Edith Pargeter takes us back to the very early 15th century, to a conflict between Sir Henry Percy, “Hotspur”, and Henry IV, the king of England, who has only recently usurped the throne from Richard II with the support of the Percy family. The story follows each man and his relationship with various people as well as their deteriorating relationship with each other as it continually worsens with time.
This book was, honestly, a bit challenging to read. Its prose was, in fact, dated, and although I think that added to the overall feel of the book in a positive way, it made it go very slowly. As a result, a book less than 400 pages took me 4 days to read, which is unusual. In addition, the story doesn’t really sweep the reader away. It is interesting and feels medieval, but it’s not fascinating and is pretty easy to put down. The characters remain detached from the reader as well as detached from each other. I felt the most sympathy for Prince Henry, the future Henry V, as we see the formation of his identity since he is fairly young as well as his conflict between his father and close friend. Otherwise, the two main characters somehow remain distant even though we are given the opportunity to get into their heads. This is somewhat rare for me with a work of medieval historical fiction since I’m getting fairly practiced as placing myself into the medieval mindset (or as close as a modern person can get).
I did enjoy it while I was reading it and I found her perspective interesting, but it certainly isn’t one of my favorites, and I’ll probably wait a while before picking up another of her works.