Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mini Review: The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones

Release Date: October 14, 2014
 Pages: 416
Received: Finished copy and ARC from publisher via NetGalley 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf

I devoured this book. I've been on a total War of the Roses kick and Dan Jones's non-fiction offering was my latest obsession. As in, "leave me alone I'm reading" kind of obsession.

I'm usually not a fan of non-fiction books because, much as I want to love them, most of the ones I've tried to read have been long and rambly and boring and totally lacking all the excitement and character development I crave.

And, true, The Wars of the Roses didn't really have stellar character development. Most of the people are distantly described. I got a great idea of WHAT they did, I got a decent idea of WHY they did what they did, but I didn't get much information about how they FELT about it all. Doubly so when it comes to the ladies of the book.

But, after reading The Queen of Last Hopes, The Forbidden Queen, The Tudor Rose, and watching The White Queen, I had enough character development in my head to fill in the blanks here.

The real strength of The Wars of the Roses is the rip roaring plot. It starts with a bang and just does not let up. Which is pretty easy considering the subject matter is pretty much non-stop war, political intrigue, scheming, marriages, battles, switching alliances, and gory death.

A lot of non-fiction books fall into the habit of digressions, and while they do often contain interesting information, the tendency to wander like that is one of the big reasons I'm turned off from a lot of non-fiction books. It makes them feel so rambly and long (and therefore boring even when they shouldn't be).

Dan Jones does not wander. Not once. He relentlessly drives straight through events, hitting all the high points and never wavering off course. The result is a straight forward account of this time period that makes it really easy to follow all the schemes and events.

That also made it near impossible for me to put it down. I was SO engrossed in what was going on, who was going to die next and who was going to wear the crown (even though, by this point in my historical fiction reading, I already knew all the answers).

Bottom line

If you're looking for a clear accounting or primer of the Wars of the Roses, this is the book for you. Dan Jones does a fantastic job laying out events and key players in a way that is easy to follow and utterly engrossing. Having all the events laid out in one, clear narrative really helped tie together all the fictionalized stories I've read (I had a few Ah-HA moments as I connected the characters and events referenced in the different fiction books).

I will for sure check out Dan Jones's first book in this duology (The Plantagenets), though I think I'm going to try to read some historical fiction accounts of those characters first so I can again have a clearly developed picture of the personalities of the key players.     

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

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  1. I don't really know much about the War of the Roses or read much nonfiction, but I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Small. I'm off to Wikipedia more about the war now thanks to you :)

  2. Ooh, I SO want to read this now! Love historical reads.

    Great review!


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