The Sunne in Splendour By Sharon Kay Penman

Download The Sunne in Splendour


Sharon Kay Penman is a top class writer and is on my short list of favourite authors of historical fiction. This magnificent book 'The Sunne in Splendour' centres around the life and times of Richard III and his Yorkist family. Without question it is a huge read. It is the first book of hers I bought years ago and was utterly asorbed by it (1229 pages) Richard III has always fascinated me as an historical figure. The discovery of his bones in recent times lead to much interest among all those who consider him innocent of the murder of his two young nephews while imprisoned in the Tower of London and of course a similar amount of interest from among those who consider him a ruthless and evil murderer. The truth will probably never be known because of the unreliability of historians who wrote from the point of view of the King who hired them.

Arguments for and against his guilt have gone on over the centuries and the discovery of his bones caused an uprise in these arguments and an upsurge of books both non fiction and historical fiction. Sadly; Richard was inevitably portrayed as evil and unscrupulous in the records of Henry Tudor's own historians who condemned him outright as the killer. Shakespeare's prejudiced play 'Richard III was an enormous help towards the case for him being guilty. There have been many books written about Richard III over the years. The author Josephine Tey wrote a much smaller book entitled 'Daughter of Time' which is in the form of a most original detective novel searching for proof among the evidence available as to whether Richard was guilty or not. I found her book well worth a read. It is fiction, but anyone interested in this centuries old mystery and who favours Richard's innocence would find it well worth a read. Richard was portrayed by his own historians as a warrior, a man of great courage and strong principles and a family man who was uncomfortable among the intrigues that went on in his brother, the charismatic King Edward IV's Court. He is said to have loved his brother deeply as different as they were and was intensely loyal to him. Henry Tudor also had valid reasons to have the two young princes murdered but these reasons were obviously underplayed by his historians, so over the centuries Richard is the one blamed for the death of the Princes in the Tower.

Sharon Kay Penman is well known by fans of the historical novel as her research is always meticulous but she always weaves a fascinating fictional story around the facts. Her book 'Here be Dragons' is my favourite of her historical novels, but this superb story of Richard III comes a close second. I have read this book a few times and recently did so again. I recommend it highly without hesitation. Historical Fiction, Mystery 3.5★

Ms Penman sadly died of pneumonia earlier this year, so the Retro Reads Group decided to read this as a tribute to her. Most of the group loved this book. I also loved it - in parts.

Let me explain.

This book was always going to be a challenge for me as I generally like my fiction to come in at under 450 pages and this was a whopping 886 pages. I applaud Ms Penman's dedication & determination in recreating this after her original (much shorter) manuscript was stolen from her car, but I think this would have worked better as a two volume series. I did find that portions of Part Three dragged and that towards the end of Part Two Anne Neville & Richard's love story became a bit sickly - just a bit!

But; Penman gave Edward the IV's character a lot of complexity. Like most real life people sometimes there was just no way to explain some of his actions & Penman does find solutions for some of them.

I loved the way Jane Shore was depicted - Jane lit up the pages whenever she appeared (I just kept thinking of Cyndi Lauper & Girls Just Want to Have Fun)

It could really be that simple that Shore was a nice, generous woman who loved sex and wanted to enjoy life. I would love to read a book where Jane was the central character if anyone has a recommendation. (other than Mistress to the Crown - couldn't get through that one)

Where the book did fall down for me was that some of the characters were a little too black and white. Unfortunately that includes Edward the IV's wife, the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville

(If this portrait by an unknown artist is accurate, Elizabeth must have been stunning!)

& his beloved & trusted brother Richard. In fact almost all the Woodvilles are shown as uniformly evil. This becomes a bit much. Richard, on the other hand, is almost saintly, other than when he (allegedly) had his former close ally Hastings beheaded without a trial. I almost welcomed this gruesome action to show Richard as having some human feelings.

The ending for Richard III & his close ally, Humphrey Stafford is the stuff of nightmares, but those were indeed cruel times.

