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King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead. In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king -Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom. Yet there are King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead. In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king -Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom. Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England's territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real. As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what can save the kingdom before it is too late?


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King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead. In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king -Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom. Yet there are King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead. In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king -Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom. Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England's territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real. As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what can save the kingdom before it is too late?

30 review for Stormbird

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    I think the style of Igguldens writing made this novel what it is. He shows us each characters situation in a manner that suggests that there is no right or wrong. Both sides of the war had a reason to fight, and the authors portrays this is a completely neutral manner; thus, he leaves it up to the reader to decide if they follow the white rose or the red rose into battle, and the nest of court politics. Personally, I was rooting for the house of York. Duke Richard only wanted what was best for I think the style of Iggulden’s writing made this novel what it is. He shows us each character’s situation in a manner that suggests that there is no right or wrong. Both sides of the war had a reason to fight, and the author’s portrays this is a completely neutral manner; thus, he leaves it up to the reader to decide if they follow the white rose or the red rose into battle, and the nest of court politics. Personally, I was rooting for the house of York. Duke Richard only wanted what was best for his country. An array of characters Iggulden doesn’t just show us the conflict from the perspective of nobles and Kings; he also shows us it from the point of view of a common solider, and the Lancastrian Court’s spider. This, for me, made the story quite strong because we got to see how the decisions made by the ruling class affected those in the ranks of the army. Indeed, Henry VI decides to give up his lands in France, so the English settlers are forced to flee their homesteads from the incoming French. He intended the decision to lead to peace, but instead many of his subjects were slaughtered. I don’t think him and Derry thought if through properly. He’s not the best King, and should have used York as his strong right hand in this. But, that’s just historical speculation. “No congratulations?’ Derry said cheerfully. ‘No “well done, Derry”? I am disappointed in you, William Pole. There’s not many men could have pulled this off in such a time, but I have, haven’t I? The French looked for foxes and found only innocent chickens, just like we wanted. The marriage will go ahead and all we need to do now is mention casually to the English living in Maine and Anjou that their service is no longer appreciated by the Crown. In short, that they can fuck off.” His wife is just as bad, historically speaking again. But, in this novel I did come to sympathise with her. A large proportion of it is given over to her story; it’s more her book than any one else’s. She was, undeniably, a strong woman. She had to be for her husband; she was the strength behind the red rose. Her husband goes into a catatonic state and she, his young and foreign queen, is left holding the reins of power. To her mind, she must act fast if her husband’s dynasty is to survive. I only wish she could have seen York for what he was. I think Iggulden has really got into the minds of these historical figures, and tried to explain, in a fictional sense, the reasoning behind their actions. Some men aren’t meant to be Kings It is no surprise that Henry VI is seen as a weak King by the English; it is no surprise that his nobles wanted a stronger man to lead them. When the King enters his catatonic state they have their perfect opportunity. History can’t blame them too much. They simply wanted a better leader not one who surrender hard won land in France; they wanted a man like Henry Bolingbroke or his son: they wanted the house of York. Though, the ultimate climax of this is still a few books away. The surrendering or French soil is seen through the eyes of an English archer who has settled with his family. What he sees makes the King’s decisions seem ever weaker and born from pure fear, ultimately, providing more reason to prefer the Yorkist leaders. I think the series has a lot of potential, but I do hope the author shifts to some new point of view characters as the war develops. Whilst I enjoyed Margaret of Anjou as a narrator, I do think he will have to move away from her as her centrality of English politics begins to diminish with the new York reign. Well, it depends how far this series goes. Also, at his point, I do hope this series ends at a strong point of the conflict because at the moment I can’t really see at what point on the timeline it could be concluded. War of the Roses series: 1. Stormbird- An interesting four stars 2. Trinity A bloody four stars 3. Bloodline- A strong four stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dana Ilie

    If you like Historical Fiction, Conn Iggulden is your man.

  3. 4 out of 5

    happy

    While this novel is purported to be about the Wars of the Roses, Mr. Iggulden has set it in the time of the fall of the English Kingdom of France in the late 1440s and the civil unrest that followed. That said he introduces many of the real life characters that rose to prominence during those wars. They include Richard of York, descended on both sides from Edward III and father of the later Yorkist Kings, the reigning King - Henry VI and his wife Margret of Anjou, and the Neville family While this novel is purported to be about the Wars of the Roses, Mr. Iggulden has set it in the time of the fall of the English Kingdom of France in the late 1440s and the civil unrest that followed. That said he introduces many of the real life characters that rose to prominence during those wars. They include Richard of York, descended on both sides from Edward III and father of the later Yorkist Kings, the reigning King - Henry VI and his wife Margret of Anjou, and the Neville family – including the man who would become known as the Kingmaker. In telling his story, the author has created a couple of fascinating fictional characters. The first is Derry Brewer, who is the King’s spymaster and all around fix it man. His sole desire is to serve the king and accomplish the King’s desires no matter what it costs the Kingdom in general or him personally. Another gripping character is Thomas Woodchurch, an English settler in the county of Maine and an old companion of Derry. Mr. Iggulden uses these two characters to illustrate what the loss of England’s French possessions cost the common man. In telling the story of the Nobles – Richard of York is presented as very ambitious and slightly menacing, his wife equally so. Henry is a good but weak, both physically and mentally. His desire for peace at any cost is presented as playing into the French hands and directly leading to the loss of Normandy. The Duke of Suffolk is the scape goat for the loss of Normandy and is presented as one who has no greater ambitions and is just trying to do his duty to his King and Country. The Neville’s, allies of York, are also presented as ambitious and willing to do whatever it takes to make those ambitions come to pass. All this ambition is presented as a desire to do the best for England, who they feel needs a strong King. Mr. Iggulden uses Thomas Woodchurch and his family to tell the story of the disposition of the English settlers in France when their homes are given to France in the marriage treaty between Henry and Margret and the resulting truce. To say they didn’t accept it willingly is to understate the events. There rebellion is well told and as well as their frustration with the Nobility. Finally the author tells us the story of Jack Cade’s rebellion. A peasent uprising starting in Kent, this was probably the most successful of the many rebellions that occurred at the time. Cade is known to Thomas from his time in the army and Thomas is coopted into helping Cade turn his rabble into an actual fighting force. I found their story compelling. In this story Henry’s Queen is shown in a very heroic light. From the beginning of the book, in Edward III’s death chamber thru to the end of the book where Richard of York accepts the regency of England, I found this a very entertaining read – solid 4 stars for me

