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A glorious novel of the controversial Richard III a monarch betrayed in life by his allies and betrayed in death by historyIn this beautifully rendered modern classic, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III vilified as the bitter, twisted, scheming hunchback who murdered his nephews, the princes in the Tower from his maligned place in history with a dazzling combination of research and storytelling Born into the treacherous courts of fifteenth century England, in the midst of what history has called The War of the Roses, Richard was raised in the shadow of his charismatic brother, King Edward IV Loyal to his friends and passionately in love with the one woman who was denied him, Richard emerges as a gifted man far sinned against than sinning This magnificent retelling of his life is filled with all of the sights and sounds of battle, the customs and lore of the fifteenth century, the rigors of court politics, and the passions and prejudices of royalty


10 thoughts on “The Sunne in Splendour

  1. Shannon Shannon says:

    This was Penman s first novel and still one of my favorites A little trivia she actually hand wrote a good deal of this novel, lost it and then started all over again That s commitment SUNNE traces the life of Richard III, breaking it into three sections of this 800 page novelPART ONEsheds light on that confusing Historical time known as the Wars of the Roses back in the day I never got it until I read this piece For those who never truly understood it, you will get a better grasp This was Penman s first novel and still one of my favorites A little trivia she actually hand wrote a good deal of this novel, lost it and then started all over again That s commitment SUNNE traces the life of Richard III, breaking it into three sections of this 800 page novelPART ONEsheds light on that confusing Historical time known as the Wars of the Roses back in the day I never got it until I read this piece For those who never truly understood it, you will get a better grasp from this flowery novel The Wars of the Roses was basically one of cousins who were all descended from an ancestor king Add a weak king to the pot and we have a civil war Anyway, during that period, we get to see a very young Richard and the many relatives he lost to the early Wars of the Roses Major players such as Richard s older brother, Ned i.e future Edward IV , are revealed as are the monk like, insane King Harry Henry VI , as well as his wife, Margerite Anjou and let us not forget Richard Neville, the Kingmaker, who at one point during his life, held two different English kings captive During this section, Ned eventually prevails for the Yorks and becomes King Edward IV Immediately, he has a clash of wills with his cousin, Richard Neville, and this sets up the scenario for PART TWO where Edward IV takes the throne and immediately unsettles everyone by marrying into the Woodville family, taking Elizabeth as his queen Unfortunately for everyone, the Queen has a poor personality compared to her ravishing beauty, which creates a number of conflicts Richard, who is heaped with honors, is not comfortable in court nor are the Neville Family, as well as many other allies Edward IV keeps them all from killing each other and also puts up withLancastrian attempts to seize the throne, as well as an eventual civil war with his Neville cousins, and his very antagonist brother, George, Duke of Clarence George also makes life hell for Richard s love interest, Ann Neville, but, in the end, Ann and Richard are married Continuing friction grows on all sides as Ann sees that Richard is overlooking the flaws of his brother, Edward IV PART THREEfollows us as Edward IV s reign spirals downward His ailing health and his methods to contain a very sensitive secret force him to not only slay mad King Harry but his brother, George, as well Of course, other reasons are used but that s another story In the end though, Edward IV s lifestyle catches up with him, leaving his kingdom in an upheaval Richard III is appointed as the protectorate of the realm until Edward s son comes of age, but, in truth, the queen and her people do not trust him Civil war is averted when Richard captures the heir to the throne but even then, things are going badly Richard loses his one blood son and his allies begin to turn on him Worse, view spoiler someone else murders the children in the tower i.e this is one of Penman s interesting points where she claims Richard III is not the villain portrayed by Shakespeare and blames Richard hide spoiler In the end, Richard loses his wife, feels he is cursed and takes a number of risky measures when a distant Lancastrian pretender to the throne i.e future Tudor dynasty challenges him on the battlefield Through betrayal and circumstances, Richard III is slain and the Plantaganet line dies out with him After re reading many of Penman s novels I have to say that this is still my favorite Unusual that a first book is written well enough to be comparable or better than later books but there you have it Penman s writing strengths are in her vivid descriptions, her real and varied characters, her build up of conflict and conclusions and, of course, let us not forget that her love stories are pretty good, too.Overall, this is sterling silver quality, so read it right away Fans of George Martin s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE should know a good chunk of this historical period influenced him greatly per some online interviews GRRM did STORY PLOTTING A minus to A CHARACTERS DIALOGUE A HISTORICAL ACCURACY A minus to A ACTION WAR SCENES A minus WHEN READ 2003 third reading revised review in March 2012 then later in early October 2012 OVERALL GRADE A minus to A view spoiler Penman s belief that Richard didn t marry the princes in the tower was an interesting one a la Buckingham People who travel to the UK should check out York where they have several pro Richard spots including a tourist site along an old wall.Very sympathetic characters even when they were the clear antagonists I found The Kingmaker to be an especially tragic figure and appreciated that Penman gave him a point of view before he died Anti Yorkists still claim that Richard and his brother had The Kingmaker and his brother slain purposefully but others say it was an accident in the heat of battle We may never know for sure but the battle continues hide spoiler


