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Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell…

Within the Hollow Crown

by Margaret Campbell Barnes

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I enjoyed this book. I have to admit to not knowing much about Richard II before I started but now I want to know more. Richard was just 11 when his father died and then 15 when his grandfather died leaving him King at a very young age. He only had glimpses of what it was like to be a child. He was the last of the manly, warring Plantagenet line and he was remarkably a peace maker despite the best efforts of his uncles.

He married young and his marriage was a happy one - rare in royal circle. But ultimately all too short.

Since he was so young when he came to power he was slow to use the power he had. He guardian uncles was always trying to sway him one way or the other until he finally let his Plantagenet temper loose. Richard did quell the peasant rebellion and bring peace to England - for a while but the War of the Roses was soon to follow and any student of England's history knows that peace was a very illusive thing during a good portion of its history.

The book is a re-issue of one written in 1948 so the rhythm is slightly different from books written today. It is not hard to get used to. There are some sections a bit long on exposition but if you are a history buff like I am they will not bother you. Overall it is a very enjoyable book about a very tragic King.
  BrokenTeepee | May 8, 2010 |
From my blog...

When writing reviews such as this one, there is for me a fine line between giving just enough information and telling too much. Hopefully the information I have selected to share will be enough to make readers want to pick up this book. Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes is beautifully written and at times tragic tale of Richard II. His father Prince Edward, more commonly referred to as the Black Prince passed away when Richard was only 10 and by the time he was 11 his grandfather King Edward the Third passed away, leaving young Richard Plantagenet as the successor to the throne. Young Richard, like most young lads did not want to be told how to think and behave by his uncles John the Duke of Lancaster, Edmund the Duke of York, and Thomas the Duke of Gloucester. The Dukes did not like young Richard to be around his loving, persuasive mother, Joan of Kent, believing she is too soft on him and in turn was making young Richard into an effeminate man. Richard as a young adolescent began showing signs of compassion, which would eventually lead to him to successfully quelling the Peasant Uprising. Within the Hollow Crown is an extraordinarily written novel of the life of Richard II, about an inquisitive boy who did not want to become King. Richard II's life was riddled with personal conflicts and tragedies. Richard marries at young age to Anne of Bohemia and during their twelve-year marriage, Richard and Anne have numerous ambitions just as many people in power opposed to their ideas work fervently to make certain these ambitions do not become fruitful. It is said that Richard II had within him the power to be a brilliant King, so when and where do things begin to go awry? Within the Hollow Crown is brilliantly crafted and the reader gets a look at another side of Richard II that readers who enjoy historical fiction will appreciate. Barnes masterfully takes command and tells an exquisitely written tale of the last reigning Plantagenet King. ( )
  knittingmomof3 | Apr 8, 2010 |
Within the Hollow Crown is the story of Richard II, beginning at age 15 when he managed to put down the Peasants’ Rebellion in 1381. The son of Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent, Richard became King at age 10, after the death of his grandfather, Edward III. Richard II has a bit of a Bad Reputation, due to the way he handled certain events during his reign, but Margaret Campbell Barnes attempts to restore his reputation in this novel. Although she achieved her goal in this way, I still found that there was a lot lacking about this book.

This is the first novel I’ve read about Richard II (in fact, it’s the only novel about him that I’ve heard of). Richard’s story is extremely interesting, and the comparisons between he and his great-grandfather Edward the II are inevitable. The time period in which Edward lived is extraordinary too; the Peasants’ Revolt was merely the capstone on a century beset by chaos. It’s remarkable, therefore, how an author can manage to make a story like this uninteresting—frequently I found my attention wandering while reading this book.

I think one of my major problems with this book is that it feels dated; the research Barnes probably based her book on is outdated. Now historians tend to think that Richard suffered from personality disorders, especially towards the end of his life; Barnes’s characters is a muddled mess most of the time, which made it difficult for me as a reader to understand or even sympathize with his actions.

Her descriptions of the rioting in London in 1382 are well done, as is her description of the way that Richard died (though there's no certain proof either way), but I feel as though the various parts of the novel are disjointed. The writing style itself is confusing; Barnes uses a lot of big words (like “adumbrating”), but none of her prose truly makes much sense much of the time. Her dialogue also feels stilted. I did like the whole idea behind the novel, and I find Barnes’s attempt to portray Richard sympathetically admirable; but I just didn’t like a lot of this book. ( )
  Kasthu | Apr 1, 2010 |
This is another great historical fiction story by Margaret Campbell Barnes and tells the story of Richard Plantagenet who is the son of The Black Prince. He is also the nephew of John of Gaunt and grandson of King Edward III.His mother was Joan, Princess of Wales. Richard was crowned king of England at the early age of eleven. During the early years of his reign there was a variety of councils that ruled as a regency. Around 1380-1381 Richard played a major part in supressing the Peasant's Revolt. Richard was married to Anne of Bohemia, which according to this author, theirs was a very loving marriage. They were married at a very young age (15) and were married for 12 years with no children and Anne died of the plague at the age of 28. He did marry again to Isabella, daughter of Charles VI of France but she was only 6 at the time. After the death of Anne, Richard became very bereft and his rule over England became precarious as there are those around him that want to take over the throne. His fears are realized and he was seized and put in the Tower of London and after a time he was taken to Pontefract Castle, where he died around 1400. As with all of Margaret Campbell Barnes historical novels, this story was very well researched and even though this book was first published in 1948, the reader feels like this is brand new historical fiction. I like that Margaret's books are so easy to read and they are filled with all sorts of court intrigue, treason, murder,lots of secondary characters and even romance. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it for all historical buffs. ( )
  celticlady53 | Mar 26, 2010 |
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Perhaps one of the most misunderstood of all English monarchs, the son of the Black Prince and grandson of Edward III has been portrayed in a dim light by history. But Margaret Campbell Barnes gives readers a different portrait of Richard II. Although his peace-loving ways set him apart from the war-mongering medieval world around him, Richard proved himself a true king by standing down a peasant revolt and outwitting the political schemes of his enemies. Struggling to uphold the valiant Plantagent dynasty, Richard and his queen, Anne of Bohemia, nonetheless manage to create an exquisite partnership, described as 'one of the tenderest idylls of romance ever written'.
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Richard II never really wanted to be king. But the mantle of royalty is thrust upon his shoulders at age eleven, at a time when England is racked by unrest and class warfare. A leader as unexpected as he is inexperienced, young Richard must find a way to triumph over a fierce conflict more destructive than any foreign enemy.… (more)

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