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The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
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The Sunne in Splendour (original 1982; edition 1990)

by Sharon Kay Penman

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1,622524,469 (4.48)237
Member:cerce7
Title:The Sunne in Splendour
Authors:Sharon Kay Penman
Info:Ballantine Books (1990), Paperback, 944 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:Historical Fiction, Plantagenet

Work details

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman (1982)

  1. 31
    The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (LisaMaria_C)
    LisaMaria_C: For me The Daughter of Time and The Sunne in Splendour go hand in hand. The first is the classic mystery "solving" the mystery of the Two Princes in the Tower and the second a sympathetic biographical novel of Richard III which is well-researched and moving.… (more)
  2. 00
    We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (Imprinted)
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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Sharon Kay Penman is the best! Richard, Edward, wives, children, friends and enemies come alive. Always historically accurate, this is the best portrayal of the War of Roses I've read and not once does the author use that term. My only complaint is that I wish there were more thorough family trees or a list of names. ( )
  maryreinert | Jul 7, 2014 |
When most people think of Richard III, they picture a hunchbacked villain who was obsessed with being king and who murdered the princes in the Tower as a result. But in this novel, the last Plantagenet king is portrayed in a very different light: Richard (or Dickon, as most characters call him) is noble and loyal to a fault, and these good traits are ultimately what cause his downfall. The novel begins with Dickon's childhood, when his father, the Duke of York, is killed in the war against the Lancastrian Henry VI. Dickon's oldest brother Edward subsequently takes his father's place in leading the Yorkist faction against Henry; eventually, he is crowned as Edward IV, and Dickon becomes one of his most trusted advisers and most skilled battle commanders. But as Edward obtains more and more power, Dickon becomes disillusioned with his brother's morally questionable choices, and the struggle of brother against brother mirrors the broader conflict between York and Lancaster.

As always, in this book Sharon Kay Penman manages to bring the Middle Ages to life. I always enjoy her vivid descriptions of daily life during this period, as well as her depictions of medieval religion, warfare, and politics. This book in particular is a fascinating political study, showing that the cutthroat nature of modern politics is rooted in a long tradition. I also like the fact that this novel approaches Richard III from a countercultural perspective. While I don't know enough about the subject to judge whether Penman's interpretation is justified, it makes sense to me that Henry Tudor (who acceded to the throne after Richard's death) would want to do everything in his power to discredit his predecessor. It's always important to remember that history is written by the victors! All in all, I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Richard III, the War of the Roses, or the Middle Ages in general.
1 vote christina_reads | May 9, 2014 |
As much a book about Edward IV (Ned) as it is about RIchard III (Dickie). A sympathetic look at Richard's reluctant rise to power, and his loyalty to his older brother. Well written, as are all the books by this author. Lots and lots of conspiricies, and vying for power, and battles. ( )
  Pmaurer | Nov 29, 2013 |
The "Sunne in Splendour" refers to the coat-of-arms of Edward IV, brother of Richard III. It's also the title of a delightful historical novel by Sharon Kay Penman that I discovered while browsing in a bookstore in Pennsylvania. (One should never, ever, enter a bookstore while on vacation and in possession of a credit card, unless one has worked out on weight-lifting machines for several weeks beforehand.)

Ms. Penman has gone to great lengths to make her novel as historically accurate as possible. She explains in the afterword how she would "not place a scene at Windsor [Castle:] unless my characters were known to be at Windsor on that day, making sure that a Wednesday was actually a Wednesday, that details of medieval life were corroborated by more than one source."

Richard III has not fared well at the hands of other writers - most·notably Shakespeare -and Ms. Penman believes that it was because the Tudors, who won the eventual battle for the throne, rewrote, as victors are wont to do, the history of the participants. She therefore relied most heavily on contemporary sources, or writings committed to paper shortly after the events.

She compensated for the medieval chroniclers' penchant for exaggeration. Richard's supposed deformity is a good case in point. Superstitions common during the middle ages suggested that deformities represented evil and moral depravity. None of Richard's contemporaries ever wrote that Richard had any deformity short of a well-developed shoulder from wielding a heavy sword. Physical descriptions rendered by those who knew him fail to mention anything of the kind. "The first seeds were not sown until after Richard's death~ it was John Rous who contended that Richard's right shoulder was higher than his left. (But then he also claimed that Richard was two years in his mother's womb.)"

Thomas More was another who contributed to this myth, but he reversed the shoulders! He also gave him a withered arm, a characteristic that does not coincide with Richard's prowess on the battlefield. More's motives are clarified· in detail by Paul Murray Kendall in his excellent biography of Richard III, which makes excellent companion reading to Penman's novel. More was writing an "attack on the Realpolitik practiced by the princes of the day," and it was useful for him to portray Richard as thoroughly bad. Shakespeare gave him a withered arm, hunchback and limp.

Penman is also skeptical of the Tudor claims that Richard murdered his nephews -- she makes Buckingham the culprit. Penman rather likes Richard, and he certainly is portrayed sympathetically.

revised 5/8/09 ( )
2 vote ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
The quality of Ms. Penman's writing is astounding. Best historical fiction I've ever read. ( )
  afinch11 | Aug 8, 2013 |
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To Julie McCaskey Wolff
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Richard did not become frightened until darkness began to settle over the woods.
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And what of those who didn't know him? What happens, too, when all who knew him are dead, when people know only what they've been told? What truth will we be talking about, then?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345363132, Paperback)

"The reader is left with the haunting sensation that perhaps the good a man does can live after him--especially in the hands of a dedicated historian."
SAN DIEGO UNION
In this stirring historical novel, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III from his villainous role in history as the hulking, evil hunchback. This dazzling recreation of his life is filled with the sights and sounds of battle, and the passions of the highborn. Most of all, it brings to life a gifted man whose greatest sin was that he held principles too firmly for the times in which he lived, and loved too deeply to survive love's loss.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:47 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Departing from the traditional Shakespearian and Tudor historical portraits, this saga depicts the love story of Richard III and Anne Neville against the backdrop of royal family intrigue.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

LibraryThing Author

Sharon Kay Penman is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Author Chat

Sharon Kay Penman chatted with LibraryThing members from Aug 10, 2009 to Aug 21, 2009. Read the chat.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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