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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.

Critic Reviews

“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))

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
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England's Henry VII leading to Henry VIII

Enjoyable Tudor History. Helps in my understanding of English Government much controled by the King

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Henry VIII: Prequel!

If you could sum up Winter King in three words, what would they be?

"Henry VIII Prequel"<br/>I treated this experience as a prequel to reading I'm heading into following this book--more (always more!) on Henry VIII. My interest has been reignited by the books Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies--both amazing.

What did you like best about this story?

I am blown away by the political and marketing savvy of Henry VII and his mother, Catherine Beaufort(?). They created the legend of the Tudors pretty much out of whole cloth. I was not aware of this degree of "sophistication" in that period.

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

Simon's narration is impeccable. He reads the book, for sure, but it sounds like he's telling the story from his mind and heart.

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

No--I was engaged enough to do so, but it's very long and covers a long period. "Digestion" between "meals" was vital!

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Fantastic overview of Henry VII

Great narration and the story moves fast. Henry VIII gets most of the attention in popular history do this is an excellent primer on how his father created the monarchy Henry VIII would inherit.

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Fascinating.

Enjoyed it thoroughly. Henry VII is the prince Machiavelli could have been thinking about as he wrote The Prince. Recommended.

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Nice enough story..

But I got lost many times with so many names thrown out and I felt sometimes the narration diverted to stories of other people when it should be more on the reign of the King. Most of the details were like.. Junk. But overall one would learn a thing or two listening to this.

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  • john
  • Battery Point, Australia
  • 03-29-15

Brilliant

Highly recommended.

Get it if you have any interest in the period. Nothing startling and new but delivered in a clear way that others could do well to emulate.

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Can be tedious, but generally interesting

Would you consider the audio edition of Winter King to be better than the print version?

I dont know. I didnt read the print version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Winter King?

Learning about the domestic and foreign policies of Henry VII and how he ran his kingdom in comparison to his more famous son

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

Im not sure. He was good. But Im not sure he was transcendent or anything..

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

No

Any additional comments?

A good historical book. The topics back then are all the same.. intrigue, secret plots, marriage alliances, doing odd things in the name or religion... if youre interested in the history and can get through the first part. its a good listen

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"Glorious summer" made winter once again...

Would you listen to Winter King again? Why?

Definitely would listen to this one again. Nonfiction can be dry but this was well-written and well read. There was a lot of information presented that I'd come across before but it was woven into a pretty smooth narrative. The author does have a couple of phrases, expressions, words, that are noticeably repeated, but I didn't find this to be an annoyance, just something I noticed.

What other book might you compare Winter King to and why?

The subject matter here makes it difficult to compare to another book. SB Chrimes wrote the Yale English Monarchs series entry on Henry VII and that suffers a bit from being that type of dry academic work that is so difficult to stick with to the last page. If you like David Starkey's biographies, this is probably up your alley.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

His voice was even and steady but not at all monotonous.

Any additional comments?

Given that Henry VII was a cipher in life and has remained so or become more of one in death, it isn't surprising that this book comes across as a portrait of a man painted by filling in the space around him. It is nearly impossible to know much of Henry that isn't a reflection off of someone or something else. This is more apparent in the 2nd half of the book, as first Prince Arthur's and then Queen Elizabeth's death marks the point at which Henry, always secretive, always guarded, retreats and even the glimpses of a happy behind-the-scenes family life fall away and all we are left with are records of a reign descending into a feudal police state. The book ends with the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII and based on what he's done in Winter King, I'm hoping that Mann will continue into that reign with his work.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and Tight

I've been working my way backward and forward through British royalty, starting with Elizabeth 1. This is a nicely done history that is juicy enough to keep you going. More than anything, it reminded me how very unpleasant it has to be to be so public that all your quirks and warts are there for all to see.
All in all, a good read.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • El
  • Costa Rica
  • 10-05-12

Exceptional

Winter King ranks among the best books I have listened to this year. Simon Vance is a terrific narrator.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful