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The Sunne in Splendour

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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The Sunne in Splendour

Postby Margaret » Mon August 25th, 2008, 11:37 pm

A favorite novel for many HF readers is Penman's novel about Richard III, The Sunne in Splendour. I've reviewed it at http://www.HistoricalNovels.info/Sunne-in-Splendour.html. It's a big novel, like other Penman novels, and it's about a lot more than just Richard, though he is the center of the novel. In the early part of the novel, Edward IV, Richard's elder brother, is an especially important and central character. Some have criticized this novel for its extremely sympathetic view of Richard. This didn't bother me while I was reading, but in retrospect Penman presented him as someone who almost could do no wrong, which is a bit unrealistic. Her portrayal of Edward IV is much more mixed and, in some ways, more interesting. What did other people think of this perspective on Richard III?
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Susan
Bibliomaniac
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby Susan » Mon August 25th, 2008, 11:54 pm

"Margaret" wrote:What did other people think of this perspective on Richard III?


I've read fiction and non-fiction about Richard III and I still undecided about him. I find it difficult to make a decision about him!
~Susan~
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Royal news updated daily, information and discussion about royalty past and present
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boswellbaxter
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Location: North Carolina
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Postby boswellbaxter » Tue August 26th, 2008, 12:04 am

This is still one of my favorite historical novels, but when I re-read parts of it, it's more for the portraits of the other characters than of that of Richard III, who I believe is a bit too good to be true here. I also prefer the considerably more rounded portrait of Edward IV--he's a character who can surprise the reader. I think Penman also did a good job with Margaret of Anjou.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Tue August 26th, 2008, 12:14 am

Personally, I don't think the historical record is complete enough for us to know what kind of person Richard was, though a lot of people have very passionately held opinions about him. The Vulpes Libris blog ran a "Richard III Week" last week, and posted some very interesting essays. They're still up as of today (8/25/08) at http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/.

Another novel that explores the Richard III story is Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, which I've reviewed at http://www.historicalnovels.info/Daughter_of_Time.html. It's set in modern times, but focuses on a Scotland Yard investigator's research into the question, "Did he or didn't he kill the Princes in the Tower?" He thinks Richard III is innocent - that's no spoiler, because he starts with that presumption - but comes up with a different culprit than Penman does.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Telynor
Bibliophile
Location: On the Banks of the Hudson

Postby Telynor » Wed August 27th, 2008, 3:45 am

The Sunne in Splendour is one of my favourites, hands down. I am very eager for October this year, when there are a -lot- of new HF hitting the stores, including The Devil's Brood.

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diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Wed August 27th, 2008, 10:48 am

I think there are a number of us around who are eagerly waiting for October - not long to go at all!

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Melisende
Reader
Location: Australia

Postby Melisende » Thu August 28th, 2008, 10:44 am

Unfortunately Richard will be forever tarred by the Tudor brush.
"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

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Carla
Compulsive Reader
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Postby Carla » Wed September 3rd, 2008, 3:59 pm

"boswellbaxter" wrote:This is still one of my favorite historical novels, but when I re-read parts of it, it's more for the portraits of the other characters than of that of Richard III, who I believe is a bit too good to be true here. I also prefer the considerably more rounded portrait of Edward IV--he's a character who can surprise the reader. I think Penman also did a good job with Margaret of Anjou.


I was rereading this the other day, and was struck again by what an interesting and complex character Edward IV is. Unlike Richard, who as you say is a bit on the saintly side, Edward is ruthless enough to order the murder of his cousin (Henry VI) and brother, and yet he is also attractive and charming. One of the things I like about Sharon Penman's novels is that the sides are rarely black and white. Even in something like The Reckoning, where I bet many readers are blinking back tears at the end, Edward I isn't an out-and-out villain.
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
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Lauryn
Reader
Location: Vancouver, CA

Postby Lauryn » Mon April 20th, 2009, 7:13 pm

I'm reading this book right now, and I see SKP's characterisation of Richard to be not so much saintly, and capable of doing no wrong, but to be flawed in other ways. He seems to not WANT to do wrong, but makes some truly large mistakes by virtue of impatience, intolerance, or a lack of perception, and even by his not-thick-enough skin. As the Duke of Gloucester, and the right hand of Edward IV, these traits are managed well enough, or aren't under a spotlight, but when he is the King, or King-presumptive, big brother isn't there to run interference between Richard and the other magnates.
Even the mighty oak was once just a nut that held its ground.

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zsigandr
Avid Reader
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby zsigandr » Thu May 7th, 2009, 4:39 pm

I would have to say that I agree with Lauryn and her analysis of SKPs portrayal of Richard III and with Melisende's statement about his character being tainted by Tudor influence.

I don't know that I believe that Richard murdered his nephews, but there really isn't any proof either way. It is interesting to think about who else had lots to gain from their deaths. With the death of the princes, Stafford thought he might have a chance - Henry Tudor was also closer to the throne and his mother was said to be ambitious for him.

I think that in SKPs book, he was always concerned with being everything to everyone. He had a lot of responsibility at a very young age, and being the 7th son, I think that he may have felt the need to prove himself. Edward was charismatic, handsome and well-liked. This would have been a difficult shadow to live under.

It appears that after the death of his son, then Anne, Richard becomes withdrawn and makes rash desicions, perhaps he no longer cared whether he lived or died. I don't find his behaviour saintly at this point. I think desperation ultimately drove him to his death with his failed attempt on Henry Tudor's life. These types of behaviours make him much more human in my eyes.


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