A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury: A King, a Prince and the Knight Who Betrayed Their Dynasty by Edith Pargeter
Publication Date: November 2010
Format: Paperback, 384 pp
Genre: Historical Fiction
(Received for review from Sourcebooks)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
A masterful tale of 14th century England, as fans of Edith Pargeter's The Brothers of Gwynedd have come to expect. Henry Bolingbroke, banished and deprived of his inheritance by Richard II, returns and deposes the king to become Henry IV. He is aided by powerful lords, especially by his friend, Harry "Hotspur" Percy. But his triumph quickly fades in the face of the ever growing crises. Not only is Wales rebelling, but the question of how Richard II really died lingers, causing dangerous trouble. The king also has powerful enemies poised to pounce, as he and his kingdom are drawn inexorably to a bloody collision some two miles from Shrewsbury.
I really enjoyed Edith Pargeter's, The Brothers of Gwynedd and was really excited to get this book for review. I was certainly not disappointed with A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury, this is historical fiction at it's best. The historical facts with a sprinkling of fiction. Pargeter fills in those little details that history seems to have left out, with plausible facts and possible outcomes.
To begin with another title probably would have suited me better, LOL but it is definitely accurate. Harry "Hotspur" Percy's rebellion led up the events that we history buffs know as The War of the Roses. Henry Bolingbroke had been discredited and fallen out of favor with Richard II. Many believed that Richard II had to be removed as king because he was considered manic depressive and was basically a loose cannon. The lords could never predict his behavior and felt he was a liability to the crown, therefore they supported Henry Bolingbroke as a successor to the crown even though there were others who had a better claim to the throne.
Henry Bolingbroke became, Henry IV, but he let the power go to his head and became increasingly hard to deal with. Harry Percy's help in getting him on the throne was now needed to remove him from it. Rumors continued to spread that perhaps Richard II didn't commit suicide, and it's eventually revealed that Bolingbroke had Richard starved to death. Rebellion in Wales is imminent and the tide is changing for Henry IV. Percy's faction openly rebels against Henry IV and he is drawn ever closer to a bloody battle near Shrewsbury.
Sir Harry Percy evolves as the prominent character in a book about kings. He is not only loyal to what he believes England to be, he works diligently toward keeping it that way. His character is one that readers will identify with. Percy is very outspoken and doesn't mince words. He says what he means and means what he says. He was always loyal to England and honest in his manner of dealing with the Kings. The nickname "Hotspur" is said to come from his impulsive nature, but here he appears to be very methodical and does what has to be done. He is the "go to" guy in this book. He gets thing done that others don't want to deal with. I liked his character a lot and thought it really showed what the age of chivalry had to offer from a knight.
This is a book historical fiction fans as well as Edith Pargeter fans will love. It was originally published in 1972 and brings to the table, a very vivid portrayal of 14th century England and powerful cost of politics. It must have been a very dangerous business to be King, one after the other several kings and queens of the past were murdered all for political gain. I've always been a history buff so this sort of novel really appeals to me as a reader. I recommend it to readers who are interested in the events that led up to the War of the Roses and to people who are interested in good historical fiction, Edith Pargeter was one of the best.
A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag.
Edith Pargeter (1913-1995) has gained worldwide praise and recognition for her historical fiction and historical mysteries, including The Brothers of Gwynedd quartet. She also wrote several novels of crime fiction as Ellis Peters. She was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) award.