FALL FROM GRACE
The Rose of York
End Table Books,
Reviewed by Joy
Historical fiction, Fifteenth Century England
Richard III wants to establish a government of right and justice, but all he has to work with is the English nobility. Richard has been pitchforked by circumstances into accepting the crown, and since he must rule, he is determined on reform. His people will not be subject to the whims of nobles who do as they please, the way they were under his irresponsible brother Edward IV.
But Edward's legacy lingers on. His children are illegitimate, their mother and her relatives are hungry for the power they have lost. The branch of the family that Edward defeated when he took the throne have found a new representative, Henry Tudor. Richard's enemies do the only thing they can do against Richard's able generalship and his strong backing from the populace of the North – they band together.
Richard has friends and family who are very dear to him. Scenes of warmth and beauty show them as his support and his oasis. He also has followers, the Northerners who love their Duke because they have experienced the benefits of his rule. Determined to bring the same benefits to the rest of his subjects, Richard discovers that he has been forestalled by a master of the Big Lie.
The monarchy of England during this period has a great deal in common with the two-party system. A king's role is to be pulled down by his opponents. The Richard III of author Sandra Worth plays into this by wanting England to choose its own ruler. Such a contest is won by politicians, not generals, and Henry Tudor is a politician par excellence.
For Worth's Richard, relationships are personal, not political. His true friends are the boys he grew up with and the girl he loved from childhood. His enemies are personal, too. Richard knows love and right, evil and betrayal, on face-to-face terms and he will not compromise his vision. In his hopeless struggle he has become a man we love.
The legend of the Richard III Monster, the creation of Tudor's writers, is inconsistent with Richard's actions as a ruler. His laws, pushed through Parliament in the short time that he had to concentrate on them, reformed the English justice system to the point of revolution. They must have helped alienate the nobles who, soon after, tipped the scales against him. He did everything he could to end civil war. His excessive mercy to his enemies doomed him. England wasn't ready for Richard.
FALL FROM GRACE is the final book of The Rose of York trilogy. LOVE AND WAR establishes the foundation of Richard's character, and CROWN OF DESTINY shows the influences of public life that made Richard the king he would become. The trilogy has won a plethora of awards and deserves them, for its combination of humanity, inspiring writing, years of research, and convincing insight.
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