  4. 4 out of 5

    Al George

    Lancaster / York - A Game of Roses Setting / Time / Genre: 15th Century England and France Length: 507 pages of throwing down the historical mike Series: Yes. Two more re the War of the Roses - all you Game of Thrones people, take note. There's some history here you should be knowing. Sexy times: Not that kind of book. So that would be a no. I mean sex happens because we are talking kings and kingly lineages and how screwed up things got...but please. Plan on reading more by the author: Yup. I Lancaster / York - A Game of Roses Setting / Time / Genre: 15th Century England and France Length: 507 pages of throwing down the historical mike Series: Yes. Two more re the War of the Roses - all you Game of Thrones people, take note. There's some history here you should be knowing. Sexy times: Not that kind of book. So that would be a no. I mean sex happens because we are talking kings and kingly lineages and how screwed up things got...but please. Plan on reading more by the author: Yup. I love Conn Iggulden - *crushing* Synopsis in one sentence or slightly more: This is the story about a man named King Henry VI who's a little sickly and screws up that whole Henry V most excellent soliloquy: He's a little mad as kings can be. And in this death of leadership we have several factions grasping for power - and lot's of little side stories. Look for the story of Margaret of Anjou, and do your best to ignore the misogynistic views of who she was and how she acted. And then watch for Jack Cade the man of rebellion himself. Not to be ignored is Derihew Brewer, spymaster extraordinaire. Heroine: Again, not that kind of book. But let's talk Margaret of Anjou - here we meet a woman who is thrust in to a position by her family not necessarily of her choosing. And she turns out to be one of the most pivotal (ok among the most pivotal) women in history. This is the very beginning of a war to last years and years. Hero: So that part is sorta debatable. I'm not entirely certain there is a hero in this book. Too many players. However the spymaster is a good place to start. He's obvs got a humor part to play as well as the machinations of getting sh!t done. Why it did or didn't work for me: I loved this read. Then again, I absolutely love anything about the War of the Roses and this book went further back for me than most of the others I have read. It's a first Conn read but it won't be my last. You have to pay attention though, in fact, I found myself making lists of who was who and what their arc was. Without that to go back to, well, this would have been a challenging read. This book gives a great understanding to a complicated part of history without dumbing it down. Loved. For more info, check out: Conn Iggulden talks about his book Stormbird Wars of the Roses

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    This is the first novel in the War of the Roses series by Conn Iggulden. The author skillfully weaves the bodacious actions of two main fictitious characters (Derry Brewer, the Kings spymaster, and Thomas Woodchurch, a commoner living in Maine, France) with some pivotal historical events that took place under the reign of Henry VI of England. Part One deals with Derry Brewers political machinations initiated on Henrys behalf with the aim of bringing about a lasting truce with France. He throws This is the first novel in the “War of the Roses” series by Conn Iggulden. The author skillfully weaves the bodacious actions of two main fictitious characters (Derry Brewer, the King’s spymaster, and Thomas Woodchurch, a commoner living in Maine, France) with some pivotal historical events that took place under the reign of Henry VI of England. Part One deals with Derry Brewer’s political machinations initiated on Henry’s behalf with the aim of bringing about a lasting truce with France. He throws into the bargain England’s two French possessions, Anjou and Maine, and an offer for Henry to marry the French King’s (Charles VII) niece, Margaret of Anjou. Part Two tells the outrage felt by many English subjects who have lived all their lives in Maine and Anjou. Their riotous reaction to the English Crown giving up those lands is seen through the eyes of an archer-turned-merchant Thomas Woodchurch, who decides to lead a resistance movement in order to thwart the French army’s taking possession of the two towns. His attempt fails in the end. The English loses not only Maine and Anjou, but also Normandy. Part Three describes the infamous Jack Cade’s rebellion in London amidst widespread grievances in society over official corruption and the weakness of Henry VI in the face of an ever strengthening France. It sets the stage for Duke of York's throne-claiming ambitions to play out. All in all, the plot is a gripping one and the writing flawless, especially in the movie-like description of the battle scenes. However, I personally find it a bit hard to relate to the two fictitious characters. I’m giving this novel 3.5 stars out of 5.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Yeah..... Well it's like this.....Hmmmmm...... What to make of it really is the fact of the matter. For one, if you should accept this challenge (War of the Roses) then you're in it for the longhaul as this book jus stops. no cliffhangers here! I found it started very well & the opening exchanges between the factions were entertaining & incitefull as to the period & the beginnings of the War of the Roses & then well..... it got a little disjointed as no sooner you were warming to Yeah..... Well it's like this.....Hmmmmm...... What to make of it really is the fact of the matter. For one, if you should accept this challenge (War of the Roses) then you're in it for the longhaul as this book jus stops. no cliffhangers here! I found it started very well & the opening exchanges between the factions were entertaining & incitefull as to the period & the beginnings of the War of the Roses & then well..... it got a little disjointed as no sooner you were warming to a thread/characters then it jumped elsewhere, partly related to the ongoing plot but in others (MOSTLY) I thought... not really... before it finally settled into a rythem again & focused on the central theme as opposed to a few inane tangents in the middle third of the book. It's a bit tame in respect to his Genghis series which i loved (first 3 books) but then again this was Jolly ol' England - tea anyone? Cucumber sandwiches? so maybe it fits more with the style but maybe not.......? - an example being - the spymaster character of Derihew Brewer - started of with bravado when facing down the Duke of York (Boo hiss!) as expected & spoke of guile & politics but as the story evolved his character was far from it, lacked depth for sure & in truth was quite guileless & like a lost boy throughout - there are other examples of this - it's almost like? In order to get everything into the book the author has skimmed & sacrificed some of the depth of character/detail of plot in places. However Queen Margaret was very detailed & a good character too. I guess I was expecting more? I read from someone that ito it was his best book to date whilst others haven't like it at all. Me - It's a slow burner for sure & like a fire it fizzles & spits occasionally & then on goes a big log..... will it take & blaze away OR will it jus fizzle out.....? Hence the mark due to the above analogy, as it truth it flares from a 3.5 to a 2.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marquise

