Tuesday, February 24, 2009

THE KING'S DAUGHTER by Sandra Worth


Elizabeth is no Disney princess. She's the daughter of the good King Edward IV and the ambitious Queen Elizabeth (Woodville Grey.) The War of the Roses between the Yorks and the Lancasters has been going on and Princess Elizabeth is of the House of York. The King wants to maintain peace and some sort of justice throughout the land, but has a hard time untangling himself from the Queen's manipulations. Not much love is lost between the two and the King is said to have spawned numerous bastards throughout Britain and half of Europe. However, the more babies the Queen has by the King the better, you know.

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Princess Elizabeth is just a kid when the King betroths her to the next King of France and, of course, the Queen is beside herself with power-hungry joy. She insists on everyone deferring to Elizabeth, even though Elizabeth hates because her many siblings resent her for it. Elizabeth grows up and endures the usual medieval hardships of constant threats to her parents' power, having to spend time in sanctuary for fear of assassination, and threats to force her to marry politically advantageous old farts. As a teen, Elizabeth falls in love, but the boy is only a lowly knight. Having previously accepted her lot that she would one day marry a man not of her choosing, she's not heartsick to realize love will probably never be hers. I mean, doesn't it just gross you out to think of a poor girl having to have sex with a dirty old goat whether she likes it or not? Well, it still happens, unfortunately, in form or another, but it still grosses me out.

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The King's health fails and he whithers away. Just before he dies, he adds a provision to his will to prevent the Queen from seizing power in their young son's name. He proclaims the Duke of Gloucestor regent until their son comes of age. Needless to say, after the King kicks, the Queen spends her time freaking out about the will instead of mourning. Her attempt to seize power despite the dead King's will leads to civil conflict which ends when someone tattles that the Queen's marriage to the dead King wasn't actually legal. The King had been legally betrothed before and that little issue was never properly addressed. The Queen's marriage to the dead King is declared invalid and all their children become bastards. The Queen is ill with rage and fears her sons will be murdered and all that.

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At one point, the new King placates the old Queen with a house in the country and Elizabeth, now a non-princess, is invited to court. Elizabeth becomes friends and lady-in-waiting to the new Queen Anne. After Queen Anne's young son dies, she also becomes ill and whithers away with grief. She tries to make Elizabeth promise to marry the new King after she's gone. And I was going 'iiiicky, he's her uncle.' Things like that happened back in the Dark Ages (and still do sometimes, at the girl's expense) and the Pope would have to be bribed to grant a dispensation for the marriage. Thankfully, the new King loves his wife too much to do such a thing to her, even after her death, and so Elizabeth is still free to wonder about her true love, Thomas. Now that she's no longer a princess, marriage to Thomas is possible. Difficult, but possible.

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Unfortunately, the new King is so grief-stricken over the death of his beloved Queen he goes rather suicidal into battle with an invading usurper, Henry Tudor, who thinks the death of the heir gives him an in. And he's determined to marry Elizabeth to strengthen his claim to the Throne.

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Oh, dang, poor Elizabeth. Told you she wasn't a Disney princess.

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If you remember this is NOT a Historical Romance, you'll enjoy it. There's no glossing over to make it easier for contemporary readers to digest. Nevertheless, the story will engulf you with universal human truths. Love of a good parent, resentment of a selfish one, the need for true love, the desire for happiness, the drive to protect one's family and friends, the hope for one's own destiny.

4 comments:

Michelle Moran said...

Great review, Kimber!

Mfitz said...

Is this novel based on real history? Any idea how accurate it is? I hate when folk pay fast an loose with know history to make for a more modern story angle and that seems to be a fad with Historical novels lately.

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Michelle!

Mfitz, as far as I can remember, it is historically accurate. It's been a while since I read about that time period, however, and, of course, it's called Historical *Fiction* for a reason. I know some Historical authors try to snag readers with contemporary elements, but I didn't see any of that.

Mfitz said...

Good.

I hate when they have people from the 1600's talk like refugees from Disney Channel programs.