When I give a rating of 3.5★ it means I liked the book enough to read more by the author and that is how I feel about this book! We will have to see if I can cope with the Middle Ages brutality. Historical Fiction, Mystery This is one of my top five favourite historical fiction novels of all time!
What makes Sharon Penman's historical novels set in medieval Britain so amazing is how they combine sticking quite close to historical facts, with making a thrilling read enjoyable to modern readers, together with an engaging cast of characters.
This novel documents English Civil War and the life of Richard of Gloucester from the age of seven in 1459 until his death through treachery at The Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
We get to read about Richard and his brothers the reflective and scrupulous Edmund, the charming and impetuous Edward, and the reckless conniving George.
After reading of the devastation rendered on England by the ruthless and malign Queen Marguerite de Anjou , consort to the pious and half mad weakling Henry VI, we experience the execution and desecration of Richard's father the Duke of York and his oldest son Edmund by Marguerite and the malicious Earl of Somerset. Richard's mother Cecily is a deeply religious women with endless strength of character and forbearance - she suffers many losses as we see through the novel.
The feud between the cynical and vengeful master power broker Richard Neville , Earl of Warwick (who aligns with his erstwhile archenemy Marguerite of Anjou) and Edward of York after Edward weds the ambitious and magnificently beautiful Elizabeth Woodville, eventually leads to the death of Warwick and the total defeat of the forces of Lancaster at the Battle of Barnet.
Edward's rule is a period of peace and security in England at the time, though his dissolute court and his many mistresses certainly suggest a man of decadence His Queen Elizabeth Woodville and her hated family irk both Richard and his treacherous bother George Duke of Clarence
George earns Richard's hatred by his incarceration of Richard's great love of his life Anne Neville, daughter of Earl Warwick.
We journey through Richard's rescue of Anne, and George's imprisonment and death because of his knowledge of claims of King Edward's earlier marriage which makes his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville illicit and his children 'bastards'
Elizabeth Woodville is ambitious and ruthless in the extreme, but one cal also see in her actions a determination to protect at all costs the welfare and fortunes of her children.
There is a vast cast of character in this magnificent evocative novel. Sharon Penman shows not only a brilliant grasp of the history of England at the time but also a absolutely penetrating perception of human nature
It is the way she threads this epic together with never a dull moment, full of adventure and romance, intrigue and heartbreak, while never departing from the known historical facts that makes this a masterpiece.
The last part of the novel covers Richard's ill fated reign after Edward IV's death, his seizure of the crown which he sees as being for the good of England, and of course the fate of Edward IV's sons Edward V and Richard, 'the princes in the tower' Richard aims to protect the boys and give them security and comfort in new lodgings but is thwarted by the treacherous Duke of Buckingham , Henry Stafford, who in this narrative is the man who during his rebellion against Richard has the boys murdered.
The book also encapsulates one of my favourite women of English history, Edward's mistress and the 'merriest whore in court' the good natured and sexually adventurous Jane Shore. One thing I did not like seeing Richard do to her was her penance of being marched throgh London clad only in her kirtle and holding a taper, as a humiliating penance , But the support the people of London is heartwarming as is the happy ending to her story as she is rescued from Ludgate Prison by the King's Solicitor General, Thomas Lynom, who Richard reluctantly agrees to let wed her.
Haunting and heartrending is Richard's great love for his Queen Anne, and the death of fist their son Prince Edward and then of consumption of Anne herself and the terrible torment suffered by Richard therein
Richard is presented as a thoughtful noble and valiant man , a man of chivalry and altruism , loved greatly in England's North He is anything but the deformed and evil murderous villain painted by Tudor propagandists and made famous by Shakespeare's play Richard III.
The novel proceeds to the Battle of Bosworth which would have seen Richard defeat and kill the invader, the conniving and unscrupulous Henry Tudor if he were not betrayed by Lord Stanley.
The novel comes to a close with Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville's daughter Princess Elizabeth of York (Bess) , who was Richard's must loved niece and a great admirer of his, being forced to marry Henry Tudor (now Henry VII) which she agrees to do for the peace of the realm
And ends with Bess about o give birth to England's heir, discussing with her half-sister Grace, how Richard's name will be sullied by Tudor's propaganda and wishing history would remember him as he really was
The novel is epic and haunting and one in which you will read again and again. It will be enjoyed by all afficionadoes of good literature, and not only history buffs like myself. Historical Fiction, Mystery The Sunne in Splendour, Sharon Kay Penman

The Sunne in Splendour is a historical novel about life of Richard III written by Sharon Kay Penman.