    The book is readable and very easy to get into because of the fluid pace and style, but lacks substance. It's a "light" type of plotting that doesn't care much for accuracy nor invests much in characterisation. It had a curious, and irritating, authorial choice related to addressing lords in a way that wasn't the fashion back then, like calling Richard, Duke of York simply "Lord York," or "Lord Suffolk" for William, Duke of Suffolk. It'd be easy to overlook, but Iggulden continues with the The book is readable and very easy to get into because of the fluid pace and style, but lacks substance. It's a "light" type of plotting that doesn't care much for accuracy nor invests much in characterisation. It had a curious, and irritating, authorial choice related to addressing lords in a way that wasn't the fashion back then, like calling Richard, Duke of York simply "Lord York," or "Lord Suffolk" for William, Duke of Suffolk. It'd be easy to overlook, but Iggulden continues with the misnoming choices by continually referring to people with their full title as if it were their names, often eliminating the "of" particle, like Earl Warwick, Earl Salisbury, etc. I'm sure many won't mind, but for me it was jarring, and I had to make a conscious effort to stay immersed every time this and similar choices popped up. As a positive point, though, I'd mention the side plot of the Maine settlers' rebellion, when as a result of the Henry VI/Margaret of Anjou marital alliance, the territories of Anjou and Maine are handed back to France. But the English settlers won't give up their hard-won lands without a fight, and fight they do. It's a hopeless cause, of course, and it was interesting to see that little known part of the pre-Wars of the Roses period in a novel. It's not often that you see conflicts from the viewpoint of the commonfolk who pay for the political games of the powerful. Thomas Woodchurch was definitely a good addition to the novel. There's not much more I could say about this, it's a first installment in a longish series, and it does show because a lot is left underdeveloped or hanging out there by a cliff so you go pick the next book up. Is it worth it? Moderately so. I'd not recommend this for your Priority Reading pile, more for one of those days when you feel like reading anything light and not too demanding.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sayan

