The Sunne In Splendour MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   I stood on the lofty battlements of Warwick Castle (boasted to be England'sgreatest) and gazed at the courtyard, bustling with re-enactors. History hungheavy in the air within these vast, stone halls where the futures of kings wereonce decided. As I drifted through the displays on Richard III and the kingmaker,I thought of The Sunne in Splendour, Sharon Kay Penman's brilliant historicalnovel relating the turbulent events of the 33-year War of the Roses in 15thCentury England.

Penman skillfully redeems Richard III, unjustly vilifiedby Shakespeare's play and Tudor historians. So history is often written by thevictor, but through exhaustive research she has managed to uncover a moreaccurate truth. In contrast to the play's overly dramatized, evil hunchback, thisbook paints the portrait of a handsome, unassuming man whose life is governed bya strict, inner conscience. His few inadequacies and frailties lend himbelievability and a touching humanity.

Although the novel remains true toactual events, it is not like reading a textbook. Penman masterfully brings thecharacters to life, using only one major fictional person. There is somethingfascinating about how she places you in the Middle Ages by subtly weaving manyconvincing details of medieval life and scenery into the action. It is alsorefreshing to see the influences that women had over the course of events in thismale-dominated period. The battle scenes are craftily presented to give a view ofthe terrible chaos and its direct effects upon the main figures; but the gore isoffset by a deep exploration of the relationships between friends and lovers tornapart by a devastating civil war.

Finally, the author has given us anexciting adventure concerning kings and knights that is neither fanciful norfrivolous. I believed every word she wrote. Perhaps that is why this had such aprofound effect upon me. As I stood in the great dining hall of Warwick Castle, Icould feel the spirits of Richard III and his uncle the kingmaker, raised fromthe grave by the accomplished hand of Sharon Kay Penman.

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