The story is told in a series of “snapshots”, often starting in the middle of a conversation or event which then provides some information that allows the reader to “catch up” where necessary. The result is often a more intimate look into events and characters that manages to avoid getting bogged down in too many details. The reader is given a glimpse into the private conversations that take place between husbands and wives, close friends, and co-conspirators, providing different scenarios for some of the more well-known events in Richard’s life. I liked the approach of telling the story this way, but if you aren't familiar with the basic history, I can see how it might be a little confusing.
Tannahill’s Richard is neither a saint nor the devil. He makes mistakes – sometimes for what seems to be good reasons and sometimes, with a rashness he later regrets. Those closest to him think his taking of the throne is a mistake. The death of the Princes in the Tower occurs in the traditional way (smothering) but is attributed to someone other than the usual suspects. I don’t know how likely it is, but it was nice to see a different approach. It is the panicked actions of a servant who will set into motion the rumors and innuendo that form the basis for Richard’s enemies to get people on their side to oust the “murderer of babes”.
Richard’s wife, Anne, plays a bigger role here than I’ve seen in other novels and I thought she was well portrayed.. Although she does have somewhat of a “delicate” nature, this doesn’t stop her from having her own opinions or a mind of her own, as well as a great sense of humor. She loves Richard and tries to be supportive. But she struggles with some of the things Richard has done and as things in the country become more unstable, Richard shuts her out emotionally, focusing all of his time and energy on putting down rebellions and quieting gossip. Although there is no question as to why Richard married her (for her land of course), he does come to love her and by the time he realizes the distance that has come between them, it is almost too late.
Favorite lines: "You are in a hurry? You have other men to murder? Then perhaps you had better leave us." King Edward V to Richard and Buckingham after the execution of Hastings where the young king attempts to assert his place.
Rating: Very Good