    E. P. I. C. In every sense. Awesome battles, great plot and near accurate history. Conn Iggulden gave a great story on the War of Roses. I couldn't stop once I started to turn the pages. The story is of the historical war between two noble houses of England . The House of Lancaster and the House of York. The famous rift that was known as the War of Roses. Which in turn inspired the very famous George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. England was ruled by the once fierce warrior king, Edward E. P. I. C. In every sense. Awesome battles, great plot and near accurate history. Conn Iggulden gave a great story on the War of Roses. I couldn't stop once I started to turn the pages. The story is of the historical war between two noble houses of England . The House of Lancaster and the House of York. The famous rift that was known as the War of Roses. Which in turn inspired the very famous George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. England was ruled by the once fierce warrior king, Edward the Third, the victor of the legendary battle of Agincourt. The king is old and in his death bed. His five sons are Edward, the Black Prince, Lionel, John of Gaunt, Edmund, Duke of York, and Thomas of Woodstock. After King Edward's death, his grandson, son of Edward, is crowned king, as Richard the Second. He is deposed by Henry of Bolingbroke, King Henry the Fourth. Thus starts the Royal Line of Lancaster. In 1443, a righteous and honorable English nobleman, William de la Pole, meets with the English spymaster, Derihew Brewer, to arrange peace between England and France. The English King, Richard IV, is a frail and sick man, and demands peace. The bride in question is Margaret, the second daughter of The Count of Anjou, Renee. The agreements to this marraige is the lands claimed by England on French soils be returned to the King of France. War breaks out in Normandy, as many fleeing farmers rebel against the French who come to evict them. One of them is Thomas Woodchruch, as former archer. He had long lived in his lands in France, and didn't like to get evicted. He leads a band of rebels who ambush and attack the French armies. But he is outnumbered and at last has to flee. While in England, Margaret becomes a very faithful and loyal wife to Richard, who is ailing. The Duke of York, Richard, has long eyed the throne of England, and finds ways to plot against the King. York's leadership in France is taken away and given to William de la Pole, who tries in vain to defend the French land. The fleeing people from France cause a discontent in the common folk of England. From this rises a rebel. Jack Cade. Along with two of his best friends, he forms a band of armed farmers, who then march all the way to London, and sack it. William de la Pole, is arrested and taken for torture, when King Richard IV with persuasive help from Margaret, saves William. But he is banished from England, to live the rest of his life in France. During his journey to France, he is waylaid by a pirate ship, commissioned by Richard, who kill William. Conn Iggulden's Waf of Roses series of Historical fiction, is a very fine series to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    This is my first venture into Iggulden territory. I've avoided his writing before as I've tended to associate him with books for boys - an association which was reaffirmed with the publication of The Dangerous Book for Boys which he co-wrote with his brother Hal. However, Stormbird attracted me as I find the War of the Roses a particularly intriguing historical period peopled with really engaging characters. Having now read the novel, I can confirm it is a book for boys, filled with derring-do, This is my first venture into Iggulden territory. I've avoided his writing before as I've tended to associate him with “books for boys” - an association which was reaffirmed with the publication of The Dangerous Book for Boys which he co-wrote with his brother Hal. However, Stormbird attracted me as I find the War of the Roses a particularly intriguing historical period peopled with really engaging characters. Having now read the novel, I can confirm it is a book for boys, filled with derring-do, lots of blood and gore and a love of detail, especially when it comes to the physical make up of an archer and his weaponry. Now, there's nothing wrong with attention to detail but I, personally, prefer my historical fiction to have more focus on the inner thoughts and motivation of characters with a particular emphasis on the female point of view plus a tad less poetic licence when it comes to the facts....I think we'll just have to agree to differ! I loved the passages featuring Margaret d'Anjou as she grew in confidence from a young 14 year old being gifted to the English king in order to gain a truce to a strong-willed, brave woman struggling to hold on to her husband's throne while he was non compos mentis. I also enjoyed the portrayal of the brave, devoted Lord Suffolk who gave his heart and soul for his country. Less inspiring, for me, were the skirmishes between the English and French and the long trek of Jack Cade and his army of Kentish men as they laid siege to London. Stormbird is the first of a series of books about The War of the Roses and I am sure it will be as successful as Iggulden's previous novels. It will appeal to those who enjoy action-packed, high-octane novels with lots of battles and information on strategy. As for me, being a bit of a girly, I'll stick with Philippa and Alison!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I rushed right through Stormbird in a day. Appreciated a lot about the book. There are extensive historical notes and family trees. All interesting and helpful. Good characters were to be found in Margaret of Anjou, Thomas Woodchurch, Derry Brewer & Lord Suffolk. The POV from the Frenchmen was well done. Nice to have more than one side of things. Still ended up with only a 2 star from me. Parts of the story felt too slow. Especially the section about the marriage of Margaret and Henry. The I rushed right through Stormbird in a day. Appreciated a lot about the book. There are extensive historical notes and family trees. All interesting and helpful. Good characters were to be found in Margaret of Anjou, Thomas Woodchurch, Derry Brewer & Lord Suffolk. The POV from the Frenchmen was well done. Nice to have more than one side of things. Still ended up with only a 2 star from me. Parts of the story felt too slow. Especially the section about the marriage of Margaret and Henry. The negotiations and troubles and proxy and......after awhile I just wanted to get on with the story. Though without it all, I doubt I would have liked Margaret as much. Bit of a conundrum there for me. The story of Jack Cade felt jarring at the beginning. I had no idea why it was there and it took awhile to sort out why we kept coming back to his tale. I imagine the next book will be better as the subject matter will be more interesting. Bring on the Duke of York!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Finally, I settled to read some Conn Iggulden - best seller of HF, UK writer so shouldn't get too annoyed by the vernacular (as can happen when glaring misnomens happen). Experienced writer so new series beginning should be at the top of his powers. Absolutely dreadful. Including the misnomen issue. Lord York? Tut. Characterisation = caricature or possibly cartoon. Gratuitous violence and torture. Pointless side stories. Drat! Such promising material too! And reading the author's note, Finally, I settled to read some Conn Iggulden - best seller of HF, UK writer so shouldn't get too annoyed by the vernacular (as can happen when glaring misnomens happen). Experienced writer so new series beginning should be at the top of his powers. Absolutely dreadful. Including the misnomen issue. Lord York? Tut. Characterisation = caricature or possibly cartoon. Gratuitous violence and torture. Pointless side stories. Drat! Such promising material too! And reading the author's note, well-researched (even if I didn't agree with some of his conclusions). Henry VI is not written about enough and is such an interesting character because of his mental instability - as is Margaret, his wife. What a waste and how disappointing. It's another Robyn Young situation......

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    An interesting start with only a little of the bloody politics to come.... review to follow

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    As my first Iggulden book, I had high expectations. Perhaps I have been spoilt by the likes of Bernard Cornwall. The period itself is fascinating, which is why I chose it. The intrigue, the back room deals, the kings illness, the rebellion. It was such a tumultuous time for England! There were some standout characters: Derry, Margaret and Suffolk, were probably my favourites. I think for me, not having a thorough knowledge of this period, perhaps I wanted more detail about the characters and why As my first Iggulden book, I had high expectations. Perhaps I have been spoilt by the likes of Bernard Cornwall. The period itself is fascinating, which is why I chose it. The intrigue, the back room deals, the kings illness, the rebellion. It was such a tumultuous time for England! There were some standout characters: Derry, Margaret and Suffolk, were probably my favourites. I think for me, not having a thorough knowledge of this period, perhaps I wanted more detail about the characters and why they were choosing certain paths. Certainly you realise the difficulties writing about these period pieces when reading the epilogue and I can accept that. I just felt that there was something that didn't hold it all together. Going from a lot of other reviews I am in the minority, so for me it may just be a style thing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    L

