Henry (Book Three of the Tudor Trilogy) by Tony Riches

By Nathen Amin

‘Henry’ is the much-awaited third instalment of Tony Riches’ well-received and well-reviewed ‘Tudor Trilogy’ series, following up on ‘Owen’ (reviewed here) and ‘Jasper’, released in 2015 and 2016 respectively. As with its predecessors, ‘Henry’ follows a similar format with an easy-to-read narrative allowing you to become consumed by a fast-paced story covering the most fascinating aspects of the subject’s life. It doesn’t take long for you to feel part of the story, always a positive when it comes to a work of fiction you’re hoping will allow you an escape from the pressures of real life.

The book, twenty-five chapters long, begins in August 1485 with the attention-grabbing admission from the main character that he never in fact wanted to be king. Riches’ sombre Henry proves to be a reluctant hero, a man who stepped up to the plate because there was nobody else to challenge the tyranny of Richard III. As his uncle Jasper puts it to his nephew, “if you were king, you could bring peace to this country”. This serves as Henry’s motivation throughout the book, something I believe was true of the historical Henry;

“The archbishop blessed their union and declared them man and wife. Henry lifted Elizabeth’s gossamer veil and kissed her. As he did so, a weight lifted from his shoulders. He’d finally united Lancaster and York and would never have to face life alone again”.

As is Riches’ well-established style, the story doesn’t dawdle or stutter, and remains fast-paced throughout the work. There is little time wasted on irrelevant minute details, but rather the book is very much plot-driven, from Henry’s coronation to the birth of his children, whilst major story arcs include the various pretenders who threatened his throne and the heart-wrenching deaths of his wife and heir. This is not to suggest the work is rushed and incomplete; before you realise it, you will have read far more in one sitting than anticipated, such is the struggle to extradite yourself away from the Tudor court and put the book to one side.

A significant part of the book is spent exploring the relationship between Henry and his wife Elizabeth; unlike other fiction books featuring the pair, Riches’ follows known historical fact and puts forward a warm, even loving, relationship between the pair. They play cards together, hunt together, plan their family and even discuss policy in private, very much a united power-couple. I particularly felt touched by Henry’s gradual alienation from his children, and the realisation at one point that he barely knew his seven-year-old son Arthur, having become preoccupied with matters of state. At one point, the young prince, a serious character, refers to his father as ‘your grace’ and is gently admonished by the king.

‘Father’. He corrected his shy son. ‘You must call me father’. Henry studied his son’s thin, pale face and glimpsed an echo of his himself at the same age. ‘You are growing into a fine scholar, Arthur’, he grinned, ‘but we must make time for merrymaking. We shall spend more time together. I will teach you how to lose your money at cards!’

Henry is a likeable protagonist, portrayed at odds with the cold caricature often found in similar works that is at odds with the real Henry. He is backed up a charming Elizabeth for whom it is easy to fall for, her attractiveness leaping off the page. What I enjoyed most, however, was how Henry was shown to be a real man; not a superhero, not infallible, not perfect, but just a flawed man trying to navigate his way through a chaotic life using his considerable mental faculties, innate determination to do the best and natural inclination for caution. The book is an easy-to-read escape and a fitting conclusion to the Tudor Trilogy series. There are far worse historical fiction books on the market, and with ones featuring Henry VII, there are few better than Riches’ ‘Henry’. I strongly suggest you pick up your copy soon, or, even better, get hold of all three instalments in the trilogy.

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Tony Riches is a full time author from Pembrokeshire, West Wales, an area full of inspiration for his writing. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present day Kenya.

His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period. Best known for his Tudor Trilogy, Tony’s other international best sellers include ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’. In his spare time Tony enjoys sailing and sea kayaking. Visit Tony online at http://www.tonyriches.co.uk, Tony Riches Author on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @tonyriches.

Book Launch – Jasper, Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

I’m pleased to announce the launching of Tony Riches’ second book in his historical fiction trilogy series, Jasper.

Following the best-selling historical fiction novel OWEN – Book One of The Tudor Trilogy, this is the story, based on actual events, of Owen’s son Jasper Tudor, who changes the history of England forever.

