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In discussing Sir Thomas Malory's account of King Arthur's knights, Richard of Gloucester says to Anthony Woodville that his favorite part is when Arthur slays Mordred. While this initial comment might lead a reader to think that Richard is again displaying his brutal character, as he is depicted in history, it would be wise to hear his amplification of that comment, "Justice is done." Woodville responds, "But justice comes at high cost. To get at Mordred, the King must sacrifice himself." Richard replies, "You miss the point. The cost of treachery is what's high. Justice is all that's left."
This lengthy interchange is worthy of significant notice as it parallels the main characteristic of Richard III as portrayed by Sandra Worth in this second novel of The Rose of York series about the King so often maligned in the accepted historical record. Yes, Sandra Worth and other Ricardian scholars and writers have come to a different conclusion - King Richard III always acted from a just and thoughtful analysis of the political facts and opinions available at the time in question.
For it is the audacious and despicable behavior of the Woodvilles against King Edward IV, Richard of Gloucester's brother, and the rest of the Plantaganet clan that almost undoes England's respectable relationships with Europe and almost destroys England itself with civil and political war. Richard watches his brother evolve from an idealistic, strong ruler to a deluded, drunk, blind, and irresponsible weakling totally unaware that his few murderous acts were leading to a disastrous end. As could be expected under such conditions, former loyal advisors and servants become as decadent as their leader because of their own lust for ambition and power. What an education for a future king - and how brilliantly this author portrays the individual as well as the political climate under which this all occurs.
So it is no small wonder that Richard becomes a man totally focused on justice - after watching his brothers and so many more murdered for base and mistaken reasons. His faithful and perceptive wife, Anne, can only comfort him so much but does help him preserve his sanity in the midst of even more horrific events. Indeed, he eventually even learns that his own family harbors momentous secrets that will affect the future of England and which he will not learn about until a most critical moment after his brother, Edward's, death - one for which his brother George was condemned to death by Edward.
Sandra Worth knows how to write superb historical fiction! The reader comes to appreciate the depth of Richard's character in taut suspense through the spare yet plot-driven tale quickly emerging under Worth's deft, depictive skills. With meticulous research, this author proceeds to engage the reader in truly understanding where the term "blind justice" originated and what it truly means in the life of a respectable and memorable political leader of amazing stature!
Congratulations, Sandra Worth! You have done it again with realistic and creative skill - and so much more! I can't wait to read the final novel in this noteworthy series, The Rose of York:Fall From Grace.
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on September 4, 2006