    An exciting new historical novel which brings the past vividly to life, in all its bloodthirsty glory. Stormbird is the thrilling new novel by bestselling, accomplished author Conn Iggulden (author of Caesar and Genghis Khan Series). Refreshingly original and compelling the extraordinary war of the roses is captured accurately on the page, transforming historical fact into a fictional masterpiece. Colorful, vibrant and atmospheric I was greatly impressed by how Iggulden gets to the core of the An exciting new historical novel which brings the past vividly to life, in all its bloodthirsty glory. Stormbird is the thrilling new novel by bestselling, accomplished author Conn Iggulden (author of Caesar and Genghis Khan Series). Refreshingly original and compelling the extraordinary ‘war of the roses’ is captured accurately on the page, transforming historical fact into a fictional masterpiece. Colorful, vibrant and atmospheric I was greatly impressed by how Iggulden gets to the core of the greatest civil war and doesn’t diminish the rawness and harshness of the times. Gritty and realistic, the words touch upon all senses so as to paint a very real picture of what 1400 England was like. With the new television series “The White Queen” (based on Philippa Gregory’s novel), I feel that this period within history is extremely popular at the moment with a great buzz surrounding Henry VI’s and Edward III reign. ‘Stormbird’ is about King Henry VI of England, that decent and pious man who was so completely unable to rule as his father had done – the immortal victor of Agincourt. It is about Margaret of Anjou, the Queen he married twice, who was cast into a savage and hostile English court at the tender age of fifteen. Finally, it is about the five great families descended from King Edward III and how they fought and maneuvered to control the throne of England. Long-buried Kings are brought into the light once more, because some stories are too good to be allowed to grow cold. Unlike other novels surrounding this time within our fascinating and sometimes brutal history, Stormbird speaks of what happened to REAL men and explains clearly why events took place. Conn Iggulden’s tight grasp on the reality of such distinctive events within our past is so assured, that you end up not only gaining an altogether clear image of it all, but something much closer to the heart. Those people who lived and struggled, who did their best in a time of adversity and change, are the greatest stories ever told – touching you inwardly and striking a chord in all our hearts. I felt the authenticity behind every word, which I could connect with as well as learn from. This truly is a powerful piece of prose and a new novel that is a shining jewel amongst a very competitive genre. I would highly recommend ‘Stormbird’ and predict it to be this year’s bestselling novel. *I won a Preview copy of Conn Iggulden’s “War of the Roses: Stormbird” through a Goodreads, First-Read giveaway. I would like to thank Penguin publishers and the author for this*

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cora Tea Party Princess

    This is not a full review - this review pertains only to the 5-chapter sample won via Goodreads First Reads. I'm a sucker for historical novels, and this is a good start. I could picture everything perfectly, I could feel the chill in the air. The most poignant moment in those five chapters was definitely the deathbed scene in that first chapter. I felt really sorry for Alice, the way his sons disregarded her despite her obvious love for the king. I've applied for the full book, and hope I get it. This is not a full review - this review pertains only to the 5-chapter sample won via Goodreads First Reads. I'm a sucker for historical novels, and this is a good start. I could picture everything perfectly, I could feel the chill in the air. The most poignant moment in those five chapters was definitely the deathbed scene in that first chapter. I felt really sorry for Alice, the way his sons disregarded her despite her obvious love for the king. I've applied for the full book, and hope I get it. I'd love to review it in full. I received a 5 chapter smapler of this for free via Goodreads First Reads.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Harrison

    Very good start to a series of Britain's own Game of Thrones. Lots of factions plotting the downfall of King Henry VI. He has an idiot spymaster whose plans are so stupid you would not believe leading to revolution in France and at home. Liked Suffolk and the 14.year old Margaret of Anjou who is the only clear thinker in the monarchy. Promising start to four book series.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tony Riches

    Conn Iggulden was interviewed by Mariella Frostrup for the BBC programme 'Open Book' recently and said, "The wonderful thing about historical fiction is it has to entertain and inform." Stormbird is the first in his new series about the Ward of the Roses and certainly achieves both. I've read quite a few books about this period but this the first to explore what it must have been like for the English settlers who suddenly found their lands in France had been given back to the French. Conn keeps Conn Iggulden was interviewed by Mariella Frostrup for the BBC programme 'Open Book' recently and said, "The wonderful thing about historical fiction is it has to entertain and inform." Stormbird is the first in his new series about the Ward of the Roses and certainly achieves both. I've read quite a few books about this period but this the first to explore what it must have been like for the English settlers who suddenly found their lands in France had been given back to the French. Conn keeps up the pace by interweaving several plot lines (including one about Jack Cade's rebellion that could be a whole book in its own right.) I was also intrigued by the way he made Richard Duke of York the villain and the Duke of Suffolk, William de la Pole, into a tragic hero. Most authors are quick to dismiss de la Pole as an inept blunderer but it all looks very different from his point of view. In his end notes Conn Iggulden comments on how historical fiction often involves filling in the gaps and unexplained parts of history. When this is done well, as in Stormbird, it can really help to see the known facts in the context of the attitudes and conditions of the times. This is particularly the case with the complex ‘Wars of the Roses’, where the history was of course written by the victors. It's clear how Conn Iggulden has become one of our best-selling historical fiction authors - and I'm looking forward to the next in the series, which he says he is planned as a trilogy but will probably end up as a four or five parter.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I really liked this book and cant wait till I get the second book in the series ☺ I really liked this book and can’t wait till I get the second book in the series ☺️

