CROWN OF DESTINY
Sandra Worth

 


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Book Two of The Rose Of York
End Table Books/Metropolis Ink, June 2006
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Fifteenth Century England

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is like a knight in a sewer at the court of his brother King Edward IV. As Edward keeps telling him, Richard has no statescraft. To Edward, statescraft includes ignoring the murder of his brother-in-law by one of the barons of the royal household. It also includes allowing his rapacious wife to steal a work of art she covets and frame the true owner for a capital crime. Richard can barely keep his mouth shut as titled criminals run rampant through court, and the Queen conducts a deadly campaign of backstabbing.

The North of England is home to Richard. There are his beloved wife Anne and son Ned, both too frail for prolonged stays at court. Northerners are his people. They have been won by Richard’s fairness and dedication to duty, and Anne’s generous charities. Richard can act according to his sense of justice, in this part of the country where he rules without interference.

Edward’s health has been ruined by overindulgence in pleasure. He has no adult heirs. When Edward dies, his beautiful, evil Queen and her family the Woodvilles will seize their chance to take control of England, ruling through Edward’s young son. One of their first targets for death will be Edward’s trusted brother Richard. With Richard dead, there would be no one left with the ability to control them.

The Woodville family are a throwback to some locust-like ancestor of humankind. There are a great many Woodvilles, and led by the Queen, whatever they want they take. The only evolutionary upgrades in their locust natures are in their attractive looks and their capacity for vengeance. The lazy King Edward, who hates trouble, must have a strong reason to put up with all the trouble his Queen causes him. It is a historical mystery why Edward allowed the Queen to behave as badly as she did. Maybe he knew she and the men of her family were as capable of killing him as they were of arranging the deaths of anyone else who got in their way. Or maybe, as author Sandra Worth has it, Edward felt guilty about his behavior toward her.

Richard is the opposite of Edward. He obeys Edward no matter how much he disagrees with him, sacrificing his personal comfort, love, and happiness without question whenever called. Worth’s most telling word to describe Richard is “innocent”. Richard believes in an ideal world, a world of justice, honor, and duty. He hero-worships Edward in their early days, and blames others for Edward’s later degeneration. The city of York is so well governed by Richard that after his death the City Fathers will risk heavy penalties to declare their loyalty to him.

I have never read another novelist who shows such a convincing feel for the real Richard as Sandra Worth does. She makes a point of not saying anything contrary to the historical record, of which she has an encyclopedic knowledge. CROWN OF DESTINY has less action and more politics than the first novel of this trilogy, LOVE AND WAR, my Favorite Romance Read of 2003. Even though I know what will happen in the final novel, FALL FROM GRACE, I look forward to it with sympathetic trepidation. All three are multiple award winners.

June 2006 Review

 

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