  2. Sean Barrs Sean Barrs says:

    Richard was utterly surrounded by Stanley soldiers, hemmed in on all sides He d lost his axe, was lashing out with his sword, gripping it with both hands and swinging in like a scythe asandmen fought with each other to get close enough to strike him, beating against his armour, with mace and halberd In a frenzy of fear and rage, White Surrey was going up again and Francis saw a pike thrust go into the animal s unprotected belly The stallion screamed in agony and crashed heavily toRichard was utterly surrounded by Stanley soldiers, hemmed in on all sides He d lost his axe, was lashing out with his sword, gripping it with both hands and swinging in like a scythe asandmen fought with each other to get close enough to strike him, beating against his armour, with mace and halberd In a frenzy of fear and rage, White Surrey was going up again and Francis saw a pike thrust go into the animal s unprotected belly The stallion screamed in agony and crashed heavily to earth, dragging Richard down, too Stanley s men closed inWriting historical fiction about a dynastic struggle, the Wars of the Roses, that s outcome is well known is a risky business I m sure that any reader who would pick up this mighty tome, that chronicles the life of Richard III, would know the ending that history dictates Indeed, the author hadwork to do because of this she had to take a well know ending and make it interesting, and effectively breathe new life into it A twelve hundred page novel is a rather large reading investment, nobody wants to get halfway through and abandon it, so this book had to be marvellous from the beginning it had to be splendid, and it was It really was The novel starts with a seven year old Richard and ends with his defeat at the field of Bosworth it is an entire chronicle of his life At the beginning a very young Richard has just received news that his father, Richard Duke of York, has been defeated in battle his head has been cut off and decorated with a paper crown by Margret of Anjou the wife of King Henry VI This is a low point for the house of York as Lancaster temporarily triumphs over its foe Edward, Earl of March, promptly picks up the torch dropped by his farther and carries on the struggle, except this time it s aboutthan just power he wants revenge This leads to another chapter in the wars of the roses Richard s soldering life, and later his kingship, is filled with dynastic battles that attempt to establish and reassert his house, York, as the rulers of England over the house of Lancaster From this early on Richard s fate is asserted he will naturally follow his eldest brother, Edward IV, to revenge upon the defeat of his father and the dishonour committed against his body Richard admires his brother he looks up to him and respects him.He is fiercely loyal to him unlike George, the middle York brother, who is jealous of Edward being the first son George, Duke of Clarence, is the favourite of his mother, and to make thing worse he loves Richard This leaves Richard in the middle of sibling rivalry This is asserted in just the first chapter and asserts the strained relationship between the brothers of York, and superbly foreshadows the eventual rivalries and betrayals that occur later on in the novel.The novelist is deeply loyal to the house of York she portrays Richard III as a noble king rather than Shakespeare s hunchbacked villain Certainly, Richard has been presented as a man of honour and adherent to the code of chivalry , but he is not without his flaws He is somewhat na ve and rash to make decisions, which the novelist translates to his political blunders made in his kingship, such as trusting the traitorous Duke of Buckingham and executing the loyal Will Hastings He is often referred to, by his mother, as the only son of York with a conscience Indeed, Penman s Richard would have been incapable of murdering his brother s sons, the princes in the tower, because he is just too good Whether he did or not is for the historians to argue about, but I love this novelist interpretation of him I too would like to think he did not kill his nephews and that the Duke of Buckingham was responsible As I said at the beginning of my review, the ending of this book is well known It is obvious that a novel chronicling his life must end at the field of Bosworth Consequently, the author had to create a Richard that was compelling enough to make the reader want to reach the ending of this massive volume And she did She really did Penman s envisioning of Richard is that of a tragic character who was honourable and just, but just made a series of bad political moves that, consequently, ended in betrayal and his own demise This resulted in a death that was dramtic and emotional


  3. Em Lost In Books Em Lost In Books says:

    this goes straight to favorites.