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beorn

    This is Iggulden at his finest. Notably his best book yet! One thing I took from his previous two series, the Caesar led Emperor novels and the Mongol centred saga, was that his style felt very grand, detailed and rich in detail yet somehow a little detached from the action. By that I mean, although there was elements of getting inside key characters minds, by and large it felt as if it were written by an observer, or an outsider rather than someone palpably in the middle of the action. This first This is Iggulden at his finest. Notably his best book yet! One thing I took from his previous two series, the Caesar led Emperor novels and the Mongol centred saga, was that his style felt very grand, detailed and rich in detail yet somehow a little detached from the action. By that I mean, although there was elements of getting inside key characters minds, by and large it felt as if it were written by an observer, or an outsider rather than someone palpably in the middle of the action. This first instalment of his 15th Century England War Of The Roses' themed series has the feel of Iggulden on top form. It maintains the high standard of rich detail and immersive action with a whole new level of characterisation and a depth of feeling that actually makes you feel like you've got your feet figuratively on the ground next to the character themselves rather than hovering slightly above them watching the action. This is Iggulden at his most tangible and in his element. Add that rich vein of superb characterisation to a mastery of weaving various threads of characters into an over-arcing tapestry of a story, teasing and manipulating the reader so expertly that you end up actually rather caring about what happens to the characters. Case in point being Jack Cade. To begin with, I thought he would be just a typical knuckleheaded bruiser who'd gather a rabble of ne'er-do-wells around him and soon meet his suitably sticky end. And although for the most part you're not particularly fond of him, you do find yourself growing strangely endeared to him so that by the time his character leaves the story, you actually sympathise with him rather than rub your hands with glee. The story does seem to plateau in places, though not dip, which is literally the single, vague hair of a gripe I could even think of to try and balance out the review. I'll admit as an Englishman that I knew nothing whatsoever concrete about the War Of The Roses before reading this book and was a little daunted by how internecine and serpentine the warring & political manoeuvring might prove to be but Iggulden has not only managed to portray it in an enjoyable accessible way but whetted my appetite for looking deeper into the subject matter at heart and teaching me something historical in the process. I'll say it again, Iggulden's finest hour. Marvellous. This book is far more deserving of a 4 1/2 out of 5 but as you can't mark it like that on here and I didn't have the conviction to mark it a perfect 5/5, I had to go for a four instead.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    Supremely enjoyable first installment with enough blending of fact and fiction, historical characters and Iggulden's own creations, to prevent the story getting bogged down in over-familiar historical trudgery. How many times can you read the same story about the same people? <= the main flaw of Philippa Gregory's WOTR series IMO He's not afraid to have real people kick up some high-flying dramatic fuss, condense timelines, or ignore facts that would drag down pacing or inflate the cast to Supremely enjoyable first installment with enough blending of fact and fiction, historical characters and Iggulden's own creations, to prevent the story getting bogged down in over-familiar historical trudgery. How many times can you read the same story about the same people? <= the main flaw of Philippa Gregory's WOTR series IMO He's not afraid to have real people kick up some high-flying dramatic fuss, condense timelines, or ignore facts that would drag down pacing or inflate the cast to ridiculous proportions. (There are books where all the facts are in their proper place, and not a footnoted hair is astray, and that's non-fiction.) Iggulden's a novelist, and the story had the feeling that he (rightly) put that above making sure he was including all of his research down to the very last irrelevant detail. <= the main flaw of Sharon Kay Penman IMO Honorable mention to the narrator, Roy McMillan. I haven't heard any of his audiobooks before, but I'm now a fan. He kept all the voices distinct to an amazing degree and totally engaged me in the goings-on. Onward to Book 2... :P

  21. 5 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    Not a proper review, just a few comments. I found the book to be vaguely unsatisfying. It has a long list of characters with lots of names I did not know. Iggulden doesn't specify which are real and which are fictional which is a huge shame. Quite a few gory descriptions of battle and torture which I could have done without. At very few intervals, he heads a chapter with a date specification so sometimes it's unclear just when things are happening. Overall, the book feels very much like a Not a proper review, just a few comments. I found the book to be vaguely unsatisfying. It has a long list of characters with lots of names I did not know. Iggulden doesn't specify which are real and which are fictional which is a huge shame. Quite a few gory descriptions of battle and torture which I could have done without. At very few intervals, he heads a chapter with a date specification so sometimes it's unclear just when things are happening. Overall, the book feels very much like a Fiction rather than Historical Faction. I love Hist Faction authors and Historians like Hilary Mantel and Alison Weir books on the subject much more than Iggulden.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    A good historical novel that explains how the War of the Roses began. A bit lengthy and slow in parts but impressed with the telling of the various timelines and bringing them together.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paola

    I enjoyed this book so much and learned more about the start of the war of roses, a weak king can't succeed and expect loyalty, because people will try to depose him, and because of that, this war between different members of the royal family begins, cousin against cousin, in order to obtain and keep the throne....

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    DNF. Too blokey for me. Shouldn't have been a surprise - a bloke writing about blokey things - but it needed a few more women in swishy frocks to unbloke the blokeyness. Ah well, blokey is as blokey does.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ivie dan Glokta

