Book Reviews

About Our Rating System:

  • (5 stars)

    Well-written, thoroughly researched, you won’t want to put it down!

  • (4 stars)

    Well worth reading, but with a few difficulties in either style or substance

  • (3 stars)

    Interesting material but could have used more research (or a stronger editor!)

  • (2 stars)

    An older classic book that may be outdated in information or approach

  • (1 stars)

    Enjoyable, but approach with great caution, don’t believe everything you read!



1381: The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt, by Juliet Barker
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

In 1381: The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt, Juliet Barker has written a hybrid, a book that combines the readability and accessibility of a good popular history with the detailed thoroughness of a work of deep scholarship. The early chapters, which set …

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A Burnable Book: A Novel, by Bruce Holsinger
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

A Burnable Book opens with the murder “under a clouded moon” of an unknown girl by a man who repeatedly demands “Doovay leebro?” (”Where is the book?”) We are then immediately plunged into the first-person narrative of John Gower, a man with money and …

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Agincourt, by Bernard Cornwell
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Bernard Cornwell’s books have very little chivalry and a great deal of reality. I have become absolutely captivated by his recent series, featuring the warrior lord Uhtred of Bebbanburgh and set in the time of Alfred the Great and his immediate success …

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Bess-of-Hardwick1
e-Royalty Rating:
good

Property values must have tanked after Henry VIII’s iron fisted leadership style brought mayhem to the English countryside. He burned down the monasteries and brutally burned or dismembered those who tried to uphold their Catholic beliefs. Living in th …

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Daughter-of-Time
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Truth is the daughter of time! I vividly remember my introduction to Daughter of Time. I was about 14 and my father handed it to me. “Here”, he said, “read this. I think you’ll like it.” “What’s it about?” I asked. “Richard III” he answered. I exploded …

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Edward II Unconventional King
e-Royalty Rating:
ok

Nonfiction: Amberley, 336 pages I was so looking forward to this book! I have always found Edward II fascinating. Son of a great king, and father to another, Edward II himself was the “misfit” in the middle, the round peg in a square hole. He was indee …

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select1
e-Royalty Rating:
good

Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings is an old-fashioned plum pudding of a book – rich, dense, and stuffed with flavor and color. It is definitely not light reading, nor is it to everyone’s taste. This reader, however, found it absolutely enthrallin …

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Eleanor of Castile
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Eleanor of Castile is one of the many “hidden” women of the Middle Ages. Her personal childhood experiences, as one of many children of the King of Castile, are not recorded. As the 13-year-old wife of a young Prince Edward (later Edward I), she made n …

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Elizabeth I and her Circle
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Susan Doran’s research and writing have focused on Elizabeth I for many years. Each of her books has presented new insights on Elizabeth’s long and momentous reign. Elizabeth I and Her Circle, Doran’s most recent book, is no exception. In it, Doran tur …

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elizabeth-I
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Whether you are meeting Gloriana for the first time, or indulging a long-time love of all things Elizabeth and Elizabethan, you will find this book an absolute delight. Elizabeth I and Her World is notable for the number and quality of its color photog …

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herhighness
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Susan Higginbotham’s historical novels avoid the usual heroines. Instead, she focuses on the “outcasts,” the women ignored, neglected or mistreated by history. Her books, therefore, always present interesting new takes on perceived and accepted “truths …

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insidethetudor
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Lauren Mackay has written an absolutely riveting account of Henry VIII’s court from 1529, when Henry’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn had already started him down the road to divorce and an independent Church of England, to 1545, by which time Henry had …

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katherine
e-Royalty Rating:
good

If you are the kind of reader who likes being transported to a different world, you will thoroughly enjoy Katherine, the 1954 historical fiction classic by Anya Seton. So go ahead, jump down the proverbial rabbit hole and stave off reality for a few ho …

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katherinehoward
e-Royalty Rating:
good

