• The Wars of the Roses

  • The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors
  • By: Dan Jones
  • Narrated by: John Curless
  • Length: 15 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (3,291 ratings)

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The Wars of the Roses  By  cover art

The Wars of the Roses

By: Dan Jones
Narrated by: John Curless
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Publisher's summary

The author of the New York Times best-seller The Plantagenets chronicles the next chapter in British history - the actual historical backdrop for Game of Thrones. The 15th century saw the longest and bloodiest series of civil wars in British history. The crown of England changed hands five times as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. Now, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors. Some of the greatest heroes and villains in history were thrown together in these turbulent times - from Joan of Arc and Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt and prudent rule marked the high point of the medieval English monarchy, to Richard III, who stole the throne and murdered his own nephews, the princes in the Tower. It is also a period of headstrong and resilient women - Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort - who were not afraid to seize power and bend men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this is a bold and dramatic narrative history that will delight listeners who like their history with a healthy dose of bedlam, romance, and intrigue.

©2014 Daniel Jones (P)2014 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Wars of the Roses

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No Need for a Score Card

Following up on the story and success of The Plantagenets, Dan Jones now offers a book that I consider to be a public service for those just dipping into this subject. The Wars of the Roses is an era of great turmoil and upheaval, which means the players involved are many, and some of them switch sides as opportunity or desperation strikes. Most history books I've read on this subject either keeps it simplistic (in accordance with the propaganda of the Tudor era) or would have you believe it's so overly complex that only an expert can wade into it with any amount of confidence, and even they might need a score card to keep up. Most people I talk to who know anything about the era have learned from historical fiction. Fine and well as a stepping stone, but no novel can ever compete with the real story. The challenge is to find a book that presents it in such a way as to build the layers of intrigue and still keep it simple enough to read like a novel.

Like The Plantagenents before it, this book fits this bill. The scope and depth of this era are extended out even farther than many other books I've read on this, seeing this entire era as fallout from events in the Hundred Years War. Henry V's victory at Agincourt leads to Joan of Arc's rally of her people, and Henry V's weak and childlike successor to the English throne leads to... this story. Where other books drop the reader right in and let us fend for ourselves, Jones gives us the context and guides us expertly through this time to what will become the reign of the Tudors. The result is a fascinating and satisfying read for those inclined to read a story like this one. While this book stands alone, I personally found it to be a wonderful companion tome to The Plantagenents. I'm hoping Jones is working on a similar project for the Tudors next, being the logical next part of the story.

On a side note, for fantasy enthusiasts, this is the era that provides much of the historical inspiration for George R. R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire (i.e., Game of Thrones). While there are no dragons or whitewalkers to be found here, the fact that people keep coming back to this well speaks volumes of how interesting this story can be given even a halfway decent presentation. For even the remotely curious, this is an excellent book.

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109 people found this helpful

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A Little Difficult in Audiobook Format

This is a great book that really helps with an understanding of the incredibly important Wars of the Roses. The Wars of the Roses led to the foundations of modern England. This is a two-part series by the same author along with The Plantagenets. I liked The Plantagenets better because it was easier to follow in an audiobook format just listening on my daily commute. The history gets much more convoluted in the Wars of the Roses, making it harder to follow in short intervals. It also would have been easier to follow with a chart in front of me to know who was who. The history of the Wars of the Roses is a mess of interwoven families and opponents who often switched sides, sometimes with no warning. Also, people sometimes changed names after inheriting titles, further complicating the task of following along. Despite this small complaint, it is still an excellent history book worthy of the time to listen to it.

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  • R.
  • 06-01-15

Fabulous story; but need a scorecard.

Finally I understand the War of the Roses!
A masterpiece of historical writing by Dan Jones and I could listen to Curless read recipes.
This is one of those complex stories, however, where a supplemental set of maps and a 22 x 34 family tree would add enormous value.

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74 people found this helpful

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Surprisingly interesting.

Any additional comments?

I'm a person who loves history, but finds wars less then interesting. I stumbled upon this book, and debated on whether to get it or not. I ADORED the author's previous book, the Plantagenets, and had eagerly awaited the sequel, but when I saw this, I wavered. The War of the Roses never really interested me. I thought it was just some battles between warring families over succession.

Boy, was I ever wrong. This book is just as good and fascinating as the previous. War actually takes up a small part of the story. There's so much going on other then just fighting, and the author tells it in such a comprehensive and interesting way, that it's hard not to get hooked.

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40 people found this helpful

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Curless brings Dan Jones to Life

Dan Jones is brilliant. John Curless brought a voice to his brilliance. If you're a history dope like me, you are going to LOVE this book. Enjoy.

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14 people found this helpful

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I'm going to listen to this again. . .

I loved "The Plantagenets" but I feel like I missed something here. It moved so much faster and I had trouble staying on top of who did what to whom. I'm sure that when I listen again, I will be able to track the skullduggery without a problem.
I enjoyed the narration more with this book and Mr. Jones story structure and vocabulary are superlative, as before.
I will update my review after I listen again, in the meantime, I think I'll listen to some fluff.

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Mind boggling

Would you listen to The Wars of the Roses again? Why?

Yes. There were some intrigues which need to be reviewed.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eleanor of Aquitaine for her intelligence, beauty, and, in her old age, not suffering fools gladly.

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

His pronunciation of the more difficult names was helpful.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Brother against brother.

Any additional comments?

Fascinating saga of British royalty.

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Dense material elegantly handled!

Excellent summary of a fascinating and complex time. Though I love history, this era had eluded me. As with many, Game of Thrones piqued my interest and I was not disappointed!

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Good book on the subject.

Another fine book by Dan Jones. The narrative is even handed. The performance was excellent.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not nearly as good as The Plantagenets

I loved the audio book version of The Plantagenets. I've listened to it 3 times and I still enjoy it every time. The structure is well laid out, the narration is smooth and appropriate for the topic, and the history flows very well. This one is a 180° turn. I listen to audio books in the car while I drive (usually for about 1.5 hrs at a time) and I can't make it through this book. I've tried twice. I love history and I had pretty good knowledge of the Wars of the Roses before I listened, but this was uninteresting and confusing. I really can't tell if it is more of the author's or the narrator's fault. As soon as the narrator's voice comes on the car speaker, I become disinterested and would rather unsafely look at Facebook while driving than listen to him.

The writing though also leaves something to be desired. It felt like Mr
Jones had a success with the prequel and was rushed to put this one out. It moves incredibly fast, without any of the depth of The Plantagenets. It felt like it was a sprint to Henry 7th instead of an appreciation of the journey. I felt like I knew all the various ins and outs of the kings from Henry 2 to Richard 2 after hearing his first book, but I couldn't tell you anything about most of the historical figures from this book that I didn't already know.

The time period is pretty confusing, so it seems like it would make more sense to slow it down to ensure the reader is able to follow along. I think the book form would probably be okay, but combined with a poor narrator this was a complete disappointment.

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4 people found this helpful