Henry Plantagenet by Richard Barber (bought)
Henry II is the most imposing figure among the medieval kings of England. His fiefs and domains extended from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and his court was frequented by the greatest thinkers and men of letters of his time, besides ambassadors from all over Europe. This readable and accessible biography offers both a study of his character, and an estimate of his work as a ruler, work which is in a sense the history of his life, since it occupied his entire energies from his accession at the age of twenty-one to his death thirty-five years later. Nor is this the mere routine of government; from the desolate and lawless anarchy of Stephen’s reign, and against the opposition of the great magnates and the Church, he built in England a stable and prosperous realm, and welded his diverse inheritance overseas into a single, and by the standards of the time, peaceful, unit. Only the folly of John dispersed his empire, and his work in England left an enduring mark on the institutions by which we are governed today.
A Brief History of Henry VIII: Refomer and Tyrant by Derek Wilson (bookmooch)
King Henry VIII remains one of the most controversial figures in our history. Wilson draws together all the most recent discoveries and looks afresh at the fascinating life and times of the Tudor monarch, particularly, looking at the King’s childhood which is too often dismissed, and the influences of his father and grandfather. Interwoven with an insightful account of how England became a Protestant nation and Henry VIII’s life within the court and, of course, all his wives, this Brief History will bring this enigmatic monarch and the dramatic changes that occurred in Britain during his reign to life.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography by William Shawcross (bookmooch)
Written with complete access to the Queen Mother’s personal letters and diaries, William Shawcross’s riveting biography is the truly definitive account of this remarkable woman, whose life spanned the twentieth century. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore, was born on 4 August 1900. Drawing on her private correspondence and other unpublished material from the Royal Archives, William Shawcross vividly reveals the witty girl who endeared herself to soldiers convalescing at Glamis in the First World War; the assured young Duchess of York; the Queen, at last feeling able to look the East End in the face at the height of the Blitz; the Queen Mother, representing the nation at home and abroad throughout her long widowhood. ‘This splendid biograpy captures something of the warm glow that she brought to every event and encounter. It also reveals a deeper and more interesting character, forged by good sense, love of country, duty, humour and an instinct for what is right.
Tudors by Peter Ackroyd (purchased)
Rich in detail and atmosphere and told in vivid prose, Tudors recounts the transformation of England from a settled Catholic country to a Protestant superpower. It is the story of Henry VIII’s cataclysmic break with Rome, and his relentless pursuit of both the perfect wife and the perfect heir; of how the brief reign of the teenage king, Edward VI, gave way to the violent reimposition of Catholicism and the stench of bonfires under ‘Bloody Mary’. It tells, too, of the long reign of Elizabeth I, which, though marked by civil strife, plots against the queen and even an invasion force, finally brought stability.
Above all, however, it is the story of the English Reformation and the making of the Anglican Church. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, England was still largely feudal and looked to Rome for direction; at its end, it was a country where good governance was the duty of the state, not the church, and where men and women began to look to themselves for answers rather than to those who ruled them.
Saxon: The Book of Dreams by Tim Severin (purchased)
Frankia 780 AD
Sigwulf, a minor Saxon prince, is saved from execution after his family is slaughtered by the ruthless King Offa of Mercia. Thanks to his Devil’s Mark – his eyes of different colours – Sigwulf is exiled to the Frankish court of King Carolus, the future Charlemagne.
He gains the friendship of Count Hroudland, Carolus’s powerful and ambitious nephew – but, mysteriously, several attempts are made on Sigwulf’s life. When he obtains a Book of Dreams, a rare text giving understanding to the meaning of dreams, he attracts the attention of Carolus himself. But the Book proves to be a slippery guide in a world of double dealing. Sent into Spain to spy on the Saracens, Sigwulf becomes caught between loyalties; either he honours his debt to new Saracen friends, or he serves his patron Count Hroudland in his quest for glory, gold and even the Grail itself…
One after another Sigwulf’s predictions come true, but often not as expected, and he finds himself swept forward into a final great battle that reveals who his enemies are..
Malice by John Gwynne (purchased)
The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle. An uneasy peace reigns, but now giants stir once more, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of gigantic worms. Those who can still read the signs see a prophecy realised: sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield.
Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors and yearns to join them, determined that he will make his family proud. It is only when everything he knows is threatened that he discovers the true cost of becoming a man.
As the Kings look to their borders, and priests beg answers from the Gods, only a chosen few know that the fate of the world will be decided between two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. And with their coming will be a war to end all wars.
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (purchased)
ONE GIRL AND A GRIFFIN AGAINST AN EMPIRE: A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on collapse. Land and sky have been poisoned by clockwork industrialisation, the Lotus Guild oppresses the populace and the nation’s Shogun is lost to his thirst for power.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
Yukiko and her warrior father are forced to hunt down a griffin at the Shogun’s command. But any fool knows griffins are extinct – and death will be the price of failure.
A HIDDEN GIFT
Disaster strikes and Yukiko is stranded in the wilderness with a fabled griffin, now furious and crippled. Although she hears his thoughts and saved his life, Yukiko knows he’d rather see her dead than help her. And discovery of the talent allowing them to communicate would mean her execution. Yet together, the pair will form an indomitable bond, and rise to challenge an empire.