspective in the story. Most of the books I'd read of her was in her later years. Stormbird, begins with her as a young teenage girl living in France. She is petite, innocent, and naive to the life before her in England. It is an interesting shift in the story when she "takes" matters in to her own hands.
William de la Pole is a person I have not read about before, a strong interest has developed in wanting to read more about him.
Henry VI, he is so pitiful, he needs to be swaddled in a blanket. His passive weak nature is made more so, by the strong men (many men) in the story. It is an unbalanced view of a weak ruler, against potent men.
The atmosphere of the story is tense, we know the ending, but to watch it unfold is stressful.
While reading Stormbird, I was concurrently reading Cecily Neville (non-fiction) by Amy Licence. Similar characters in both books. The books complemented each other.
Stormbird, begins and ends with blood. I believe there is symbolism in this illustration. Life is in the blood. The lives of the rival families each compete for power and control of England, they give birth and die for their cause.

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