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Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England | [Thomas Penn]

Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England

A fresh look at the endlessly fascinating Tudors - the dramatic and overlooked story of Henry VII and his founding of the Tudor Dynasty - filled with spies, plots, counter-plots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII. Near the turn of the sixteenth century, England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy and civil war. Henry Tudor clambered to the top of the heap, a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s crown who managed to win the throne and stay on it for 24 years.
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Publisher's Summary

A fresh look at the endlessly fascinating Tudors - the dramatic and overlooked story of Henry VII and his founding of the Tudor Dynasty - filled with spies, plots, counter-plots, and an uneasy royal succession to Henry VIII.

Near the turn of the sixteenth century, England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy and civil war. Henry Tudor clambered to the top of the heap, a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England’s crown who managed to win the throne and stay on it for 24 years. Although he built palaces, hosted magnificent jousts, and sent ambassadors across Europe, for many Henry VII remained a false king. But he had a crucial asset: his family - the queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Now, in what would be the crowning glory of his reign, his elder son would marry a great Spanish princess.

Thomas Penn re-creates an England that is both familiar and very strange - a country medieval yet modern, in which honor and chivalry mingle with espionage, realpolitik, high finance, and corruption. It is the story of the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen, as well as of Henry VII - controlling, avaricious, paranoid, with Machiavellian charm and will to power.

Rich with incident and drama, filled with wonderfully drawn characters, Winter King is an unforgettable account of pageantry, intrigue, the thirst for glory, and the fraught, unstable birth of Tudor England.

Thomas Penn has a PhD in early Tudor history from Clare College, Cambridge. Winter King is his first book.

©2011 Thomas Penn (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“I feel I’ve been waiting to read this book a long time. It’s a fluent and compelling account of the cost of founding the Tudor dynasty.” (Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize–winning author of Wolf Hall)

“An exceptionally stylish literary debut…[Penn’s] book should be the first port of call for anyone trying to understand England’s most flagrant usurper since William the Conqueror.” (Diarmaid MacCulloch, New York Times best-selling author)

“A definitive and accessible account of the reign of Henry VII.” (Guardian (UK))

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    E. Stein Bedford, NY 06-09-12
    E. Stein Bedford, NY 06-09-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Excellent portrayal of a man and his time"

    This is the first modern biography of Henry VII, and it is long overdue. Penn does an excellent job of pulling together the complicated story of Henry's reign, its improbable and contested beginning, and its tragedies and betrayals. Henry is a difficult man to sympathize with, which perhaps explains the dearth of biographers, but the strains and disappointments of his reign explain a good deal about the subsequent Tudor preoccupations with legitimacy, continental standing, and continuity. This should satisfy both serious history students and those wishing for a general introduction to Tudor England. The narrator is quite good, as well.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel Mayer Richardton, ND 07-29-12
    Joel Mayer Richardton, ND 07-29-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Must read of English Monarchical Succession"

    This is a very solid and well researched book. I will probably listen to it again because my main problem was that I lost track of some of the characters of Henry VII advisors and they switched from help to hindrance so many times I had trouble keeping track of them, but this is as likely a problem with my memory as with the book. It does a really good job of describing not only Henry VII and his personality but how it came to influence his famous son, Henry VIII. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in English Monarchical history.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Archie 07-26-12
    Archie 07-26-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Very well written"

    Everyone has heard and read about Henry VIII. But his father, Henry VII???

    I certainly knew very little before listening to this book but know much more now. Thomas Penn's magnificently written biography is a magnificent, interesting all encompassing read. Simon Vance, once again, is an outstanding narrator.

    This is a must if history interests you.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy STEEP FALLS, ME, United States 07-09-12
    Amy STEEP FALLS, ME, United States 07-09-12
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    "Fantastic Book!"
    What did you love best about Winter King?

    This book is incredibly in-depth and yet an easy listen.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is the first Simon Vance performance I have heard, but I would definitely listen to another.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Die Falknerin 07-27-13 Member Since 2008

    Painter, musician, bibliophile...

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    "An almost forgotten king brought to life"

    Having just watched BBC's 1972 dramatic series "In the Shadow of the Tower" and then reading of the discovery of Richard III's body in the car park, I decided to go back a little further and learn more about the man who started the dynasty that has become so glamorized and popular, often at the expense of solid fact.

    How easy it to overlook Henry VII, who is left in the shade by some of his larger-than-life children and grandchildren! I have been guilty of this myself, having read about the Tudors for a good thirty years now. But in this biography, Thomas Penn brings the story of a complex and unusual man to life.

    I wouldn't say Henry Tudor was a man most of us would like --- we might even "love to hate" him. But I found him fascinating nonetheless. A highly intelligent, deeply suspicious and shrewd man, he sometimes reminds one of a spider weaving a web. Or a dark master of marionettes. But there is more to him than his reputation for parsimony and intrigue, as you will find.

