Tag Archives: war of the roses

Toby Clements: Broken Faith (Review) + Q&A


Image: Toby Clements Author

Toby Clements lives in London: “It is Clements’s ability to excite both tender emotions and a capacity for bloodthirstiness that has allowed him to achieve what Shakespeare couldn’t manage, and spin a consistently enthralling story out of the Wars of the Roses.”

Broken Faith

(The second book in the Kingmaker series)
A novel by Toby Clements

Buy a Signed copy

Broken Faith

‘An enthralling adventure story, honest and powerful. The Wars of the Roses are imagined here with energy, with ferocity, with hunger to engage the reader.’ Hilary Mantel England: October, 1463. The great slaughter of the battle of Towton is two years past, but England is still not at peace. The Northern Parts of the land remain in the hands of the Lancastrian king, while in the south, the princes of the house of York prepare for war. Uneasy alliances are forged and just as quickly broken: a friend one day might be your enemy the next, and through this land, pursued by the Church and the Law, a young man, Thomas, and a young woman, Katherine, must make their way, bearing proof of a secret both sides would kill to learn. Bent on revenge for a past outrage, Thomas and Katherine must turn their backs on their friends and journey to the mighty castle of Bamburgh, there to join a weakened king as he marshals his army to take up arms in one of the most savage civil wars in history: the Wars of the Roses.


Book two, that terrible, fateful demand on the author, especially on an author who has produced something as exceptional as Winter Pilgrims. Can the author recreate that magic, meet it, and hopefully surpass it?

The beauty of Winter Pilgrims was always in the simplicity, in avoiding the major players as much as possible, or staying on the fringes, but still allowing the horror of the war of the roses to playout in the imagination of the reader.

Broken Faith has to go further, it is by the nature of history forced closer to the major events and players of the period, Its the only way to get our key characters into places like Bamburgh Castle at the right time.

Thomas and Katherine are slowly drawn back together in this book, the shifting perspectives both driving the plot and drawing the reader in. The shifting male and female perspectives so well written, with a keen eye on the differing perspectives and motives. The simplicity remains because this despite its harrowing backdrop and blood drenched landscape is to all intents and purposes a love story, the gradual realisation and coming together of Katherine, who works through her grief to eventually find Thomas again, and Thomas who finally comes back to himself and hunts across the country to track down the woman he needed, and then realised he loved, very hard for a man who had dedicated himself to god.

Behind this love story is also a story of revenge, revenge against the Rivers, the machinations of this family once against at the center of the woes for the King, and also the previous king. Both father and son create the perfect protagonists for Katherine and Thomas, out of their social strata, but also tied by a shared history of desired revenge.

Once again the author provides a monster read, at 464 pages and yet the book glides along effortlessly, its a simple excellent love story, bursting with action, intrigue and history. a real contender for book of the year.

I highly recommend this and cannot wait to see what Toby writes next.




HI Toby, thank you for taking time to answer a few questions:


1) Given that so many authors have said book two is harder than book one to write, what was your experience like?


Hello Robin, and thanks for the interest. Book 2 was much less fun to write than book 1 as you suggest, because there was a deadline, and an editor, and writing it suddenly seemed much more like a job. Book 1 took ages to write, and felt, in retrospect, like a labour of love, something that I thought about privately, like a slightly suspect hobby, but book 2 was very written quickly, to order, and it felt like giving blood, or having it taken, without the moral satisfaction. Having said that, without the editor and the deadline, I would absolutely not have finished it yet, and it would already be a good 1200 pages long. It would have been unbelievably good though!


2) Book one Winter Pilgrims was a truly fantastic book. I hope it was the success it deserved. One of the key elements that made it so great for me was the use and viewpoint of the normal person, away from the key figures in history. Was it a conscious decision to gravitate towards those key figures in book two, or circumstance?