England 1461: The young King Edward of York takes the country by force from King Henry VI of Lancaster. Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, flees the massacre of his Welsh army at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross and plans a rebellion to return his half-brother King Henry to the throne.

When King Henry is imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London and murdered, Jasper escapes to Brittany with his young nephew, Henry Tudor. After the sudden death of King Edward and the mysterious disappearance of his sons, a new king, Edward’s brother Richard III takes the English Throne. With nothing but his wits and charm, Jasper sees his chance to make young Henry Tudor king with a daring and reckless invasion of England.

Set in the often brutal world of fifteenth century England, Wales, Scotland, France, Burgundy and Brittany, during the Wars of the Roses, this fast-paced story is one of courage and adventure, love and belief in the destiny of the Tudors.

“Without the heroic Jasper Tudor there could have been no Tudor dynasty.” Terry Breverton, author, historian and Television Presenter.

“Jasper Tudor was the greatest survivor of the Wars of the Roses. Whilst almost all his contemporaries suffered often brutal and bloody deaths, Jasper persevered against all the odds. That’s not to say it was easy, as you will discover.” Nathen Amin, Author of Tudor Wales

Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy

The book is available on Amazon UK, US and AU.

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time.

For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

Book Review – Owen (Book One of the Tudor Trilogy) by Tony Riches

By Nathen Amin

As a matter of personal preference I do not often read historical fiction work. I find the focus on author creative licence over historical accuracy a distraction and as such I am therefore fairly unacquainted with works by writers such as Philippa Gregory. That being said, my interest was piqued when I came across Owen by Pembrokeshire author Tony Riches.

Owen Tudor was a fascinating character who led a remarkable life, a Welshman with a story that wouldn’t be out of place on the silver screen. Tudor was born in North Wales around 1400 to an ancient Welsh noble family from Anglesey. He was descended from the Princes of South Wales and his father was a cousin of the great Welsh warrior, Owain Glyndwr. After the collapse of the latter’s Welsh Wars of Independence the Tudor family were ruined and Owen found himself exiled to London. Although the specifics have become shrouded in myth it seems he worked his way into the household of Queen Katherine of Valois, Dowager Queen of Henry V, and eventually gain her trust to the extent they were secretly wed. Together it seems they had at least four children before her death in 1437, at which point Owen became imprisoned for his crime of marrying the king’s mother without the consent of the council. After his release he was intimately involved in the Wars of the Roses conflict, tied to the House of Lancaster through his sons, Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke. The earls were the half-brothers of Henry VI and Owen fought alongside his sons as the wars progressed. Aged around 60 Owen was captured during the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461 and led to Hereford where he was executed. His grandson became King Henry VII, the archetypal rags to riches tale.

indexThe story of Owen Tudor is always one worth recounting and in my opinion has been unfortunately underutilised in fiction and nonfiction alike. Therefore I was pleased to discover Riches has used Owen as the protagonist for the first install of his forthcoming Tudor trilogy. Riches’ story commences in 1422 with a dashing young Owen employed as a servant in the household of the recently widowed Dowager Queen of England, Katherine of Valois. The queen is beautiful but lonely and it isn’t long before Owen is enamoured with Katherine, although their affair is not an immediate plot device.

The story is told from the point of view of Owen and the narrative is short, sharp and to the point. Riches does not waste words and the result is a hard-hitting account of Owen’s life which moves a considerable pace. Some writers dwell on insignificant plotlines and often seem to be writing for writings’ sake at times, which makes Riches’ work a refreshing and captivating read. There are moments of humour, drama, tragedy and triumph and it seems Riches has captured the exhilarating life of Owen Tudor well. A passage at the beginning of the book, recalled by the adult Owen, certainly sets the tone for the enthralling read ahead.

 “‘Aim High, Boy’, my garrulous longbow tutor once advised me, his voice gruff from too much shouting. ‘It’s not the Welsh way to play safe and wait until you have a clean shot’”.

It’s fair to say Owen Tudor never played it safe and certainly Riches has aimed high like his protagonist. I look forward to following his Tudor trilogy as it progresses through Jasper Tudor and Henry Tudor’s lives.

You can buy the via Amazon – UK or US

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Tony Riches lives in West Wales UK, happily dividing his time between writing and sea kayaking. He has also penned Warwick – The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham.