Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Princes in the Tower, by Alison Weir

I think Alison Weir and I would get along. Assuming she only writes books about the things that interest her, we have common interests. (Or maybe she just does a good job making her interests interesting to me, but then why did I read Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V?). The only thing that would keep us from being BFF might be my ignorance of how to pronounce her name (Wire? Weer?).

I read her Wars of the Roses in 2005 and liked it a lot. I recently purchased her Eleanor of Aquitaine (although it also might put a strain on our potential friendship, as I bought it at a used book store). The Princes in the Tower has been on my reading list for a long time. At the same time that I read it, my wife got suckered into reading The Daughter of Time. At her book club, most members agreed that I had read the better book.

This book does a good job painting Richard III as a heartless bastard. Actually, since "bastard" back then was a technical term with an actual meaning, let me instead call him a heartless prick. As was nearly everyone else in this period. The book starts out with a nice summary of the various relatives killed by Edward IV. Sure, it's good to be the king, but what Mel Brooks never tells you is that it sucks to be the king's uncle.

The saddest part of the book (aside from the murder of children, I guess) was the part about Princess Elizabeth. My memory of Ian McKellen's "Richard III" led me to believe she was young and hot. While Weir makes sure to mention a foreign ambassador's recollection of her (Elizabeth's) large breasts, she (Weir) also includes plenty of disturbing details of her (Elizabeth's) sexual relationship with her (Elizabeth's) uncle. I guess Elizabeth was as much of a scheming opportunist as her male relatives. In this post-liberation era, it shouldn't surprise anyone that a girl can hold her own with men. It's just so much sadder when the girl is so hot.

Rating: six and a half out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

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