Rating: DNF on page 100 of 385
My husband and I both read a lot, but we rarely read the same books and I've wanted to do a read-along together for a while now.
He read and loved Conn Iggulden's series on Genghis Khan, so I was super excited to see the same author was going to write about a topic I actually want to read about—The Wars of the Roses (sorry Genghis!).
And by super excited, I mean I obsessively stalked multiple library systems for a year trying to get my hands on a copy.
That great day finally arrived and my husband and I sat down together, each with a copy of the book, and began reading. It was adorable.
Then, about an hour into reading, we turned to each other and simultaneously did the hesitant, "Soooo how are you liking it?"
And then we both caved and admitted that we were not liking this one bit.
I'll give this disclaimer: I'm not sure why this book irritated me as much as it did. Sure it had flaws I can point out, but so do other books that admittedly don't bother me like this one does.
The actual review
Surprisingly, Stormbird was not written very well. The sentence structure was pretty simplistic, which made for a very easy read (plus!) but definitely not of the caliber I was expecting. You know how sometimes adult authors try to write for young adult audiences and "dumb down" their writing as a result? That's what this felt like. It didn't feel very historical, either.
It was also so excruciatingly SLOW. I read up to page 100, which is over a quarter of the way through the book, and Henry VI and Margaret hadn't even been married yet! This should have been covered in a chapter or two. (For those less historically inclined, imagine if it had taken over 100 pages to get to the "You're a wizard, Harry!" part. Not good.)
Iggulden fills the pages with so much pointless stuff, and I don't mean historical details. I seriously would have loved accurate historical details. Alas, accuracy doesn't seem to be a priority for Mr. Iggulden. The stuff there is more just random scenes that made me wonder what was the point of reading them. Even worse, most of them follow fictional characters.
When he does write about real people, they're painfully one-note. Richard of York and his wife Cecily are EVIL *insert cackling laugh* I was half expecting Cecily to whip out a dalmatian puppy skin coat to wear to the banquet.
But back to those fictional characters. Conn Iggulden made his favorite fictional character Derry Brewer a total Mary Sue who is SURPRISE! actually THE person responsible for all those Very Important historical events. I really hate historical inaccuracies, but I truly loathe fictional thunder stealing.
Not only does the character get credit for negotiating something Very Big, but in real life this event played a large part in the death of the actual person who is responsible for the negotiation, so attributing it to the fictional Derry Brewer didn't sit right with me.
Not to mention his cringe-worthy interactions with York (a spy of no station is calling the Duke of York Richard and treating him like an unruly cub? And Richard of York is cowering? Seriously??)
Iggulden also makes such a huge deal about his fictional character coming up with this ingenious, never before seen, blow your minds with his awesomeness idea that led to much swirling anticipation and tension that we wrung our hands over for an entire chapter wondering if he'll be able to pull off this novel idea for a...
wait for it...
A proxy wedding!
Seriously?! Proxy weddings were an established thing at the time. Fictional Mr. Brewer gets NO POINTS for that.
I'm also not buying that Derry Brewer could dupe everyone into believing the king of England had traveled to France for a marriage (because, sure, kings were in the habit of doing that sort of thing *eyeroll*) and then pulled a "Psych! Going home now!" move at the last minute (effectively leaving poor Margaret waiting at the alter, because that wouldn't offend anyone) with the paltry excuse of he wasn't feeling well...when in fact he had never actually left England! I'm supposed to believe this is actually a plan? A legit plan? That everyone buys and no one questions the total, obvious lack of a king, entourage, and months of planning?
And that's when I DNF-ed.
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