Friday, April 30, 2010

Within the Hollow Crown


Within the Hollow Crown. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1948/2010. SourceBooks. 368 pages.

Young Richard Plantagenet knelt by a richly blazoned tomb in Canterbury Cathedral while priests and monks chanted prayers for the repose of his father's soul.

I didn't love this one. Margaret Campbell Barnes is an author whose works I generally enjoy. I've read and reviewed My Lady of Cleves, King's Fool, and A Tudor Rose. All three were set in a time period that fascinates me--two set during the reign of Henry VIII, and the other was about Henry VIII's parents. So perhaps that makes a difference.

This novel is about the reign of Richard II. I knew nothing of this time period going into this one, and I don't feel this novel is the best introduction to the times. What did I learn about this one? It's hard to be king. Sounds simple and obvious, right? Of course it's hard to be king. Hard to balance what you want with what your country wants with what all the noblemen want. Richard didn't necessarily have the love and support of any of those. His own family, his own friends, his own countrymen plotting against him. But this book isn't just about how much of a struggle it is to be born royal--it's also about how it isn't always easy to be a good king and a good husband. (Though I must say I think he did much better than Henry VIII!)

I think it is possible to enjoy this one if you allow yourself the freedom not to worry about names and dates. Knowing nothing about this time, I didn't really get a feel for who was important and who wasn't. I don't feel I got a great introduction to any of the characters really except the king and queen. About the dates. I didn't feel the author did a good job with transitions. Going from chapter to chapter a few days might pass or a few years.

So while I didn't love this one, I still plan on reading more of Margaret Campbell Barnes.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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