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The Sunne In Splendour: A Novel of Richard III Paperback – January 22, 2008
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“A painstakingly drawn picture of royal medieval England from bedchamber to battleground.” ―Los Angeles Times Book Review
“The reader is left with the haunting sensation that perhaps the good a man does can live after him---especially in the hands of a dedicated historian.” ―The San Diego Union
“Those who know Richard III from Shakespeare will find that Sharon Kay Penman presents a contrasting view of the English monarch . . . He's an altogether nice man, a romantic hero as suitable to our late twentieth-century standards . . . as he was to those of medieval England . . . There is a vengeful quality to her insistence that is appealing; it makes for a good story.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Ms. Penman's novel, rich in detail and research, attempts to set the record straight . . . it is an uncommonly fine novel, one that brings a far-off time to brilliant life.” ―Chattanooga Daily Times
From the Publisher
It is in these Staff Recommend sections that I kept on seeing our Penman's titles, HERE BE DRAGONS, FALLS THE SHADOW, THE RECKONING and also SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR and WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT.
It's funny, you can sell something for years before you notice that the author has been quietly making a powerful impact on people everywhere.
I started with HERE BE DRAGONS and I have never looked back. Her trilogy of the decline of the Welsh kings ( DRAGON, FALLS THE SHADOW and THE RECKONING)is a holiday gift I give year after year, and I'm happy to say they have always been embraced and loved. From my 15 year old niece to my 70 year old mother and many ages in between, all readers are enchanted and transported to a land and an age gone forever. But Penman makes them live forever in our minds and hearts with fantastic, unforgettable characters and wonderful history. HERE BE DRAGONS is such a great title--medieval mapmakes would write those words across any part of the map that was unknown.. a wonderful metaphor for how little the Welsh and English knew of each other.
SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR--Warning: This is not Shakespeare's Richard III. In this novel, Richard is a victim of circumstance and man vilified by the Tudors, but here presented as a decent and normal man, a man of conscience.
AND he is not a murderer. Yes, those princes did die, but not by Richard's hand.
WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT
Another wonderful title, for it refers to the 15 years of England's darkest time-the civil war between the cousins Queen Maud and King Steven. England was deserted, for Christ and his saints were sleeping. I had never even heard of these royals. Queen Maud was the legitimate heir to the throne, but a woman, and there fore not fit to rule. She is also the mother of Henry, who later married Eleanor of Aquitaine . Pretty heady stuff, more incredible men and women, another book to get totally lost in.
Although it has been years since all these books were first published, I can name 5 stores I have been in in the past 3 months that have one of these titles in the Staff Recommends section.
-Alice Kesterson, Ballantine Regional Sales Manger --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I have no problem with Penman's romantic feelings about her heros. From Eleanor in the 1st trilogy to Joanna in Here Be Dragons to her raising the standard of Simon de Montfort as a visionary (but historically too early) icon of democracy, she does use them as a vehicle to carry forward a dynamic presentation of history....all in the best traditions of the historical novel.
Penman's true genius is the broad historical scope that is painted on top of the shimmering details of brief moments. It truely does feel as if you are living the story yourself, and it is this bringing us readers in as witnesses that stands as Penman's contribution to the art of the historical
If you prefer to read in chronological order:
1101-1154 When Christ And His Saints Slept (Vol 1 of Trilogy)
1156-1171 Time And Space (Vol 2 of Trilogy)
12th Cent Devil's Brood (Vol 3 of Trilogy)- not yet released
1192-1193 The Queen's Man
1193 Cruel As The Grave
1183-1232 Here Be Dragons (Vol 1 of Welsh Trilogy)
1231-1267 Falls The Shadow (Vol 2 of Welsh Trilogy)
1271-1283 The Reckoning (Vol 3 of Welsh Trilogy)
1459-1492 The Sunne In Splendour
Penman has done a fantastic job of turning dry historical fact into fascinating and believable historical fiction. People's motives are not simple and easily understandable in real life, and the sometimes-conflicting drives and needs and desires of the cast of thousands in this book live up to that fact.
While undeniable sympathetic to King Richard the Third, it is not a cloying, simplistic, Good King Richard whitewash. Instead, it portrays the much-maligned king as an adoring younger brother left adrift when his idol dies and proves to have been less than perfect.
Supporting characters are equally complex, from the self-destructive King Edward to the self-absorbed Kingmaker, Warwick, from the unlikely queen Elizabeth Woodville to the helpless pawn, Elizabeth of York, from the insane King Henry VI to the ambitious King Henry VII. Possibly the only black villain in the piece is the Duke of Buckingham; everyone else is painted in shades of grey that make them honest people, rather than props.
If you can't stand historical novels because they are boring, read this. ...It's better than the tabloids!
One reviewer described this book as daring. I agree. Unlike Shakespeare, and the histories written by Tudor sycophants, Penman (through historic fiction) portrays Richard sympathetically, and heroically. She represents his claim to the throne as legitimate and creates a plausible alternative to disappearance of the princes in the tower, one in which Richard is quite innocent.
This is a story full of power struggles, warfare, greed, and avarice. It is a story full of malice, politics betrayal, murder, and yes love.
Is should be hard to care about people who lived in the 15th century, but it is not. Sharon Kay Penman brings all of the characters and their many faces to life. She tells the story to the 30+ years of warfare. We all know that history is written by the victorious. Five centuries after the events, Penman brilliantly gives Richard III a voice.
I highly recommend this book.
It is one of the very few books (and I've read a lot!) where I was so completely engrossed in the character's lives that I did tons of research afterwards. It is also the only book that has ever made me weep. I keep going back to the last two pages of that fateful chapter in which Richard was killed and it wrenches my heart every time - that mere words on a page could affect me this much simply astounds me and thrills me at the same time.
I knew absolutely nothing about Richard before I read it, and it was Sharon's notes in the back of the book describing her research and her personal thoughts that convinced me of Richard's innocence...not that anyone will ever truly know, but her writing makes the whole situation so incredibly plausible I just can't see it any other way. Whereas I don't imagine that Richard was a veritable saint, I do see him as having been fully human and therefore capable of mistakes, as well as inherently good-natured and honorable, loyal and fiercely loving to those who stood with him, and completely and horribly maligned by those in history who stood to benefit from his fall from grace.
It also inspired in me a ravenous interest in medieval history, and I hope to make the trip across the pond one day to do nothing but visit every single location I can that still exists from the book, including those from Sharon's other books.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As with all of her books, regardless of how well you may know what happened, you can't help but be engrossed.Published 20 days ago by Lisa
Loved this...have read all of Sharon Kay Penmans novels of the Plantagents family history. Wonderful how she makes them come alive.Published 25 days ago by Patricia A Akers
I'll admit it-- I've got a little crush on Richard III. I found this book to be one of the best historical fiction novels about Richard III that I have ever read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jessica
I feel it was too long to read, too many pages, I do not agree with her because she is trying to reconsider the Shakespeare story of a mad, murderous king. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alejandra Gonzalez
My absolute favorite "modern classic". Beautifully written. Tells the side of a story not often told, and gives credit to the fact that most humans are not purely evil or... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Stephanie
Well-written novel with close attention to historical accuracy.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent from start to finish! This is one of the best of Penmanship's works! You will not want the book to end...Published 3 months ago by jennifer m bryan