The story begins in 1459 with Richard as a young boy, and ends in 1485 with his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

When their father is killed, Richard's older brother Edward leads the House of York to victory and becomes king as Edward IV.

Edward dies prematurely at age 40, and Richard becomes the Protector of the Realm for Edward's sons, Edward and Richard.

Richard learns of Edward's previous secret marriage, which makes Edward's marriage to the boys' mother, Elizabeth Woodville, illegal.

Edward's children are therefore illegitimate, and Richard is the rightful heir to the throne.

Elizabeth's brother, Anthony, Lord Rivers, plots to crown young Edward without Richard's knowledge. Richard has no choice but to end his protector-ship and assume the throne.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش

عنوان: سنت در شکوه و جلال (زندگی ریچارد سوم)؛ نویسنده: شارون کای پنمن؛ موضوع داستانهای تاریخی از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

سنت در شکوه و جلال، زندگینامه ی «ریچارد سوم» و پر از دیدنیها، و صداهای جنگ در آن روزهاست، آداب و رسوم و زندگی روزمره، و سیاست است، احساسات و خیانتهای افراد بالا نشین، و نگرانیهای مردان و زنان واقعی است

ریچارد سوم (زادروز دوم ماه اکتبر سال 1452میلادی – درگذشت روز بیست و دوم ماه اوت سال 1485میلادی)، پادشاه «انگلستان» (از روز بیست و دوم ماه ژوئن سال 1483میلادی تا روز بیست و دوم ماه اوت سال 1485میلادی)، پسر «ریچارد پلانتاجنت»، دوک «یورک» بود؛ بدنبال کشته شده فرزندان «ادوارد چهارم» که او قیم آنان بود، ریچارد سوم سلطنتی توأم با کشتار و وحشت ایجاد کرد، و در نبرد «بازورث فیلد» توسط «هنری تیودور (تودور)» کشته شد؛ «ریچارد سوم» را آخرین پادشاه «بریتانیا» در سده های میانی میلادی می‌دانند؛ با مرگ او در «جنگ سی‌سالهٔ رزها»، سلسله ی «پلانتاجنت» پس از سیصد و سی و یک سال منقرض شد، و سلسله ی «تودور» به قدرت رسیدند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/03/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی Historical Fiction, Mystery The story evolves around Edward IV and Richard III (and lots of other characters) with a plot so rich, you could be forgiven in thinking that it is pure fiction. Simply too involved to summarize here; my reactions/comment follow.

With a novel this lengthy, you really need a hearty liking of Tudor based stories. I didn't realize that I had so enjoyed Richard III's story until the last 50 pages or so, when I found I had deliberately slowed my reading because I simply did not want to come to the end. Although tethered in 2014 and well aware of historical facts, I dreaded the final moments enacted at Bosworth (Redmore Plains); felt a sickening fear for Richard's fate.

I found I genuinely liked Richard whereas before I had harboured a vague distaste for this man rumored to have stolen the crown. Shakespeare, you should be ashamed of the spread of misinformation you have participated in! Read Ms Penman's novel and learn of a fact based contrasting view of this much pilloried monarch.

What a triumphant debut; I can scarcely believe this is Penman's first book! It is a glorious novel, one that is not filled with the histrionics that are often found in other books of this genre. A stunning achievement by Ms Penman. Most Highly Recommended. 5★

Historical Fiction, Mystery

A glorious novel of the controversial Richard III---a monarch betrayed in life by his allies and betrayed in death by history.