The world of the Plantagenets and Tudors has been enriched by a new, young author, Conor Byrne. In this his first book, Katherine Howard: A New History, he looks at the life and short royal career of the fifth wife of Henry VIII. As a 16-year-old, Kath …

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King John: Treachery and Tyranny
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

I look forward to each of Marc Morris’ books. My expectations have always been high, and I have never been disappointed. King John is no exception. Morris’ prose is, as ever, clear. His analysis is original. His research is always thorough. Morris has, …

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lamentation
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

If you have never before encountered Matthew Shardlake, the unlikely protagonist of C.J. Sansom’s excellent mystery series set in the second half of the reign of Henry VIII, you are in for a treat. But, do NOT begin with Lamentation, the sixth book in …

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6wives
e-Royalty Rating:
good

I will admit to a bout of “Tudor fatigue.” A small sampling of recent delightful books includes Thomas Penn’s The Winter King, Philippa Gregory’s The King’s Curse, Leanda de Lisle’s Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder, Anna Whitelock’s The Queen’s Bed …

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The Creation of Anne Boleyn, by Susan Bordo
e-Royalty Rating:
good

Susan Bordo’s The Creation of Anne Boleyn, offers a focused roundup of Tudor history while presenting the author’s own conversational account of how the ill-fated Boleyn came to be portrayed as a conniving, self-serving commoner. Bordo admits that Anne …

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gothicking
e-Royalty Rating:
ok

Henry III has stood alone among English monarchs in having no contemporary biography. His reign (1216-1272) was long, probably overly long, and the times were exciting, even tumultuous. Biographies have been written about many of those who surrounded H …

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The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory Review
e-Royalty Rating:
good

Lady Margaret Pole, an elegant unknown, who lived carefully in every moment of her life, is the subject of Philippa Gregory’s latest historical fiction, Book 6 from the Cousins’ War Series. Margaret was a Plantagenet, the daughter of George, Duke of Cl …

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The Six Wives & Many Mistresses of Henry VIII
e-Royalty Rating:
good

I do enjoy Amy Licence. Her previous books, including biographies of Elizabeth of York, Anne Neville and Cecily Neville, have been models of detached, rigorous, and yet fascinating historical analysis. Licence does not hesitate to ask speculative quest …

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summerqueen
e-Royalty Rating:
verygood

Elizabeth Chadwick has finally written the book that we Eleanor of Aquitaine-enthusiasts have been waiting for! The Summer Queen is the first in an anticipated trilogy that will follow Eleanor through the span of her long and tumultuous life. In this o …

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The Sunne in Splendor
e-Royalty Rating:
good

Imagine three suns rising at dawn. Would you be terrified or would you see it as a sign of good luck? In 1460, Edward Earl of March, soon to be King Edward IV proclaimed the astronomical event to be a “vision” from God. He told his troops waiting for b …

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The Winter King
e-Royalty Rating:
ok

Thomas Penn’s biography of King Henry VII of England is both interesting and confusing. It’s also worth reading. Providing details of Tudor history that tend to stay in the background of popular history books, The Winter King sheds light on a ruler and …

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Watch the Lady
e-Royalty Rating:
ok

Richly imagined, well-researched Watch the Lady is an absorbing read. Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle is a little like Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Fraught with social and political conflict, yet softened by the ups and downs of romanc …

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With All for All Darren Baker
e-Royalty Rating:
good

Today, most people recognize Simon de Montfort only vaguely as the founding father of England’s House of Commons. That is, if they know him at all! And that “blind spot” in public perception is a terrible shame. Simon de Montfort is one of the most cha …

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wolf hall
e-Royalty Rating:
good

Wolf Hall (2009) by Hilary Mantel is a tour de force. After re-reading it, I am still marveling at the rich prose and psychological depth of Mantel’s characters—particularly Thomas Cromwell, the novel’s focus. As Cromwell rises from blacksmith’s son to …

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