Friday, August 05, 2016
Book review: Accession
I love a bit of history. One of the coolest things about living in a place like London, in a country like the UK, is the sheer amount of history that surrounds us everyday. Anytime I go for a walk, or out for lunch, or into town, I'm always amazed at the glimpses of history you can see all around you.
One of my favourite parts of history to read up on in recent years has been the late Platagenet, early Tudor period. At school we covered a lot on Romans, Victorians, and twentieth century history, but as I finished studying history at fourteen (bar an elective on American twentieth century history at university), as a grown up I realised there were swathes of history I didn't know enough about. When I then got handed a history class at my last school which covered the reigns of Henry II, Richard I and John...I had to catch up fast! As I did I promptly fell in love with the era and the time which came after it, as well as and the many vibrant stories and characters within it - Thomas á Becket, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Margaret of Anjou...
Imagine my delight, then, when I found Livi Michael's trilogy of books covering the war of the Roses, that long and bloody conflict that ended the Platagenet kings and led to the Tudor ascendancy. I had enjoyed Succession and Rebellion, so was looking forward to the third and final installment of the series, Accession.
A quick note on trilogies. Does anyone else get really nervous when they reach the final book in a series? I always get a little sense of dread, a worry that it won't live up to the rest of the books. I've been known to avoid the last book in a series at times, simply because of the fear! Nevertheless I got over my trepidation and tucked into the book.
Clocking in at a little over 400 pages, Accession is a great conclusion to the trilogy, with Michael weaving the story beautifully through the many ups and downs of the latter part of the War of the Roses. Taking elements from the chronicles of the age, she takes the reader on a journey from the murky depths of conflict to the crowning of a new sovereign. The characters are well drawn and compelling, and you are drawn in to the intrigues and machinations of the many parties involved from the get-go.
I found the very start of the book a little tricky to keep pace with, purely because of the wealth of characters involved (so many Margarets, you guys), but with the help of the detailed family tree at the start and some great writing and exposition from Michael, I soon found myself swept up in the story within a few chapters. And the final one hundred and fifty pages flew by as like a train hammering along a track the narrative reached its nation-changing conclusion. I may have had to delay dinner that night...
If you're a fan of history, politics, or just great, compelling fiction, I'd thoroughly recommend Accession - a wonderful book about a challenging and epoch defining set of events in British history. A fitting conclusion to a great trilogy; I'm excited to see which era Livi Michael tackles next.