  4. Anna Anna says:

    I ve become hooked on Richard III We all know what he s accused of, but until recently, I ve never given much thought to his defence After reading various accounts of him and his contemporaries, I ve realised that history, based on Tudor propaganda, could have very badly betrayed him The Sunne In Splendour covers his entire life from the age of about 7 In a 900 page book, the first third read like an increasingly interesting history lesson, but then thepersonal story telling side kicke I ve become hooked on Richard III We all know what he s accused of, but until recently, I ve never given much thought to his defence After reading various accounts of him and his contemporaries, I ve realised that history, based on Tudor propaganda, could have very badly betrayed him The Sunne In Splendour covers his entire life from the age of about 7 In a 900 page book, the first third read like an increasingly interesting history lesson, but then thepersonal story telling side kicked in and it became engrossing The author has clearly done an amazing amount of detailed research into Richard s life Whilst I suspect she over romanticises him at times, she reasons well She portrays him as a loyal man, a trusted brother, a beloved husband and a skilled leader on the battlefield From what I ve read elsewhere, this seems a very believable view of him Her account of the missing princes mystery, the key point for his portrayal in history, is both logical and believable She brings Richard to life so vividly, and I was moved by his death, I mourned him I actually feel very riled that history may have got him horribly wrong This is the best historical fiction book I ve read to date a fascinating, detailed and thought provoking look at one of Englands most controversial men I am most definitely on his side


  5. B the BookAddict B the BookAddict says:

    The story evolves around Edward IV and Richard III and lots of other characters with a plot so rich, you could be forgiven in thinking that it is pure fiction Simply too involved to summarize here my reactions comment follow With a novel this lengthy, you really need a hearty liking of Tudor based stories I didn t realize that I had so enjoyed Richard III s story until the last 50 pages or so, when I found I had deliberately slowed my reading because I simply did not want to come to the en The story evolves around Edward IV and Richard III and lots of other characters with a plot so rich, you could be forgiven in thinking that it is pure fiction Simply too involved to summarize here my reactions comment follow With a novel this lengthy, you really need a hearty liking of Tudor based stories I didn t realize that I had so enjoyed Richard III s story until the last 50 pages or so, when I found I had deliberately slowed my reading because I simply did not want to come to the end Although tethered in 2014 and well aware of historical facts, I dreaded the final moments enacted at Bosworth Red Plains felt a sickening fear for Richard s fate I found I genuinely liked Richard whereas before I had harboured a vague distaste for this man rud to have stolen the crown Shakespeare, you should be ashamed of the spread of misinformation you have participated in Read Ms Penman s novel and learn of a fact based contrasting view of this much pilloried monarch What a triumphant debut I can scarcely believe this is Penman s first book It is a glorious novel, one that is not filled with the histrionics that are often found in other books of this genre A stunning achievement by Ms Penman Most Highly Recommended 5


