Every week Tanzanite features upcoming historical fiction and history related non-fiction books that have come to her attention and may be of interest to others. Since she has an out of control TBR pile, so should everyone else!
Catherine Howard: The Adulteress Wife of Henry VIII by David Loades. Non-fiction. US and UK release October 28, 2012.
Henry's fifth Queen is best known to history as the stupid adolescent who got herself fatally entangled with lovers, and ended up on the block. However there was more to her than that. She was a symptom of the power struggle which was going on in the court in 1539-40 between Thomas Cromwell and his conservative rivals, among whom the Howard family figured prominently. The Howards were an ambitious clan, and Catherine's marriage to Henry appeared to signify their triumph. However her weakness ruined them in the short term, and undermined Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk's power permanently. Catherine's advent has to be seen against the background of the failed Cleves marriage and the policy which that represented. Her downfall similarly should be seen in terms of the reformers fighting back against the Howards, and bringing down Jane Rochford with her. Politics and sexuality were inextricably mixed, especially when the King's potency was called in question. It is time to have another look at her brief but important reign.
Imperial Legend: The Mysterious Disappearance of Tsar Alexander I by Alexis Troubetzkoy. Non-fiction. US reissue January 1, 2013.
In 1825 Czar Alexander I—a sovereign of untold power and wealth and the vanquisher of Napoleon—died in a remote village near the Crimea. Or did he?
Alexander I, one of Russia’s greatest emperors, beloved of his subjects for his many liberalizing works and reforms domestically, and for his astounding—and unexpected—victory over the presumably invulnerable Napoleon Bonaparte, reigned from 1801 to late 1825. But despite his many glittering successes at home and abroad, his immense power and wealth, the tsar was throughout his life a troubled man. Caught up in the personal and political maelstrom between his domineering grandmother Catherine the Great and his highly neurotic and volatile father Paul I, Alexander came to the throne as a result of a coup mounted against his father in March 1801. Although not an active participant in the plot, and reassured that the plan was to depose and exile the unpopular Paul, not to harm him, Alexander was devastated when the takeover turned violent and his father was assassinated. That cloud under which he acceded to the throne never lifted, and throughout his reign he often confided to family and friends his desire to thrust off the burdens of state and retire to some quiet place to live out the rest of his life.
By 1825, his popularity waning, the health of his wife becoming more fragile by the day, he decided to remove himself and a bare-bones court to Taganrog, a remote town near the Crimea. A few weeks after his arrival there, he suddenly fell ill and died on November 19, 1825. Or did he? Ever since that day, rumors have swarmed that the young and still-vigorous tsar—he was only forty-eight—had staged his death to expiate the sin that refused to leave him, the sin of patricide. The legend has it that his “reincarnation” took the form of a starets, the humble and holy men who wandered throughout nineteenth-century Russia doing good works. That starets, brilliant and uncommonly erudite, was one Feodor Kuzmich. So widespread and persistent was the belief that Tsar Alexander and Feodor Kuzmich were one and the same that the great Leo Tolstoy planned to write a book on the subject. Imperial Legend, with a deft touch and a fresh voice, “solves” one of the most intriguing royal mysteries of the past two centuries.
Monarch by Rory Clements. UK release February 28, 2013
From Rory Clements, winner of the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award, comes MONARCH, the fifth in his acclaimed John Shakespeare Elizabethan mystery series. 'Does for Elizabeth's reign what CJ Sansom does for Henry VIII's' Sunday Times
England may have survived the Armada threat of 1588, but when Spanish galleys land troops in Cornwall on a lightning raid seven years later, is it a dry-run for a new invasion? Or is there, perhaps, a more sinister motive? The Queen is speechless with rage. But as intelligencer John Shakespeare tries to get a grip on events, one by one his network of spies is horribly murdered. What has all this to do with Thomasyn Jade, a girl driven to the edge of madness by the foul rituals of exorcism? And what is the link to a group of priests held prisoner in bleak Wisbech Castle?
