Tag Archives: wars of the roses


AClashOfKingsThe King is dead and chaos reigns. Sitting on the Iron Throne is the vicious boy-king Joffrey, ruled over by his ambitious, ruthless, amoral and disquietingly beautiful mother Queen Cersei. But many do not accept the boy-kings rule, and six other rulers rise to claim their place, including the Stark heir Robb.


This volume opens with the flight of Princess Arya Stark, pretending to be the boy ‘Arry, and ends with…but that would spoil the suspense, so I won’t tell you that.


As I mentioned in my last review, there are echoes of the Wars of the Roses in these volumes. Joffrey is as vicious as Edouard of Lancaster, the heir to the Lancaster cause and son of the ruthless and arrogant Queen Marguerite of Anjou. Who his father was, was something that no-one was really sure of (as in Joffrey’s case), but the betting was that it was Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset rather than King Henry VI.


What is so wonderful about this book is the accrual of detail that makes the lives of these characters so real, and by extension the world of that long-vanished past of the 15th-century real as well. Most second novels are extremely disappointing. This is just as wonderful as the first. Five stars.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Review


A_GameOfThronesI came to A GAME OF THRONES because I read (and write) historical novels set during the Wars of the Roses, so I wanted to see what this writer of epic fantasy would do to the material. I was pleasantly surprised to find that George R. R. Martin (I’ll refer to him as GRRM) didn’t slavishly follow the historical events, making this a refreshing read.

Yes, I got that the Starks stand in for the Yorks (I guess Cateleyn is based on Lady Cecylee Neville, Duchess of York), and that the Lannisters stand in for the Lancasters. But everything has been mixed up, so that Robert Baratheon, who most resembles King Edward IV, is married to his greatest enemy Marguerite of Anjou (the Lancastrian Queen). Or perhaps Cersei Lannister is based upon his actual wife Elisabeth Woodville? Which makes Jaime Lannister what? Sir Anthony Woodville?

Anyway, you get the idea. It’s not easy to fit the actual history to this story, which gives GRRM a lot more freedom to develop his characters how he pleases.

For a book with the requisite plot twists and turns, it was a pleasant surprise to read such wonderfully poetic prose. Here is an example of what I mean. We are in Catelyn Stark’s head as she rides with her son and his army to cross the river at Riverrun:

“They crossed at evenfall as a horned moon floated upon the river. The double column wound its way though the gate of the eastern twin like a great steel snake, slithering across the courtyard into the keep and over the bridge, to issue forth once more from the second castle on the west bank. Catelyn rode at the head of the serpent, with her son and her uncle…”

Look at all those strong verbs: “crossed,” “floated,” “wound,” “slithering,” “issue forth,” “rode.” And how poetic the language is, with “evenfall” and “horned moon.” It is just enough to give a whiff of the Middle Ages without overdoing it. This long book, which I believe is about 700 pages (my iPad doesn’t tell me), kept me royally entertained for a week. If you have a boring plane journey ahead of you and this sort of thing grabs your attention, get it for your iPad. Five stars.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Review

BLOOD & ROSES by Helen Castor

Blood&RosesHardbackBlood&RosePaperbackIf you want a vivid portrayal of England during the Wars of the Roses, you should read this book.

Helen Castor has done a wonderful job of putting the Paston Letters into context, both historical and familial, so that in reading this book it is not only clear what is happening in England during the struggle between various noble families and the King of England, but how this impacted people like the Pastons, who were powerless when England degenerated into chaos, and greedy neighbors seized their lands.

In this readable book, you will meet the Pastons, and enjoy learning about their exploits as their vivid personalities dance off the page. Highly recommended. Five Stars. A bookclub recommendation.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Review

THE YORKIST AGE by Paul Murray Kendall

TheYorkistAgePaul Murray Kendall’s THE YORKIST AGE is an extremely well-researched book that involves a close reading of the Paston letters as well as wonderful nuggets about food, cleanliness, German traders and various festivals. However, it should be noted that it was first published in 1962, and so much of his incomparable scholarship has been superseded by fifty years of research on this period.


However, if you want a vivid and readable account of England in the years between 1461 and 1485, this would be a good book to start with, beforeCopper-alloy_boar_mount_from_the_Thames_foreshore_(London) going on to read more modern treatments. Four stars.

Images: Dunstable Swan (left) Richard III’s boar (right), livery badges both made in 1400s.TheDunstableSwan

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Review

News & Notes: My blog tour ends Friday!


To end with a bang, I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway. Valued at $18.99, this paperback will be yours for FREE if you enter the giveaway.

Click below to enter for your FREE SIGNED copy of the paperback version of THWARTED QUEEN (all 495 pages).

Good luck and have a wonderful week!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Thwarted Queen

by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Giveaway ends March 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Leave a Comment

Filed under News & Notes

Who is more handsome? Take Lady Cecylee’s poll…

Copper-alloy_boar_mount_from_the_Thames_foreshore_(London)Lady Cecylee insisted on posting today… (I wonder why?)

My dear readers and loyal friends,

It has recently come to my notice that my long-lost son Richard has been found. Now that you can all see what my darling boy actually looked like, I thought to play another Wars of the Roses game. This is not Leicester vs. York, but rather, King Richard III vs. that craven upstart, one Harry Tudor, self-styled King Henry VII. Ladies, whom do you think is more handsome?