    One of the great joys of reading history is when you find a book that makes you want to learn even more about the "supporting" characters. I found "The Winter King" to be one of those books. I have a whole list of people I want to learn more about, which means I'll be going back in time to revisit the Wars of the Roses along with much else besides.

    I would gladly read another book by Thomas Penn. Simon Vance's narration made this one especially splendid. Highly recommended for devotees of English history.

    Also recommended: G.J. Meyer's "The Tudors," a veritable omnibus of the three generations that ruled England.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Rogers San Antonio, TX, USA 09-09-12
    N. Rogers San Antonio, TX, USA 09-09-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Competent But Not Compelling"

    Winter King is a detailed, clearly written and logical account of the life of Henry VII. I had previously read little about this English king, founder of the Tudor dynasty, so I appreciated the depth the author provided in this biography of the man. However, Henry wasn't a particularly admirable or charismatic person, so while learning this much about him was "good for my mind," it was not especially enjoyable or inspiring.

    I recommend this book only for readers who are seriously interested in the Tudors and want a more complete understanding of the man who began their period of rule. The account explains much about the infamous Henry VIII who more than made up for his father's basic dullness with his own flamboyant, ostentatious reign. In many obvious ways he counter-scripted his father's style of kingship. However, both men were very aware of the tenuousness of their claim to the English throne and were therefore scrupulous in surrounding themselves and their court with a number of blatant outward symbols of royalty and wealth. They both could be extremely ruthless in holding onto power and obtaining what they wanted personally, showing little regard for the rights of their subjects or even those of their own family members.

    Listening to Winter King was a worthwhile use of my time because the biography was well done, but mostly because I have a fascination with Elizabeth I and this book fills in an important piece of her family puzzle.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 07-30-12
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 07-30-12 Member Since 2011

    "fabric artist and quilter"

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    "Act One of the Tudor Dynasty"

    This was a most interesting book - we all know about Henry 8 and Elizabeth 1 and probably know about Bloody Mary and the fact that Edward, H8's only son, reigned for a short time but the first in the Tudor dynasty is glossed over. After this book I don't understand why - Henry VII is a most interesting and complex man. He was also a most unfortunate and unlucky man loosing his son and heir and his wife in quick succession - he never full recovered from that despite the fact his second son was to go on to be the most famous King in English history.

    There was lots of information and interesting facts and it has rewetted my appetite for all things Tudor. I enjoyed the book and recommend it for those interested in Tudor history and to those that want to know more about H8's father.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 11-23-12
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 11-23-12 Member Since 2010

    Audio-addict!!

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    "Excellent bio filled with fascinating stories..."

    If you have an interest in the war of the roses or in the Tudor dynasty, this book is a must read!
    In this book, all the characters who make such a stir in the Tudor history appear, even those who make history all on their own... The Dudley's first appearance, the Howard's and Boleyn's; then we read of the Borgia Pope, Alexandre and his famously evil son Cesare; even the Hapsburgs (Marie Antoinette's powerful family) make an appearance. The list goes on... Henry himself is a most unique and intriguing character, who lived a difficult life to bring stability to England in many ways. one of the most important to him was ending the civil wars! He eliminated any chance for a contested succession, among many other things he did, but is not remembered for.

    On its own merit, it's very well written and doesn't feel like a textbook. It's fascinating, well-read, and I was sorry to finish the book if the little known but ultimately extremely important monarch: Henry VII!

    Very impressive book!

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 01-09-14
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 01-09-14 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "King Henry VII Founder of the Tudors"
    What made the experience of listening to Winter King the most enjoyable?

    This was a great follow up book from the Plantagenets book I had just finished. Henry VII was an interesting man in his own right and I enjoyed learning about how he ruled.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    His mother, Margaret was quite eccentric enough to enjoy seeing what she would do next.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    No particular scene but I enjoyed the family of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York and how they really bonded and cared for each other.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Arthur died and both parents took it very hard. All their hopes and dreams had been with him and it was all shattered. Then Elizabeth died and Henry was alone in his grief. Very sad.


    Any additional comments?

    I love historical novels and this book reads a good deal like one. It is a history though and not a novel and the facts are quite interesting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Forrest Jonesboro, AR, United States 02-25-13
    Forrest Jonesboro, AR, United States 02-25-13
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    "A must to anyone interest in the period."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I really loved this one. You must pay attention as not to loose track of the family tree and players, but if you can keep all that straight, it is very great to listen too.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It is of coarse about Henry VII most of all. Learned a lot about the man and although he is not a beloved character, he was sure a king that a person would be interested in.


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I found Simon Vance a good listen. Very good.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I think the book is long and needs digesting in steps, but I sure did not want to be away from it more then a day or two.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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