In this beautifully rendered modern classic, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III---vilified as the bitter, twisted, scheming hunchback who murdered his nephews, the princes in the Tower---from his maligned place in history with a dazzling combination of research and storytelling. 

Born into the treacherous courts of fifteenth-century England, in the midst of what history has called The War of the Roses, Richard was raised in the shadow of his charismatic brother, King Edward IV. Loyal to his friends and passionately in love with the one woman who was denied him, Richard emerges as a gifted man far more sinned against than sinning. 

This magnificent retelling of his life is filled with all of the sights and sounds of battle, the customs and lore of the fifteenth century, the rigors of court politics, and the passions and prejudices of royalty. The Sunne in Splendour

Richard was utterly surrounded by Stanley soldiers, hemmed in on all sides. He’d lost his axe, was lashing out with his sword, gripping it with both hands and swinging in like a scythe as more and more men fought with each other to get close enough to strike him, beating against his armour, with mace and halberd In a frenzy of fear and rage, White Surrey was going up again and Francis saw a pike thrust go into the animal’s unprotected belly. The stallion screamed in agony and crashed heavily to earth, dragging Richard down, too. Stanley’s men closed in.

Writing historical fiction about a dynastic struggle, the Wars of the Roses, that’s outcome is well known is a risky business. I’m sure that any reader who would pick up this mighty tome, that chronicles the life of Richard III, would know the ending that history dictates. Indeed, the author had more work to do because of this; she had to take a well know ending and make it interesting, and effectively breathe new life into it. A twelve hundred page novel is a rather large reading investment, nobody wants to get halfway through and abandon it, so this book had to be marvellous from the beginning; it had to be splendid, and it was. It really was.

The novel starts with a seven year old Richard and ends with his defeat at the field of Bosworth; it is an entire chronicle of his life. At the beginning a very young Richard has just received news that his father, Richard Duke of York, has been defeated in battle; his head has been cut off and decorated with a paper crown by Margret of Anjou the wife of King Henry VI. This is a low point for the house of York as Lancaster temporarily triumphs over its foe. Edward, Earl of March, promptly picks up the torch dropped by his farther and carries on the struggle, except this time it’s about more than just power: he wants revenge.

This leads to another chapter in the wars of the roses. Richard’s soldering life, and later his kingship, is filled with dynastic battles that attempt to establish and reassert his house, York, as the rulers of England over the house of Lancaster. From this early on Richard’s fate is asserted; he will naturally follow his eldest brother, Edward IV, to revenge upon the defeat of his father and the dishonour committed against his body.

Richard admires his brother; he looks up to him and respects him .He is fiercely loyal to him unlike George, the middle York brother, who is jealous of Edward being the first son. George, Duke of Clarence, is the favourite of his mother, and to make thing worse he loves Richard. This leaves Richard in the middle of sibling rivalry. This is asserted in just the first chapter and asserts the strained relationship between the brothers of York, and superbly foreshadows the eventual rivalries and betrayals that occur later on in the novel.

The novelist is deeply loyal to the house of York: she portrays Richard III as a noble king rather than Shakespeare’s hunchbacked villain. Certainly, Richard has been presented as a man of honour and adherent to the code of chivalry , but he is not without his flaws. He is somewhat naïve and rash to make decisions, which the novelist translates to his political blunders made in his kingship, such as trusting the traitorous Duke of Buckingham and executing the loyal Will Hastings.

He is often referred to, by his mother, as the only son of York with a conscience. Indeed, Penman’s Richard would have been incapable of murdering his brother’s sons, the princes in the tower, because he is just too good. Whether he did or not is for the historians to argue about, but I love this novelist interpretation of him: I too would like to think he did not kill his nephews and that the Duke of Buckingham was responsible.