    I remember my first novel by Conn Iggulden donkeys years ago. The first of the Emperor series, and I must admit I didn't know who he was. I loved Roman history so anything on Caesar would be good. My flight was long and nothing else seemed as tempting. By the time I landed, I knew the author to be brilliant writer and promptly bought the rest of the series while I was still at the airport. History made Caesar into a great man. Conn Iggulden made him into a hero. I did not want the series to end. I remember my first novel by Conn Iggulden donkeys years ago. The first of the Emperor series, and I must admit I didn't know who he was. I loved Roman history so anything on Caesar would be good. My flight was long and nothing else seemed as tempting. By the time I landed, I knew the author to be brilliant writer and promptly bought the rest of the series while I was still at the airport. History made Caesar into a great man. Conn Iggulden made him into a hero. I did not want the series to end. In a way I had hoped that after Caesar's death he will still continue writing about Rome. There were so many more to choose from. I mean Nero, Caligula? Take your pick. In a sense I wanted to read about the antiheroes of the time, but written in a brilliant way that only gifted historians like Conn Iggulden could write. Who knows, it might still happen. Conqueror series was a breath of fresh air. It delivered insight into a culture I had not known much about. To say it was interesting and action packed would be an understatement. Conn Iggulden writes in a way witch seems effortless. That is the very best kind. His talent translates trough the actions of his characters, trough their gestures, speech and facial expressions. The man paints a mental image like no other, and I am certain there are many out there wishing for just a sliver of his talent. Stormbird was difficult for me. Sadly. I didn't want it to be. At first I wanted to wait for the entire series to be released before I read it but I couldn't wait. It took me three days to finish this. I was picking at it at night, waiting to pull me in like all his other novels. It didn't. I found myself zoning out a couple of times and I really had to work on focusing on the novel. It was a little bit boring I guess. Although the scenes were set in a lovely way the action didn't develop in that fluid way he described Caesar or the great Khan. I went trough the pages hoping that something more would happen on the next one, something that would eventually pick up the pace. In the end it left me kind of flat. Don't get me wrong, it was still a good read. Is it one of my favorites by him? Not by a long shot. Will I continue with the series? Absolutely. You do not leave unfinished a Conn Iggulden series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    The story begins in 1437, with Henry VI, coming of age ascending to the English throne. This is the first book in the trilogy series and is a whopper of a read. The author cleverly entwines fact and fiction. This feels very much like a block buster in the same genre as Ken Follet. The author really has captured this turbulent period in history and this urges the reader to read more about the actual history of this period. The Wars of the Roses was a series of dynastic wars fought between The story begins in 1437, with Henry VI, coming of age ascending to the English throne. This is the first book in the trilogy series and is a whopper of a read. The author cleverly entwines fact and fiction. This feels very much like a block buster in the same genre as Ken Follet. The author really has captured this turbulent period in history and this urges the reader to read more about the actual history of this period. The Wars of the Roses was a series of dynastic wars fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York. Henry VI's right to the crown was challenged by Richard, Duke of York, who could claim descent from Edward's second and fourth surviving sons, Lionel of Antwerp and Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York. Richard of York, who had held several important offices of state, quarrelled with prominent Lancastrians at court and with Henry VI's queen, Margaret of Anjou. Henry VI has a weak constitution and is in poor health he is very dependent on those closest to him to run England but there are others who believe England should be ruled by a strong king if it is to survive. He suffers from a mental breakdown (one wonders what the diagnosis would be today and if treatable) and black clouds are emerging as the inevitable war of the roses begins. The characters the author has created are not just the famous characters from history but he uses the lives ordinary people. This makes the, story alive and enables the reader to relate to this, rather than just being a history lesson. This is period of history I am interested in, and living in Tewkesbury I knew part of the story but have to admit I did not know as much as thought I did. This is a great read and the author writes with no holds barred this is brutal as you would expect at times, but a real page turner. Sadly as this book is not released till October 2013, I will have to wait for some time for the next instalment.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yorkshiresoul

    This is my first encounter with Conn Iggulden's writing and it certainly won't be the last. I found Iggulden's fictionalised narrative of the events leading up to the War of the Roses both enthralling and exciting. Stormbird holds a wealth of realistic characters, from the brave Engligh archer Thomas Woodchurch, the conniving but likeable Derry Brewer and the emerging strength of character of the new English queen Iggulden handles them all well, creating a believable cast filled with opposing and This is my first encounter with Conn Iggulden's writing and it certainly won't be the last. I found Iggulden's fictionalised narrative of the events leading up to the War of the Roses both enthralling and exciting. Stormbird holds a wealth of realistic characters, from the brave Engligh archer Thomas Woodchurch, the conniving but likeable Derry Brewer and the emerging strength of character of the new English queen Iggulden handles them all well, creating a believable cast filled with opposing and interweaving desires and actions. If I likened Stormbird to George R R Martin's epic A Song Of Ice And Fire (popularly adapted to TV as A Game Of Thrones) then I mean it as high praise. Iggulden may not have Martin's free hand when it comes to what happens to his characters, but he manages the plot in gripping style. Stormbird is largely action based, there are gory descriptions of battles a-plenty and Iggulden certainly succeeds in making the reek of medieval London leap from the page. Away from the martial action, Iggulden builds tension in the interplay of the ailing King, the Queen who grows in stature as she becomes more threatened and the Lords who circle, waiting to seize their own opportunity for power. Deftly plotted and with both great scope and good characters, I thoroughly enjoyed Stormbird and look forward to the next instalment.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    14 OCT 2015 - I can already tell this book is going to keep me up past my bedtime. Derry Brewer is filled with trickery. 17 OCT 2015 - I liked this a lot! I read at every opportunity - past bedtime, lunch breaks, and between assignments (don't tell!). I look forward to Nos. 2 and 3.

  29. 5 out of 5

    James 'Eagle'

