©1983 Thomas Costain; (P)2009 Random House
This book covers the last century of Plantagenent rule in England, or 1377-1485 to be exact. I thought it was excellent except for the final bit on Richard III, the last Last Plantagenent. The first half of the book covers the 1377-1399 reign of Richard II. At first blush, this may seem lopsided, but it is not because this is perhaps the most interesting period of the entire Plantagenent rule. Featured is the Peasant's Revolt and a rather quirky monarch who is forcibly removed from office. The narrator impersonates Richard II with a high, pompous voice that reminds the reader with every utterance of the fundamental reason that his subjects ultimately found him to be intolerable.
The book proceeds through the reigns of three Henry's and the confused period of the War of the Roses more rapidly, although it does justice to interesting characters such as Owen Glendower of Wales and Catherine of Valois.
My only problem with the book is its coverage of the final two year reign of Richard III. At this point, the author switches his style, and the exposition comes off as if it were written by Richard's defense attorney. For example, the author make a somewhat compelling case that Richard was not the man who committed the infamous murder of the Princes in the Tower. He ignores the equally compelling case, made by other authors, that Richard was guilty of these murders. Perhaps this can be excused because the "Richard is innocent" argument was new at the time the book was written, but it seems unbalanced to a 21st century reader.
The good parts of the book greatly outweigh the bad, however,so I recommend it highly to readers interested in this period.
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