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The Kingmaker's Daughter (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels) Hardcover – August 14, 2012
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"By Gaslight" by Steven Price
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“The Kingmaker’s Daughter is Gregory in fine form. . . . The Cousins' War . . . provides a rich setting for drama with its endless plots and conniving courtiers.” (Associated Press)
“Gregory ... always delivers the goods. Her latest novel wraps up her ‘cousins' war’ series of royal witches, philanderers and kingslayers with the story of King Richard III's wife, Anne Neville, who went from the marital bed of one royal prince to that of another king-to-be during this long family feud.” (New York Post)
“From the queen of royal fiction comes a gripping 15th-century tale of the daughters of the man known as the ‘Kingmaker.'" (San Antonio Express-News)
"Gorgeous fun." (New York Daily News)
“Conspiracy and a fight to the death for love and power.” (Los Angeles Times)
“Gregory is one of historical fiction’s superstars, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter shows why. . . . providing intelligent escape, a trip through time to a dangerous past.” (Historical Novels Review (Editor's Choice Review))
“The bonds of sisterhood infuse Gregory’s latest. . . . The stakes are high as Anne and Isabel Neville, daughters of the earl of Warwick (‘The Kingmaker’), vie for their father’s favor and a chance at the throne. . . . . In addition to Gregory handling a complicated history, she convincingly details women’s lives in the 1400s and the competitive love between sisters.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Gregory delivers another vivid and satisfying novel of court intrigue, revenge, and superstition. Gregory’s many fans as well as readers who enjoy lush, evocative writing, vividly drawn characters, and fascinating history told from a woman’s point of view will love her latest work.” (Library Journal)
“It’s every man and woman for themselves in Gregory’s latest, which offers reliable royal entertainment." (Booklist)
“Gregory creates suspense by raising intriguing questions about whether her characters will transcend their historical reputations.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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It may seem simple on the surface, but there is much more to Anne's story. After Edward's highly unpopular marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the subject of The White Queen, Anne's father felt betrayed and in order to secure his own connections to the throne, he marries Anne's older sister Isabel to Edward' brother George. When a series of failed revolts forces the Nevilles out of England, Anne is married to the exiled Edward of Lancaster in one last desperate attempt to put a Neville on the throne. But when the last Lancaster push for the throne fails, Anne is left adrift with an uncertain future.
Dare I say that Kingmaker's Daughter is one of the best books in the Cousins' War so far? While I enjoyed the others, especially The White Queen, Kingmaker's Daughter followed an incredibly fascinating young woman and her struggle as a political pawn during one of the most turbulent periods in British history. Through Anne starts off as a somewhat meek and weak young woman, she draws strength from her life experiences and grows into a stronger, more intelligent and motivated woman. On virtually every page, I fell more in love with Anne, cheering for her and wanting her to succeed and find happiness in a world that views her as little more than an annoying pawn.
Kingmaker's Daughter is considered Gregory's first "sister" story since Other Boleyn girl. Though the entire novel takes place through the eyes of Anne, there is ample time given to the complex relationship that Anne and her sister Isabel share (and, admittedly, I enjoyed Isabel more than Anne at first). Through all of the drama, the political ambition that seems to have rubbed off on the girls from their father, the greed and their relationship with their mother, Isabel and Anne are still sisters caught up in war and politics in a world where women do not have the power that men do.
I was honestly a tad bit disappointed with how Gregory handled the "sisters" aspect of the novel. Though Isabel and Anne's rivals and dramas were given some page time, the majority of the novel focused on the many other issues of the war and the sisters' relationship, I felt, wasn't given as much time as I would have liked. Also, for a while it seemed liked the working title for this book was "The Kingmaker's Daughters," which implied that it was about Anne AND Isabel. Though Anne's story may be more interesting, I would have liked to have seem some narration by Isabel to help the reader get a peek into her life and get her side of the story.
Aside from the that, the only other small thing that bothered me was the repetition. Since Gregory has already written three novels about this period, it can be a little difficult to discuss fully new events in each book. Though Kingmaker focused on different characters and angles, it still covered the same period and the same conflicts, so at times I felt like I was reading too much of the same things that happened in the previous books.
Yet, despite these few stumbling blocks, Gregory still delivers an incredibly exquisite, well-constructed world of high historical detail and compelling characters. Kingmaker's Daughter is one of the standout novels of the Cousins' War, with a lot of action, politics and great character conflict that's exactly what Gregory fans have come to crave.
In Kingmaker's Daughter, Gregory's writing seems almost like a parody of itself. The simple, slightly ominous and foreboding style that served her so well before became heavy-handed. In one sentence, she describes Edward IV as "glorious" twice, and this is only one example of her constant repition of overblown adjectives and phrases. Despite all these adjectives, I felt the writing did not serve to set an atmosphere or setting for the novel. It was clunky and amateurish, and since I know Philippa can do better from her other novels, I can't help but feel that the writing in Kingmaker's Daughter is simply the product of laziness, either on Philippa's part or her editor's. In general, the caliber of writing seems to decrease with each of her releases, specifically the books in the Cousin's War series.
For me, the second half of the book was what made it a worthwhile read. Despite the writing even, the second half was suspensful and exciting,even for someone who knows the history and can therefore be considered "spoiled" as to the events in the novel. As I mentioned before, Philippa's take on George of Clarence, Richard III, and what happened between Warwick's death and Richard III's kingship, was refreshing and unexpected. I wish this had been so throughout the novel, for the first half seems to be an entirely different novel than the second! George of Clarence from the first half is a totally different character from the second half. Isabel's characterization was also confusing and the proposed motives for her behavoir lacked the ring of believability. I also don't think that Warwick, for being such an important figure, was given enough space on the page.
All things considered, it wasn't a bad novel. I liked it infinitely better than The Red Queen. I finished it in a day, and it held my attention, but I think there was a greater potential here that failed to be met. 3/5
How utterly disappointing. I'm not saying Plaidy's book was great, but this read like someone had just cleaned up her prose.