Sunday, 22 May 2011

Review of The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen is the second book in Philippa Gregory's trilogy 'The Cousin's War' based on the War of the Roses. In The White Queen Gregory brought the figure of Elizabeth Woodville to life and in the second book we learn about the life of Margaret Beaufort; mother of Henry Tudor and heir to the Lancastrian line often described as “ the most powerful line in Britain's history”.

Margaret Beaufort, a woman infamous throughout history for her pious and cold nature is brought to life as a cunning, scheming and unstoppable figure who will do and destroy anything to see her son on the throne of England. In the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville is a much more personable character – determined and scheming, but likeable. Whereas, Margaret Beaufort is portrayed as cunning and someone who will stop at nothing to pursue her own dreams – that of becoming Margaret R, something she believes she is destined to become through God's own will. I found that she was much harder to connect with, however, this was perhaps due to her harsh and unthinkable upbringing – married at twelve and a mother at thirteen years of age.

I really enjoyed reading this book and found that I couldn't really put it down. I read this straight after reading The White Queen and the two books do overlap in terms of time frame, but are great to read together as the reader can see two different perspectives of events at the time. I also enjoyed reading about the figures on the such whom I knew much less about – such as the Stanley's and the Stafford's.

My only reservations about The Red Queen were that the events of the Princes in the Tower were slightly skimmed over. However, overall I thought this was a brilliant novel, well researched and which brought to life an infamous character who has perhaps been eclipsed by her more famous son and grandson.

I absolutely cannot wait to read the next installment of The Cousins War! This is historical fiction at its best.


Sunday, 1 May 2011

Review of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series and it is a great start for debut author Julie Kagawa. I was instantly swept away by this book and found that I could not really put it down.

Meghan Chase, the protagonist of the novel, wakes up on her 16th birthday expecting a normal day, hoping that her mother will take her to get her drivers permit. However, before the day is out she finds herself transported to another world, the Faery Kingdom of Nevernever in a desperate search for her four year old brother who has been kidnapped by unknown (and un-human) forces.

I loved Meghan’s character and she really changes and becomes a stronger person by the end of the novel. I also adored the Grimalkin, the talking cat who helps Meghan in exchange for a favour.
Robbie/Puck and Ash were also interesting additions. I surprised myself by liking Ash by the end of the novel – he is the typical bad boy heartthrob!

The plot itself was fantastic and takes the reader on a non stop journey from small town America to the beauty of King Oberon’s Summer Court to the chilling, icy landscape of Queen Mab’s Tir Na Norg and onto the grey, terrifying land of King Machina and the Iron Fey. The plot itself is full of twists and turns as we follow Meghan, Ash, Puck and Grimalkin on their journey to rescue Ethan. The fantasy element and romantic side of the novel worked extremely well together.

Overall, I found that I couldn’t put this book down. I loved the main characters especially Meghan and Grimalkin. I did find the use of Shakespearian characters to be an unexpected addition, but it actually works very well. There is so much going on in this book that there was no opportunity at all to be bored, as I was always desperate to know what would happen next.
 I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!