As I said at the beginning of my review, the ending of this book is well known. It is obvious that a novel chronicling his life must end at the field of Bosworth. Consequently, the author had to create a Richard that was compelling enough to make the reader want to reach the ending of this massive volume. And she did. She really did. Penman’s envisioning of Richard is that of a tragic character who was honourable and just, but just made a series of bad political moves that, consequently, ended in betrayal and his own demise. This resulted in a death that was dramtic and emotional

Historical Fiction, Mystery I've become hooked on Richard III. We all know what he's accused of, but until recently, I've never given much thought to his defence. After reading various accounts of him and his contemporaries, I've realised that history, based on Tudor propaganda, could have very badly betrayed him.

The Sunne In Splendour covers his entire life from the age of about 7. In a 900 page book, the first third read like an increasingly interesting history lesson, but then the more personal story-telling side kicked in and it became engrossing.

The author has clearly done an amazing amount of detailed research into Richard's life. Whilst I suspect she over-romanticises him at times, she reasons well. She portrays him as a loyal man, a trusted brother, a beloved husband and a skilled leader on the battlefield. From what I've read elsewhere, this seems a very believable view of him. Her account of the missing princes mystery, the key point for his portrayal in history, is both logical and believable.

She brings Richard to life so vividly, and I was moved by his death, I mourned him. I actually feel very riled that history may have got him horribly wrong.

This is the best historical fiction book I've read to date; a fascinating, detailed and thought-provoking look at one of Englands most controversial men. I am most definitely on his side! Historical Fiction, Mystery this goes straight to favorites. Historical Fiction, Mystery This was Penman's first novel and still one of my favorites. A little trivia: she actually hand wrote a good deal of this novel, lost it and then started all over again. That's commitment! SUNNE traces the life of Richard III, breaking it into three sections of this 800+ page novel:

PART ONE sheds light on that confusing Historical time known as the Wars of the Roses (back in the day I never got it until I read this piece). For those who never truly understood it, you will get a better grasp from this flowery novel. The Wars of the Roses was basically one of cousins who were all descended from an ancestor king. Add a weak king to the pot and we have a civil war.

Anyway, during that period, we get to see a very young Richard and the many relatives he lost to the early Wars of the Roses. Major players such as Richard's older brother, Ned (i.e. future Edward IV), are revealed as are the monk-like, insane King Harry (Henry VI), as well as his wife, Margerite Anjou . . and let us not forget Richard Neville, the Kingmaker, who at one point during his life, held two different English kings captive. During this section, Ned eventually prevails for the Yorks and becomes King Edward IV. Immediately, he has a clash of wills with his cousin, Richard Neville, and this sets up the scenario for . . .

PART TWO:where Edward IV takes the throne and immediately unsettles everyone by marrying into the Woodville family, taking Elizabeth as his queen. Unfortunately for everyone, the Queen has a poor personality compared to her ravishing beauty, which creates a number of conflicts. Richard, who is heaped with honors, is not comfortable in court nor are the Neville Family, as well as many other allies. Edward IV keeps them all from killing each other and also puts up with more Lancastrian attempts to seize the throne, as well as an eventual civil war with his Neville cousins, and his very antagonist brother, George, Duke of Clarence. George also makes life hell for Richard's love interest, Ann Neville, but, in the end, Ann and Richard are married. Continuing friction grows on all sides as Ann sees that Richard is overlooking the flaws of his brother, Edward IV.

PART THREE: follows us as Edward IV's reign spirals downward. His ailing health and his methods to contain a very sensitive secret force him to not only slay mad King Harry but his brother, George, as well. Of course, other reasons are used but that's another story. In the end though, Edward IV's lifestyle catches up with him, leaving his kingdom in an upheaval. Richard III is appointed as the protectorate of the realm until Edward's son comes of age, but, in truth, the queen and her people do not trust him. Civil war is averted when Richard captures the heir to the throne but even then, things are going badly. Richard loses his one blood son and his allies begin to turn on him. Worse, In the end, Richard loses his wife, feels he is cursed and takes a number of risky measures when a distant Lancastrian pretender to the throne (i.e. future Tudor dynasty) challenges him on the battlefield. Through betrayal and circumstances, Richard III is slain and the Plantaganet line dies out with him.