Thanks for that. It did all right, and it was pretty well received, not least because of the slight shift away from those key figures. But you have to start with them. You have to start with the nobs – the Earls of Warwick and so on – since theirs is the only history that is written, and that is what you are taught when you are kid. Can you name 10 people who weren’t dukes etc who lived before 1500?  It is tricky. But I was always interested in The Other, and after reading The Face of Battle, by John Keegan, a brilliant description of a common soldier’s experience in three battles: Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme, which I would press on anyone, I began to find more interest in the lower–status individual generally: not just him – the soldier – but his wife and children, his house, his clothes and so on.  Another reason I drifted away from the nobs, is that they’ve been done to death in fiction, really, and all I’d be bringing that was fresh would have been my voice (about which I was less than sure) and something that would have been self-consciously invented to be different from all the many great novelists to have ploughed this furrow before.


3) There were some fantastic images you shared as part of the research for book one, do you have anything you would like to share for book two?


Hmmm! I have neglected that part of it, really but look, here is a picture of Bamburgh castle in the snow, form the north. Book 2 takes Thomas and Katherine there in 1464, not necessarily the best time to visit.


And I like this, from a longer project to show an infantryman’s clobber throughout the ages:


This is what a very well to do Yorkist man-at-arms might have had with him during the battle of Bosworth – only a few years after the setting for my story. There is something quite touching about it, I think, since we can all imagine ourselves slipping into that gear. Though Jaysus, look at the poll axe!

And because I was researching a quieter moment in the wars, I have been to a hundred re-enactment events, and taken some of my own photos, but none so good as these. I should say that I have no copyright, so if anyone wants me (you to take them down) then I am sure we could do that instantly?

Below are three ladies. Life for the reasonably well off could be quite nice, as this moment shows. There are some lovely details here – look at the way the sleeve of the lady on the left is joined to the body of her dress. It is nothing you could use in a novel, but just knowing it helps you to imagine what it might be like to be Katherine.



And this is a bloke – from the continent somewhere – with a weapon – not sure if it would actually have a name – in what I can imagine pretty typical condition for someone not expecting to have to use it. This is a debate re-enactors often have: should they look after their gear as if it were special to them, or as if it were everyday? And if you were a soldier, would you try to get the best weapon you could, and keep it really sharp, or would that weapon just become something you had to carry around with you, a hassle? If that makes sense?


Finally, a child. I don’t know what he or she is up to, but they don’t get much of a look in, do they, usually? So here’s one.


4) Was it always your intention to write a love story, or was this how the series evolved? 


I have to admit I gravitated toward a more repressed love story, given their – and particularly her – background and upbringing, but my editor was probably right to force me to get them to make hay while the sun shone, which I did. It was tricky, because I had been so graphically matter of fact about the violence, so I felt it would have been dishonest if they then shut the door on us while they got on with it, but trying to describe a medieval sex scene without the use of the word codpiece proved very tricky.


5) Are Katherine and Thomas based on any real people, or just an amalgamation of parts?


They are just made up. I have a theory about writers’ heroes and heroines. A really great storyteller can come up with a hero that is his ideal person, who may be the absolute opposite of him, whereas most writers create heroes who are just slightly exaggerated versions of themselves, so Thomas is the sort of man who when push comes to shove can do most things, as I sort of imagine I’d be able to, but he is also the sort of man who hasn’t a clue what to do on a Sunday. Katherine would always have a plan, hopefully better than visiting Homebase.


6) So what’s next?


Book 3 – the last in the trilogy, and a real corker, I promise, takes us up to the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. That was the battle in the Wars of the Roses that got me hooked, and so I am really looking forward to that one. Everything will come together in a massive, massive dust up, and secrets will be spilled and revelations… revealed.


7) Who are you reading at the moment for fun?

I have been shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown, along with some really stiff opposition, so I have been reading them. It is both inspiring and alarming at the same time, so I am not sure you’d call it fun. But I have also been reading The Last English Poachers, by Bob & Brian Tovey, about a couple of unrepentant villains who shoot deer on the Berkley estates. Oddly, I think I went to school – primary – with Charles Berkley, now Lord Berkley – who was a very nice bloke, who bowled left arm spin, whom I bullied, about which I feel regret, though it is probably misplaced  – so the book has an extra resonance. But it is a great read: really salty, and full of pungent, If not entirely credible, detail.


