Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Stormbird" - a review...

So, the mighty 'machine bleu' rolls on [clicky] but I'll admit to not seeing the game as I was working on the boat. I did, however, see an almost machine-like Ireland beat a slightly pedestrian, Wales, and of course England pulled their socks up and gave the Scots a hard time.

Much as I would have liked it the other way round, Scotland have a big problem this year - the wooden spoon that was always Italy's by right seems destined to go their way, as Italy are improved out of all recognition over the last two or three years...

Anyway - I have just finished the latest Iggulden offering (he of the Julius Caesar, and Genghis Khan, series). This book marks the start of a new series based on the War of the Roses a period of British military history which has always fascinated me since I was a youngster and first read "Sun of York" by Ronald Welch..  full plate armour, pole axes, treachery, intermarriage, politics, back stabbing, Warwick the Kingmaker, Plantagents, what's not to like??

In summary then, I was expecting much based on those previous books... but did it deliver? Read on to find out...

Iggulden takes as his starting point the marriage of Margaret of Anjou [clicky] to Henry VI. This was an arranged marriage, and the English hoped it would bring about long truce in the never ending war with France known as the Hundred Years War. In order to bring about the truce though, the English had to offer a significant dowry - they were to hand back the English provinces of Anjou and Maine to the French, an event that I'd never heard of before.

The main problem was that these provinces had been in English hands for many years, and were populated by many English families - in a single stroke they were left landless and forced to leave - Iggulden marks this as the start of the civil unrest that ultimately lead to the Wars of the Roses.

The forced, and opposed, clearance of Anjou and Main (which in turn caused the enraged French to abandon the truce and deploy their full field army and also take Normandy), the arrival of the refugees in England, resulted in the Jack Cade [clicky] uprising and London being almost taken.

With a background of the increasing (mental) infirmity of Henry VI, the increasing confidence in power of Margaret, the opposition of the Neville's lead by Richard Duke of York, this is the basis of this story...

So how did it do in the delivery stakes...?? A qualified thumbs up....

I found the book good overall, but I can't say I enjoyed it as much as his other books..  there are a number of books about at the moment covering the wars with France in the 16th Century, not the least being  "Master of War" [clicky] which I'd just finished, and in my view they are significantly more colourful, and inclusive, than this one....  the period, although tumultuous, is not fantasticaly interesting and the characters seemed a big...  exaggerated....  to me. Having said that, I'll get the next volume (of course), and hope for a return of my two favourite characters Derry Brewer (the Kings spy master) and Thomas Woodchurch (an English archer recently of Anjou).

Steve the Wargamer rates this one 6 out of 10...


  1. I had mixed feelings over the book. The author is clearly a Lancastrian sympathiser with the House of York portrayed in a very poor light without giving many clues as to why other than Brewers plotting. We're either starting the story of the Cousins War too early (given his views on York it might have been better to start at the end of this book) or too late and the author should have taken John of Gaunt as his first main lead rather than Brewer.
    Cades rebellion never seemed to deliver the fear that it caused at the time and you knew it was all going to go the way it did from the outset.
    Woodchurch is a character that seems out f place at the moment and I was a little lost as to his inclusion for this story.
    I'll buy the next one but he has a long way to go to beat "The Sunne in Splendour" by Sharon Penman.

    1. Ah yes! I had a pink slip to get away for a weekend (I think I was visiting Roundway Down) and I spent one of the nights in Salisbury at the Hopback pub, and I had the "Sunne in Splendour" as company - superb book! Totally agree... if you get the chance by the way her latest book is on the Lionheart - also recommended though she does wrote BIG books...

  2. Sounds good, I'll probably give it a go!

  3. Missed France Italy as well but Scotland are in deep deep doo doo. Italy can take 'em - their pack is better and both sides backs are about the same. France Ireland may be the crunch game.
    As for Cade- he was right about lawyers....