    Stormbird: An Opinionated View of History. When I look back at history and the figures instrumental in making events worthy of record, I like to have an unbiased view. I mean really, can any of us truly judge those living in a completely different culture, society, and time to what we live in now? And how can any of us purport to be able to know what individuals were thinking of and planning six centuries ago? We obviously cannot. I know that historical fiction is exactly that: fiction. And the Stormbird: An Opinionated View of History. When I look back at history and the figures instrumental in making events worthy of record, I like to have an unbiased view. I mean really, can any of us truly judge those living in a completely different culture, society, and time to what we live in now? And how can any of us purport to be able to know what individuals were thinking of and planning six centuries ago? We obviously cannot. I know that historical fiction is exactly that: fiction. And the events therein, although based on actualities, are dramatised to an extent to make them dramatic and exciting for a modern reader. Knowing that this is a truth about the genre didn't help me like Stormbird more. When I read or watch something based on history, I like to have the belief that those things actually happened to those people. It then pulls me out of it a little when I do some research to find out that, although similar, it wasn't what actually happened. This doesn't happen all the time however, the fate of William de la Pole is pretty much spot on, but it does happen often enough for me to dislike the alterations. What most annoyed me was the demonisation of Richard, Duke of York. I understand for a story as a piece of any medium it is easier to get people involved if there is an understanding about the identity of a figure that can, for purposes of simplicity, be labelled 'antagonist'. The story mainly focuses on the side of the Lancaster's, most chapters revolving around Margaret of Anjou, or Derihew Brewer (a fictionalised character, which also annoyed me somewhat). So there had to be an adversary. As an author of a 3rd person narrative regarding history and the lives of real people, I believe you should have the responsibility to represent characters without your own bias. Particularly when it involves damaging the reputation of a person in the eyes of future generations. I felt when reading this novel, although it may not necessarily be the case, that Mr. Iggulden brought his own opinion into it. By making York appear to be this poisonous ambitious character, that disliked everyone and whose only goal was to claim the throne. Of course there would be rivalries, there would be discontent. A civil war truly did happen. But for one side to appear angelic and the other to be cruel and without mercy, I felt to be a bit much. The novel itself failed to grab my attention. I did feel saddened that I wasn't more interested in it. The period of history itself is fascinating! But the novel, the first of a series on The Wars of the Roses simply seemed more like a war novel with France with a rushed account of the Jack Cade rebellion thrown in at the end. I know these events were pivotal to the escalation to the civil war, but the novel was lacking a lot about that civil war, and York himself isn't in that much. The issues with France did seem to drag on. There were extended battle scenes which I struggled to get involved in because they were in it too early and I didn't feel connected to any of the characters. There was also too much focus on battles. Heck, don't get me wrong I enjoy battles. But you can only have too much, and sometimes when you've read one battle scene you've read them all. For that period of history, I expected more political intrigue. More behind the scenes events. But there wasn't really anything like that. It jumped around characters not really developing any of them (besides possibly Margaret) and without any true connection to scenes. In the span of 470 pages it covers 8 years of history but doesn't make it clear that such an extent of time has passed. At one point William thinks back to four years ago when he brought Margaret over from France, but that scene was depicted only 100 pages ago and is the first indication that such a passage of time has taken place! It really did throw me out of the narrative. Along with little description of key scenes and consistent awkward dialogue (the dialogue is potentially the worst thing about the novel) it was a struggle to be hooked. As for characters as of yet unmentioned, what was with the random archer Thomas Woodchurch? How come he seemed to know every important person under the sun? Even though he had never been more than an archer. Her knew the King's Spymaster personally and also knew the leader of the rebellion, again personally. It was just too far fetched to be believable! And Mr. Iggulden really does love the English archer, he couldn't have enough of his endless ranting about how amazing English archers were. All the time. Thomas would talk about how amazing being an archer was, and how strong and committed you had to be. William would be in the middle of a battle, barely thinking about the infantry, but fawning over how incredible the archers were. There was even a scene with the French King when he's shouting about how awesome English archers are and how he wants some of his own. Alright Iggulden, I get it! Archers are the bomb, please just move on already! I think the strongest parts of the novel were those involving Jack Cade. You truly did get a feel for the injustice he received and for the motives that led him to start his rebellion. Iggulden had a lot of room for artistic license here as not much is known about the real Jack Cade and he did it well. I did get involved with Cade and his merry band. His dream of happiness and the inevitable dashing of his hopes were quite moving. As a closing comment I was never entirely sure why the novel was called Stormbird. It wasn't explained and wherever I try to look it up I get no answers. So that's a mystery for me. I'm guessing it has some connection to Margaret and I did enjoy her growth from naïve fun-loving child to a hard powerful ruler in order to make up for her weak husband. It was believable and her interactions with Henry VI were quite touching. But overall the book suffers from poor dialogue, skimming over characters, and getting too bogged down in uninteresting plots. That's just what I thought about that. Stormbird, I wasn't really a great fan of it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This was one of my most anticipated books to read this year, and it did not disappoint. I have never read a Wars of the Roses novel that was so complete in its description of why battle actually broke out. Beginning with a prologue that placed Edward III on his death bed, surrounded by his three remaining sons, Iggulden sets the stage for family drama. Throughout the novel, as Richard of York makes his quiet play for power, the words of Edmund of Langley to his brother John of Gaunt echo through This was one of my most anticipated books to read this year, and it did not disappoint. I have never read a Wars of the Roses novel that was so complete in its description of why battle actually broke out. Beginning with a prologue that placed Edward III on his death bed, surrounded by his three remaining sons, Iggulden sets the stage for family drama. Throughout the novel, as Richard of York makes his quiet play for power, the words of Edmund of Langley to his brother John of Gaunt echo through the reader's mind. "Have you thought, John, that there is just a boy now between you and the crown? If it weren't for dear little Richard, you would be king tomorrow." Rather than taking the simplified approach that strong, ambitious Richard of York wrested power from a weak, timid King Henry VI, the author details the events leading up to Richard becoming Protector and Defender of the Realm. Richard is not a central character, but he is always seen lurking around the edges, making sure that things turn out the way that he has planned. The focus is split between Margaret of Anjou, fictional Derry Brewer, and Thomas Woodchurch who eventually joins the Jack Cade rebellion. The reader learns about the various aspects of Henry VI's downfall through each of these characters. Margaret is written in a way that enabled me to feel some sympathy for her for the first time. As a fourteen year old bride, she cares for and ambitiously defends her young, ill husband. Though other authors have attempted to build her character as something other than a she-wolf who tormented England with foreign troops, this is the first time I started believing that history may have treated her too harshly. Derry Brewer is a creative invention of Iggulden's. This character is developed as a mastermind behind Henry's plans but with no real power of his own. How he came to be so devoted to the king or in such personal service is not really explained, but he does his best to defend those York has marked as enemies, including William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, and King Henry himself. Through Tom Woodchurch's character the reader is shown the true effects of Henry and Margaret's marriage truce that allowed Anjou and Maine to revert back to France. The complete devastation of the English living in these territories never even seemed to be a consideration to those playing with lives as if they were pieces on a chess board. Tom's path intersects with Jack Cade's, allowing another point of view to be told. How was this unknown man able to rally thousands of troops to march on London? With so much going wrong in England, Henry's months-long mental lapse was all the opening Richard of York needed. With his own royal blood giving him just as much right to the throne as Henry, his ability to rule made him the obvious choice to those looking for a leader. Still his success comes across a little more like the rise of Darth Vader than a savior for the kingdom. I am looking forward to reading more of Iggulden's detailed view of the Wars of the Roses in the sequel, Trinity.

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