From the pain-wracked torture rooms of the Inquisition in Seville to the marshy wastes of fenland, from the wild coasts of Cornwall to the sweat and sawdust of the Elizabethan playhouses, and from the condemned cell at Newgate to the devilish fantasies of a fanatic, MONARCH builds to a terrifying climax that threatens the life of the Queen herself.
Holy War by Jack Hight. UK release March 28, 2013.
In HOLY WAR, the final book of the Saladin Trilogy, telling the story of the legendary war leader who united Arabia, Saladin recaptures Jerusalem from the Crusaders, and prepares for his ultimate battle against Richard the Lionheart. A full-blooded historical adventure novel for all fans of Conn Iggulden, Bernard Cornwell, Anthony Riches, Ben Kane, Robyn Young and Simon Scarrow.
While Saladin ruthlessly sets about uniting the whole of Arabia under his rule, the Kingdom of Jerusalem is torn apart by treachery and intrigue and when the murderous knight Reynald of Chatillon raids a caravan heading from Damascus to Mecca and rapes Saladin's sister, the scene is set for war.
The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne. US and UK release April 2, 2013.
From the author of The Absolutist, a propulsive novel of the Russian Revolution and the fate of the Romanovs.
Part love story, part historical epic, part tragedy, The House of Special Purpose illuminates an empire at the end of its reign. Eighty-year-old Georgy Jachmenev is haunted by his past—a past of death, suffering, and scandal that will stay with him until the end of his days. Living in England with his beloved wife, Zoya, Georgy prepares to make one final journey back to the Russia he once knew and loved, the Russia that both destroyed and defined him. As Georgy remembers days gone by, we are transported to St. Petersburg, to the Winter Palace of the czar, in the early twentieth century—a time of change, threat, and bloody revolution. As Georgy overturns the most painful stone of all, we uncover the story of the house of special purpose.
Knight Crusader by Ronald Welch. Young Adult/children. UK reissue April 2013.
Philip d'Aubigny is a young knight in the kingdom of Outremer and can't wait to prove himself. His chance comes when he rides into battle to defend his home from attack by Saracen leader, Saladin and his army. But after a disastrous campaign, Philip is taken prisoner by the Turks and must work as a servant-and all the while he is plotting his escape. At last his opportunity arrives and Philip flees, joining Richard the Lionheart in his victorious Third Crusade before finally travelling to Britain to claim his family's estate. Only when he arrives, he finds he must once again go into battle . . .
This exciting tale has captured the hearts and imaginations of young readers for many years and was the winner of the prestigious Carnegie Medal (in 1954). This edition features the original black and white illustrations throughout which perfectly evoke the atmosphere of the story.
At the Grey Apple Tree by Berwick Coates. US and UK release 2013.
On the top of the hill stands a solitary grey apple tree, the symbol of all that England is. In less than a week this will be the scene of the greatest battle in living memory. At the grey apple tree two armies will face one another. Two men will lead those armies. And two forces will become one - a victorious nation, a valiant army, a conqueror. This is a battle for honour, a battle for survival. This is a battle for England.
Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel by Ginger Garrett. US release May 1, 2013.
From critically acclaimed author Ginger Garret comes a compelling portrait of one of the most notorious women of the Old Testament, Jezebel.
Reign is faithful to the biblical account, with startling evidence uncovered by archeologists woven into the story. From her marriage to Ahab until her death, Jezebel’s heart is unveiled—a heart capable of passion and pain, love and hate. Captivating storytelling reveals another side to a familiar story as Jezebel maneuvers through heated palace politics, pitting the goddess Asherah against Obadiah’s God, Yahweh. And it may cost her everything.
The third book in the Lost Loves of the Bible fiction series is ideally suited for historical fiction fans and anyone fascinated by the lives of biblical women. It’s as haunting as it is relevant—the story of a woman forced to choose between love and vengeance.