Mr. Riches’ tale of Richard, Earl of Warwick, also known as the “kingmaker”, tells the tale of the enigmatic man’s life from the age of 15 until his death at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. Few books deal with these well-described events from Warwick’s point of view, probably due to his frequent shifts of allegiance, his unswerving quest to further his own interests, and several unpopular executions that were carried out on his orders. Mr. Riches follows Warwick from the early days when he followed his father’s lead to support the House of York to his time as Admiral of England and Captain of Calais. Here, Warwick became a savvy military strategist, brave, cunning, and ruthless, a man who loves his family, but one who never questions what needs to be done.
Riches provides incredible detail into Warwick’ life, including the relationship between Richard and his brothers John and George, each of whom vacillated between loyalty to to Richard and loyalty to their sworn king Edward IV. We also get a glimpse into Warwick’s private life and his relationship with his parents and the illegitimate daughter who, Riches suggests, was the ancestress of Fletcher Christian of the Bounty.
This story is rich in detail, conflict, and history. The relationships described here give us a better idea of the man Warwick was than most stories provide. This story is told with a more masculine audience in mind, action over emotions. But as a female reader, I am most interested in: what drove Warwick to slander his own aunt by suggesting Edward IV’s illegitimacy? Was it only revenge that drove him to kill Earl Rivers and his son? Why did he risk his daughter Isabel’s life, crossing the channel with the king’s men in pursuit? Was it simple pride on Warwick’s part? Desperation? Greed? Revenge? These are what has made him one of history’s most infamous villains. That’s what I think readers like myself are most anxious to see – to jump into Warwick’s head and get the complex motivations behind those very questions. Here, Warwick is portrayed as an intelligent, feeling man, so a glimpse into what made him tick would have made this all the more powerful.
I think this is a strong fictionalized biography of one man’s life, with an emphasis on his military exploits, but a peek into some of his inner most thoughts, struggles, and the reasoning behind his actions would have made it even stronger, at least from a female reader’s perspective.
I received a complimentary copy from Mr. Riches in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon link for the book is here.