After re-reading many of Penman's novels I have to say that this is still my favorite. Unusual that a first book is written well enough to be comparable or better than later books but there you have it. Penman's writing strengths are in her vivid descriptions, her real and varied characters, her build up of conflict and conclusions and, of course, let us not forget that her love stories are pretty good, too.

Overall, this is sterling silver quality, so read it right away. Fans of George Martin's A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE should know a good chunk of this historical period influenced him greatly (per some online interviews GRRM did).

STORY/PLOTTING: A minus to A; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: A; HISTORICAL ACCURACY: A minus to A; ACTION & WAR SCENES: A minus; WHEN READ: 2003 (third reading) (revised review in March 2012; then later in early October 2012); OVERALL GRADE: A minus to A.

Historical Fiction, Mystery Some historical spoilers in this review

Wow. It's not often historical fiction drastically changes my view of what actually happened in history. Change my perspective? Yes. But have me questioning whether the commonly-held view of what happened is incorrect? Not so much. Here Penman makes a very compelling case for Richard III's innocence.

I now really look forward to reading Penman's Afterwords, where she admits the limitations of her research, explains why she told the story the way she did, and lays out the evidence for or against certain ideas that have trickled down through the centuries. In her Afterword for this book, she stacks up the available evidence and shows some quite tremendous gaps in logic if we are to continue believing Richard III committed all the crimes he is charged with by history. I felt quite disturbed after finishing The Sunne in Splendour, and quite convinced that a loyal brother and good man was deliberately disparaged by his enemies. Fuck Henry Tudor.

Honestly, I'm not sure how widely this is known around the world outside of Britain and small circles of Shakespeare fans, but Richard III has been repeatedly portrayed as a grotesque villain. Historical fact has been distorted to portray him as born under a bad sign and hunchbacked (this was regarded as a sign of a corrupt soul in Europe at the time, though no contemporary accounts of Richard's appearance note a disfigurement other than a mild scoliosis). He is seen as a man who murdered his brother's children and seized the crown for himself. It's funny, though, how such a view grew in popularity under the man who defeated him-- Henry VII.

The disappearance - and assumed murder - of the Princes in the Tower is a mystery that has never been solved, but the popular opinion is that Richard III had them killed to place himself on the throne. As Penman shows, however, this actually makes no sense. Richard III was crowned king while the princes were still very much alive. He was crowned because their parents' marriage was deemed bigamous. He gained nothing from their deaths.

So who did have motive? Well, the man looking to overthrow Richard and legitimize his own claim to the throne. Henry Tudor. Who had opportunity? Lord Buckingham-- the man who appointed the guards in charge of watching the boys and the man who later betrayed Richard and fought for Henry.

But let's go back. Let's argue Richard might have had motive because he wanted to remove any chance of an uprising from the delegitimatized youngsters. What, then, of his track record, his personality? Contemporary accounts portray a man steadfast and loyal to his brother Edward, a man loved by the people he oversaw in Yorkshire, a man who had never sought lands and personal gains, a man who had introduced legal reform, founding the Court of Requests so that poor people could obtain legal representation.

I'm very moved and unnerved by this book, in case you couldn't tell. Penman convinced me with her account, and I then went to do some more outside reading on Richard to get a balanced view of the facts. I know they say history is written by the victors, but I was quite shook to have such a stark reminder of it here.

This is not just a 900-page debate on Richard's guilt, though. It's an epic life story, that follows young Richard through unbelievable horrors and loss, through political backstabbing and betrayals, and then an older Richard through the deaths of virtually everyone he held dear. Penman seems to suggest that when Richard III rode out into battle against Henry Tudor at Bosworth field, he was going out to die.

We will likely never know exactly what happened more than 500 years ago, but whether Richard was guilty or not, this book shows one thing for certain: the evidence against him was minimal, and arguably nonexistent. No jury worth their salt would have been able to convict him. Yet the masses have again and again. A disquieting thought. Historical Fiction, Mystery