The face of English King Richard III Younghenry7


Please note that I made every effort to be impartial by choosing a portrait of Tudor as a YOUNG man. Please take part and my scribe will post the results!


[polldaddy poll=6880674]

Image is of a copper boar, which was carried by a supporter of my youngest son Richard, whose badge was the blue boar, or the blanc sanglier.

Leave a Comment

Filed under News & Notes

Win your FREE copy of TWO MURDERS REAPED by Midnight on the Feast of the Epiphany!

CecyleeHeaddressSmileSign up on her ladyship’s list, answer a few questions to assure her ladyship you are not a robot, and receive your FREE copy.

Naturally, her ladyship will guard your answers, – as well as your email addresses – by locking them in her bejeweled casket. Or whatever one does these days.

[wp_email_capture_form listid=’1′ template=’1′ displayerror=’yes’ submittext=’http://spunstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/LadyCecyleeButton.jpg’]

Leave a Comment

Filed under About Cynthia, News & Notes

Lady Cecylee wishes to thank one & all for their support this year…


For everyone who’s dropped by to visit me at my Castle on Facebook, I thank you. Christmas can be a stressful time, as well I know. Family members do not always see things in the same way, and the results can make life difficult.

As part of my way of thanking you for your support in the Year of Grace 2012, I thought I would share a Christmas from many years back.

‘Twas the year 1468.

If I told you that my family were forced to sit near the windows where icy fingers of air crept under our heavy clothes to chill our hands and feet, while my daughter in law and her family – her six brothers, her nine sisters with their stolen husbands – were ensconced by the fire, you will understand that our family gathering did not begin well.

If you now imagine how one of the Serpent’s sisters (yes, I referred to my daughter-in-law as a serpent) made unkind comments about my sister Cath, who was married at the great age of sixty-seven years to the Serpent’s nineteen-year-old brother John, you will see why I became angry, though I hid my feelings behind a mask of politeness.

When the Serpent then invited my darling son George to play cards with her, and goaded him into blurting out that he was engaged to be married, you will sympathize with my anxiety on his behalf.

When Edward, the King, expressly forbade George to marry his cousin Bella in front of the whole court, you can empathize with my dismay. For George could not marry without the permission of his brother the King, and yet this was the second prospect Edward had turned down. What was George to do?

I rose to my feet and confronted my eldest son. What followed changed my life forever.

If you wish to read about this Christmas long past, and how my words came to haunt me, please visit my library on Amazon, where I invite you to peruse my memoirs.

Next year, I am taking my memoirs on tour.
I would be delighted to meet you personally. I leave you with some information of that event: Thwarted Queen Tour Banner FINAL

Adieu and God Bless You and Yours


Lady Cecylee de Neville

Duchess of York

Queen by Right



Leave a Comment

Filed under News & Notes


Published originally in 1795, and re-published on June 5 2011 by Ulan Press, Agnes Musgrave’s CICELY or THE ROSE OF RABY is a fictionalized biography of the life and times of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495).

It is very much a period piece with swooning ladies who gasp at what life brings them. I don’t think I am being unkind by saying that this is the “heaving bosom” version of Cecylee’s life. If you enjoy 18th century novels, and are interested in how someone from the 18th century understood Cecylee’s life, this is for you.  Otherwise, not so much. Three stars.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Review


Anne Neville (1456-1485) is not well-known as a personality in her own right. She is most famous for being the wronged wife of Richard III (1452-1485). At the time of her death, many whispered that she’d been poisoned by her husband to make way for his marriage to his niece Elizabeth of York (1466-1503). That marriage never happened, because Richard was obliged to deny before parliament that he’d had a relationship with Elizabeth. Shortly, thereafter on August 22, Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Anne is also known as the daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (1429-1471), aka “Warwick the Kingmaker” for his making and unmaking of England’s kings during the Wars of the Roses. And lastly, she is known for being the wife of Edward, Prince of Wales (1453-1471), the son and heir of Henry VI and Marguerite d’Anjou. They married in 1470, when Anne was only 14. Edward was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, leaving Anne a widow at the age of 15.

So it was a pleasure to read Philippa Gregory’s account of her in THE KINGMAKER’S DAUGHTER, in which Anne is the protagonist. In Ms. Gregory’s account, Anne emerges as an endearing and intelligent heroine, caught up in the snares of her father’s politics during as he swings from one side to another. Originally promised to Richard of Gloucester, a younger brother of the Yorkist King Edward IV, Anne is married off to Edward, Prince of Wales of the House of Lancaster. When Edward regains his throne and the House of Lancaster is crushed, Anne (according to Ms. Gregory) chooses to marry Richard of Gloucester as her second husband. Thus her marriage to the man who later becomes King Richard III, starts out as a love match.

Ms. Gregory keeps very close to her characters in her stories, and I think this is what makes them so popular. In this novel, you feel as if you are actually with Anne as the events of her life unfold. The author has also done a superlative job with Anne’s voice. Anne is not a charismatic person like Elizabeth Woodville or Jacquetta de St. Pol. Her voice does not have the bite of a Margaret Beaufort. Nevertheless, her quiet determination shines in this novel. Five stars.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Review