  6. Gary Gary says:

    This is one of my top five favourite historical fiction novels of all time What makes Sharon Penman s historical novels set in medieval Britain so amazing is how they combine sticking quite close to historical facts, with making a thrilling read enjoyable to modern readers, together with an engaging cast of characters.This novel documents English Civil War and the life of Richard of Gloucester from the age of seven in 1459 until his death through treachery at The Battle of Bosworth in 1485.We ge This is one of my top five favourite historical fiction novels of all time What makes Sharon Penman s historical novels set in medieval Britain so amazing is how they combine sticking quite close to historical facts, with making a thrilling read enjoyable to modern readers, together with an engaging cast of characters.This novel documents English Civil War and the life of Richard of Gloucester from the age of seven in 1459 until his death through treachery at The Battle of Bosworth in 1485.We get to read about Richard and his brothers the reflective and scrupulous Edmund, the charming and impetuous Edward, and the reckless conniving George.After reading of the devastation rendered on England by the ruthless and malign Queen Marguerite de Anjou , consort to the pious and half mad weakling Henry VI, we experience the execution and desecration of Richard s father the Duke of York and his oldest son Edmund by Marguerite and the malicious Earl of Somerset Richard s mother Cecily is a deeply religious women with endless strength of character and forbearance she suffers many losses as we see through the novel.The feud between the cynical and vengeful master power broker Richard Neville , Earl of Warwick who aligns with his erstwhile archenemy Marguerite of Anjou and Edward of York after Edward weds the ambitious and magnificently beautiful Elizabeth Woodville, eventually leads to the death of Warwick and the total defeat of the forces of Lancaster at the Battle of Barnet.Edward s rule is a period of peace and security in England at the time, though his dissolute court and his many mistresses certainly suggest a man of decadence His Queen Elizabeth Woodville and her hated family irk both Richard and his treacherous bother George Duke of ClarenceGeorge earns Richard s hatred by his incarceration of Richard s great love of his life Anne Neville, daughter of Earl Warwick.We journey through Richard s rescue of Anne, and George s imprisonment and death because of his knowledge of claims of King Edward s earlier marriage which makes his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville illicit and his children bastards Elizabeth Woodville is ambitious and ruthless in the extreme, but one cal also see in her actions a determination to protect at all costs the welfare and fortunes of her children.There is a vast cast of character in this magnificent evocative novel Sharon Penman shows not only a brilliant grasp of the history of England at the time but also a absolutely penetrating perception of human natureIt is the way she threads this epic together with never a dull moment, full of adventure and romance, intrigue and heartbreak, while never departing from the known historical facts that makes this a masterpiece.The last part of the novel covers Richard s ill fated reign after Edward IV s death, his seizure of the crown which he sees as being for the good of England, and of course the fate of Edward IV s sons Edward V and Richard, the princes in the tower Richard aims to protect the boys and give them security and comfort in new lodgings but is thwarted by the treacherous Duke of Buckingham , Henry Stafford, who in this narrative is the man who during his rebellion against Richard has the boys murdered.The book also encapsulates one of my favourite women of English history, Edward s mistress and the merriest whore in court the good natured and sexually adventurous Jane Shore One thing I did not like seeing Richard do to her was her penance of being marched throgh London clad only in her kirtle and holding a taper, as a humiliating penance , But the support the people of London is heartwarming as is the happy ending to her story as she is rescued from Ludgate Prison by the King s Solicitor General, Thomas Lynom, who Richard reluctantly agrees to let wed her.Haunting and heartrending is Richard s great love for his Queen Anne, and the death of fist their son Prince Edward and then of consumption of Anne herself and the terrible torment suffered by Richard thereinRichard is presented as a thoughtful noble and valiant man , a man of chivalry and altruism , loved greatly in England s North He is anything but the deformed and evil murderous villain painted by Tudor propagandists and made famous by Shakespeare s play Richard III.The novel proceeds to the Battle of Bosworth which would have seen Richard defeat and kill the invader, the conniving and unscrupulous Henry Tudor if he were not betrayed by Lord Stanley.The novel comes to a close with Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville s daughter Princess Elizabeth of York Bess , who was Richard s must loved niece and a great admirer of his, being forced to marry Henry Tudor now Henry VII which she agrees to do for the peace of the realmAnd ends with Bess about o give birth to England s heir, discussing with her half sister Grace, how Richard s name will be sullied by Tudor s propaganda and wishing history would remember him as he really wasThe novel is epic and haunting and one in which you will read again and again It will be enjoyed by all afficionadoes of good literature, and not only history buffs like myself


