Thursday, October 8, 2015

Conn Iggulden's War of the Roses Books

I have just finished reading the third of Conn Iggulden's War of the Roses saga. The books so far are "Stormbird", "Trinity" and "Bloodline" give a really good account of the battle between the Houses of Lancaster and York in late 15th Century England.

In the past I had read a lot of historical accounts - mainly focussed on the battles - but these "novels" give a very good account of the politics and motivations behind the key players.

Strangely, I've never been a big proponent of either of the Houses and these books have made it clear why. England basically bumbled into a civil war against the backdrop of a weak - read mentally incapacitated - king. The motivations of the key players do not seem particularly venal, rather they all were motivated by what they saw as the best course (with the possible exception of Lord Salisbury, the patriarch of the Neville clan).

Salisbury saw it as an opportunity to progress a long held grudge against the Percy family of Northumbria. What is staggering is how interrelated all these families were - one of the Percy wives was a Salisbury (Neville) daughter.

The books switch viewpoints throughout and you see the conflict through the eyes of each of the main players. In the end the feeling is one of tragedy and it is no wonder Shakespeare used it as backdrop to many of his great plays.

The battles are well handled - especially Towton (the biggest battle ever on UK soil) - and give a feel of the tactics of the time.

If you've read any of Iggulden's other series (Mongol Conquests, Republican Rome) then you should love this set. The series is still incomplete we still have to experience both Barnet (Richard "Kingmaker" Neville, Earl of Warwick's death) and Bosworth Field (the death of Richard III). I'm keen to see how he handles these, in particular the last one as there has been a major revisionism around Richard recently and Iggulden has portrayed him in a sympathetic light to date.

Well worth the read (or listen).


  1. Excellent. I didnt realise the 3rd was out yet.

    I've enjoyed the first two. Although I enjoyed his Mongol series the most (with the exception of the last book... which seemed to fade rather than finish).

    Definitely agree that the Caesar series is worth reading as well.

    Highly recommended Author.

  2. Cheers Pete, good recommendation. I've read all of the Rome series and the Mongol books and had missed the War of the Roses ones so will pick them up.