8) All time fav book / Series?


Hmmm. I have to admit it is the Courtney novels, by Wilbur Smith. I am not sure they would stand re-reading, but they were dynamite when I read them first and in my book 3 there is a little jink in the plot that is in direct homage to the great man himself. I am sick with envy that Giles Kristian is colluding with him, I have to say. Or Perhaps the Patrick O’Brian novels. I have not finished them, and got fed up with the endless exposition that took up increasingly large chunks of each book, and one day I’d love to be given the job of editing them. Robert Hardy reads the abridged audiobook, and that is a real pleasure on long – solo – car journeys.


9) If you could write any one/ or any period regardless of potential sales, what would it be?


I have a slight plan up my sleeve, and I want to keep it there for superstitious reasons, but if it comes off, and out, it will involve two of my current yearnings in life: sailing and carpentry. I can see that does not answer your question at all, and sounds only 50 % promising at most, but if I talk about it, I will jinx it (and the man who gave me the idea will sue).


Many thanks… and best of luck with this next book, it really is another brilliant read.



1. Winter Pilgrims (2014)
2. Broken Faith (2015)
The Asti Spumante Code: A Parody (2005)
The No.2 Global Detective (2006)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Toby Clements

Conn Iggulden: Trinity (The second book in the Wars of the Roses series) Review


Author web site

Bio (in the authors own words)

I was born in the normal way in 1971, and vaguely remember half-pennies and sixpences. I have written for as long as I can remember: poetry, short stories and novels. It’s what I always wanted to do and read English at London University with writing in mind. I taught English for seven years and was Head of English at St. Gregory’s RC High School in London by the end of that period. I have enormous respect for those who still labour at the chalk-face. In truth, I can’t find it in me to miss the grind of paperwork and initiatives. I do miss the camaraderie of the smokers’ room, as well as the lessons where their faces lit up as they understood what I was wittering on about.

My mother is Irish and from an early age she told me history as an exciting series of stories – with dates. My great-grandfather was a Seannachie, so I suppose story-telling is in the genes somewhere. My father flew in Bomber Command in WWII, then taught maths and science. Perhaps crucially, he also loved poetry and cracking good tales. Though it seems a dated idea now, I began teaching when boys were told only girls were good at English, despite the great names that must spring to mind after that statement. My father loved working with wood and equations, but he also recited ‘Vitai Lampada’ with a gleam in his eye and that matters, frankly.

I’ve always loved historical fiction as a genre and cut my teeth on Hornblower and Tai-Pan, Flashman, Sharpe and Jack Aubrey. I still remember the sheer joy of reading my first Patrick O’Brian book and discovering there were nineteen more in the series. I love just about anything by David Gemmell, or Peter F. Hamilton or Wilbur Smith. I suppose the one thing that links all those is the love of a good tale.

That’s about it for the moment. If you’d like to get in touch with me leave a comment in the forum or you can tweet me @Conn_Iggulden. I’ll leave it there for the moment. If you’ve read my books, you know an awful lot about the way I think already. There’s no point overdoing it.

Conn Iggulden



(The second book in the Wars of the Roses series)
A novel by Conn Iggulden

The brilliant retelling of the Wars of the Roses continues with Trinity, the second gripping novel in the new series from historical fiction master, Conn Iggulden.

1454: King Henry VI has remained all but exiled in Windsor Castle, struck down by his illness for over a year, his eyes vacant, his mind a blank.

His fiercely loyal wife and Queen, Margaret of Anjou, safeguards her husband’s interests, hoping that her son Edward will one day know the love of his father.

Richard Duke of York, Protector of the Realm, extends his influence throughout the kingdom with each month that Henry slumbers. The Earls of Salisbury and Warwick make up a formidable trinity with Richard, and together they seek to break the support of those who would raise their colours in the name of Henry and his Queen.

But when the King unexpectedly recovers his senses and returns to London to reclaim his throne, the balance of power is once again thrown into turmoil.

The clash of the Houses of Lancaster and York will surely mean a war to tear England apart . . .