  7. Aneca Aneca says:

    Sharon Kay Penman s biography of Richard III is one of my favorite books of all time I have hesitated in writing this review for quite a while because I m not sure I can do it justice.Born into an England ripped apart by the bloody War of the Roses, Richard was in awe of his older brother Edward He stayed loyal to his brother and loyal to Anne Neville, the daughter of the enemy It was this loyalty that was his strength, and finally his undoing There are many things to enjoy Her construction Sharon Kay Penman s biography of Richard III is one of my favorite books of all time I have hesitated in writing this review for quite a while because I m not sure I can do it justice.Born into an England ripped apart by the bloody War of the Roses, Richard was in awe of his older brother Edward He stayed loyal to his brother and loyal to Anne Neville, the daughter of the enemy It was this loyalty that was his strength, and finally his undoing There are many things to enjoy Her construction of the characters, how we slowly get to know them, their motivations and fears Her description of the political backgroung of that complicated period that was 15th century England And how she brings Richard III to life in a way that is totally convincing and very human.The book follows Richard from a young age when he is still in the shadow of his brother till the powerful Earl he becomes under Edward IV reign and finally his rise to throne and his death Her writing is full of historical detail, she gives us the historical background but also those little everyday happenings that make the story and the characters come alive.It is inevitable that what stands outwhen speaking of this book is her defense of Richard regarding the death of his nephews She makes a compelling and believable case presenting other suspects and exonerating Richard from the dark legend Shakespeare made known.Grade A


  8. Mansoor Mansoor says:

    When my friend described The Sunne in Splendour as a historical fiction about two English kings, I thought, Sounds like a real page turner But, it is a real page turner I ve never found English history so fascinating.This was my first experience with the genre of historical fiction Naively, I always assumed the writers chose between history and fiction But, this book was written by a well known English historian, and the fiction only supplements the history That s what makes it exciting When my friend described The Sunne in Splendour as a historical fiction about two English kings, I thought, Sounds like a real page turner But, it is a real page turner I ve never found English history so fascinating.This was my first experience with the genre of historical fiction Naively, I always assumed the writers chose between history and fiction But, this book was written by a well known English historian, and the fiction only supplements the history That s what makes it exciting to read if it s honest historical fiction written by a qualified historian, then the facts you read are real.The story is about England s War of the Roses It describes many important battles and politics, revolving mostly around the lives of King Edward IV and King Richard III Until I read this book, I didn t even know that there s a controversy about Richard III This book portrays him as a noble figure Shakespeare paints him as a hunchbacked villain with staggeringly evil plans, but people say Shakespeare was just serving as a Tudor propagandist I think it s great to be able to say that Da s just Tudor propaganda, is all dat is I would say that you should read this if you re interested in English history, but then no one would read it So, I ll say you should read it if you want a good story, and don t mind some English history with it


  9. Lori Lori says:

    A GR friend just started reading this I read it many, many years ago and added it in bulk when I first joined GR s without an adequate review It deserves so muchthan that When I m asked the question what is your favorite book , without a moments hesitation, this is the novel that springs off my lips The Sunne in Slpendour began my love affair with historical fiction and it is as close to a perfect novel as can be written It has action, adventure, and characters that I will never fo A GR friend just started reading this I read it many, many years ago and added it in bulk when I first joined GR s without an adequate review It deserves so muchthan that When I m asked the question what is your favorite book , without a moments hesitation, this is the novel that springs off my lips The Sunne in Slpendour began my love affair with historical fiction and it is as close to a perfect novel as can be written It has action, adventure, and characters that I will never forget If you have not had the pleasure of reading this, then you are really depriving yourself of one of the best literary journeys you can take I cannot give a novel a higher recommendation


  10. Misfit Misfit says:

    This was a wonderful story Although I was prepared to keep an open mind as to my previous opinions on Richard III from reading Alison Weir s Princes in the Tower , I was sure I would still come out believing that Richard did the kids Now I am not so convinced, I am prepared to believe he was a good man This book also covers much about Edward the IV, Richard s brother All in all a very good history lesson The book was well written, the story line kept me interested through all 900 pages a This was a wonderful story Although I was prepared to keep an open mind as to my previous opinions on Richard III from reading Alison Weir s Princes in the Tower , I was sure I would still come out believing that Richard did the kids Now I am not so convinced, I am prepared to believe he was a good man This book also covers much about Edward the IV, Richard s brother All in all a very good history lesson The book was well written, the story line kept me interested through all 900 pages and I will definitely readfrom this author I have already read the Welsh trilogy highly recommended