Just finished reading Edith Pargeter's A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury
, and highly recommend it (see review
). There are really four main characters: Prince Hal (the future Henry V), Henry "Hotspur" Percy, Henry IV, and a fictional Welsh woman. They're all beautifully drawn characters, each very different, and all but Henry IV have deeply admirable qualities - something that seems a bit out of style in fiction lately, and I miss it - but who come into conflict nonetheless. Henry IV is not so admirable, but he's a sympathetic character even so.
The opening chapter put me off, and I set the book aside for a couple of weeks, but picked it up again, and I'm very glad I did. By chapter 2, I was absorbed, and the novel never lost steam for me again. Pargeter spends several paragraphs on each of several major characters at the very beginning, doing descriptive character sketches, which kept the story from getting off the ground as quickly as it might have. I like Pargeter's introductory character sketches (there's an absolutely brilliant one of Ralf d'Isambard in The Heaven Tree
), but to have so many piled on top of each other at once was a little too much for me. If it's a flaw, though, it's one of very few in the novel.