Following on from Stormbird, Trinity is the second epic instalment in master storyteller Conn Iggulden’s new Wars of the Roses series. Fans of Game of Thrones and The Tudors will be gripped from the word go.

Praise for Stormbird:

‘Pacey and juicy, and packed with action’ Sunday Times

‘Energetic, competent stuff; Iggulden knows his material and his audience’ Independent

‘A novel that seamlessly combines narrative, historical credence and great knowledge of the period’ Daily Express

‘A page-turning thriller’ Mail on Sunday

‘Superbly plotted and paced’ The Times

Conn Iggulden is one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today. Following on fromStormbird, the Sunday Times best-seller, Trinity is the second book in his superb new series set during the Wars of the Roses, a remarkable period of British history. His previous two series, on Julius Caesar and on the Mongol Khans of Central Asia, describe the founding of the greatest empires of their day and were number one bestsellers. Conn Iggulden lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and children.


I often find that if you ask an Iggulden fan what their favorite book is, there is a clear divide between those who love the Emperor series and those who love the Conqueror series. You can be a fan of all the books, but that draw to preference usually goes to one series.  As a fan of his books since the very first, back in 2002, i have put some thought into this before and think its to do with the restriction of history.

Conn is a brilliantly natural story teller, of the type that if born before the modern age would have made his way in life travelling from town to town, city to city telling tales, or even as a master story teller in a royal palace. Anyone who has met him will have experienced the presence he brings to a room, one i find he brings to the fore in the conqueror series more than the emperor one. Why? Because he can let free reign to his imagination, and his experiences from travelling the Mongolian steppes. The emperor series, and now the War of the Roses constrains that imagination with the wealth of history that exists, the sheer volume of detail and information that the author has to be bound to or be crucified by the reading history buffs.

Despite that, I think Conn tackles the story in a brilliant fashion, while i enjoyed book one immensely, Trinity feels more mature, rounded. For a while i almost had to check that it was really was written by Conn Iggulden, the style felt different, older, more mature. The cast of players from history are expanded on, filling our idea of who they are and why, who the good guy is and who the bad guy is in the war of the roses, and then WHAM! in the very next chapter the preconceptions he has let you build, he tears down, and you mentally shift allegiance over and over again, until your head is spinning, and you realise the sheer complexity and scale of the conflict. That there were no simple bad guys, just people caught up in the events of history, their inadequacies, old feuds and building/ retaining family titles and lands.

I savored this book over a whole week, it wanted me to power through it in a couple of sittings, but i deliberately drew it out, teasing out the enjoyment, the pain, the betrayals, the reversal of fortune, the ecstasy of victory, the bitter pill of defeat, the horror of war, the stress of battle, the knowledge of defeat and the heroism of surrender rather than dogged resistance ending with the ultimate and futile death of thousands. This truly is an epic book in whats shaping up to be an epic series showing why Conn Iggulden holds the title as “one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today”.

I don’t know that this will replace my favorite book by Conn Iggulden, because Wolf of the Plains is a truly special story. What i do know is that its a very very close second, and an absolute must buy.


Very Highly recommend this one


1. The Gates of Rome (2002)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War (omnibus) (2012)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
The Gates of RomeThe Death of KingsThe Field of SwordsThe Gods of WarThe Blood of GodsGates of Rome / Death of KingsEmperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of WarThe Emperor Series Books 1-5
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Wolf of the PlainsLords of the BowBones of the HillsEmpire of SilverConquerorThe Khan SeriesConqueror Series 5-Book Bundle
1. Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)
Tollins: Explosive Tales for ChildrenDynamite Tales
Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
2. Trinity (2014)
Blackwater (2006)
Fig Tree (2014)
BlackwaterFig Tree
Series contributed to
Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed (2012)
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra
Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There(2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun (2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World (2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for BoysThe Dangerous Book for Boys YearbookThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to DoThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get ThereThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature FunThe Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and FunThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to KnowThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the WorldThe Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Dangerous Book of Heroes

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Filed under Conn Iggulden, Historical Fiction

Conn Iggulden: War of the Roses: Stormbird (review)



Conn Iggulden taught English for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. He is married with four children and lives in Hertfordshire, England.

Book Description


Buy a signed copy

Buy an exclusive Limited edition

Historical fiction master Conn Iggulden retells the gripping story of the English civil war in his new Wars of the Roses series.

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?

The Wars of the Roses series will be a benchmark for historical fiction, showcasing Conn Iggulden at his finest.


I have come to have some very high expectations for any book that Conn Iggulden produces, he is as I have described in the past a “natural story teller”. I’m lucky to have met the man many times, he is one of those people who commands a room with his presence. Not with arrogance or volume, just with his natural ability with a story, to make you feel like the only one in the room being spoken to. His books have that same effect, they talk to you and you alone, written for you and you alone.

Unlike the boisterous, violent affairs that are the emperor series or the Genghis series, Stormbird is a more of a story of families, of alliances made and broken, of subtle politics and deadly schemes of rebellion and action. There are some brilliant scenes of war that would be expected in any Iggulden novel, and some archer friends of mine I think will be very happy with his portrayal of the deadly English archer.

The War of the Roses is something that many of my generation touched upon at school, but like many it was butchered by poor syllabus and a teacher who didn’t love his subject. Give a classroom of kids a teacher like Conn (who was a teacher) and an education brought to life in the same way as this book brings the early stages of the War of the Roses to life, and you will have a country immersed in a passion for its own past. I had to deliberately slow my reading to savour every page, every paragraph, to experience the intrigue of the spymaster, the fear and exhilaration of a new young queen, the confusion of a sick king, the plotting of an ambitious Duke, the rebellion and fury of a public owed so much more by its king and nobility. This book is packed with so much passion, so much information and so many great characters that it inundates the mind and wraps you in another time.

very highly recommended, one of my favourite books this year.


More great Iggulden magic

1. The Gates of Rome (2003)
2. The Death of Kings (2004)
3. The Field of Swords (2004)
4. The Gods of War (2006)
5. The Blood of Gods (2013)
Gates of Rome / Death of Kings (omnibus) (2009)
Emperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War (omnibus) (2012)
The Emperor Series Books 1-5 (omnibus) (2013)
The Gates of RomeThe Death of KingsThe Field of SwordsThe Gods of WarThe Blood of GodsGates of Rome / Death of KingsEmperor: The Gates of Rome / The Death of Kings / The Field of Swords / The Gods of War
1. Wolf of the Plains (2007)
aka Genghis: Birth of an Empire
2. Lords of the Bow (2008)
aka Genghis: Lords of the Bow
3. Bones of the Hills (2008)
4. Empire of Silver (2010)
aka Khan: Empire of Silver
5. Conqueror (2011)
Conqueror and Lords of the Bow (omnibus) (2009)
The Khan Series (omnibus) (2012)
Conqueror Series 5-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Wolf of the PlainsLords of the BowBones of the HillsEmpire of SilverConquerorThe Khan SeriesConqueror Series 5-Book Bundle
1. Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children (2009)
2. Dynamite Tales (2011) (with Lizzy Duncan)
Tollins: Explosive Tales for ChildrenDynamite Tales
Quick Reads 2012
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra (2012)
Quantum of Tweed: The Man with the Nissan Micra
Wars of the Roses
1. Stormbird (2013)
Blackwater (2006)
Non fiction
The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Yearbook (2007) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get There (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature Fun (2008)
The Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar(2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and Fun(2008)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Know (2008)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the World(2008) (with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day Calendar (2009)(with Hal Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book of Heroes (2009) (with David Iggulden)
The Dangerous Book for BoysThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to DoThe Dangerous Book for Boys YearbookThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: How to Get ThereThe Dangerous Book for Boys Kit: Nature FunThe Dangerous Book for Boys: 2009 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Facts, Figures and FunThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to KnowThe Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Wonders of the WorldThe Dangerous Book for Boys 2010 Day-to-Day CalendarThe Dangerous Book of Heroes

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Filed under Historical Fiction