Thank you, NetGalley for the chance to read this ebook for free in exchange for an honest review
Dark Queen Rising is set during the War or the Roses, this novel follows the actions of Christopher Ulswicke, clerk to Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor (VII). I will admit I am a bit of a Tudor era aficionado and have been fascinated about the time period for years and it was one of the reasons I picked this book.
Margaret Beaumont finds herself the last remaining hope for the House of Lancaster and has to navigate the delicate balance of power, showing no fear whilst trying to maintain her power amongst the conspiratorial court politics. Survival looks to be an issue, let alone rising to power once again. Her son must be concealed and smuggled out of the Country before he is found and executed he has a real claim to the throne that cannot be tolerated by the victors. It falls to Margaret and her clerk, Christopher Urswicke to try and turn a near-hopeless situation to their advantage.
Four bodies are discovered with their throats slit and it's up to Ulswicke to unravel the mystery of who killed them and why they were murdered. In order to save his mistress, Ulswicke must prove her innocence but does anyone actually want to know the truth or is this just another round in the games of power that are taking place?
Personally, I don’t think Paul could have picked a more fascinating character than Margaret Beaufort Countess of Richmond she was widowed at the age of thirteen, a mere three months before the birth of Henry VII, proved herself a master of political conspiracy once the moment was right and in the end got her son the title to the throne of England. The things that she did to both stay alive and stay influential… well, there’s certainly more than one story here and worth taking a nosey.
Christopher Ulswicke also based on a real person, is our detective and an interesting lead. Beaufort uses Christopher Urswicke as a spy and decoy. He was loyal and employed by Margaret to forward the schemes for securing the English throne for her son, Henry of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII. As much as Christopher is an interesting individual there’s very little information about him on the internet. Throughout the book as his conspiracies progress, Paul does a great job at keeping them deliciously convoluted while never losing the reader as to who is playing who and at what.
I think this book leans slightly more to a historical take on the period rather than a full-blown mystery novel as Paul takes a number of real events and weaves a story around making it an interesting read and worth the time. That’s isn’t to say Paul hasn’t don’t a marvellous job weaves the murders into the conspiracy and political deception, I was completely gripped by the tale.
Some readers might be put off by the pacing of the book. The opening chapter does have a bit of an information dump but it has a lot of useful information about the status of the numerous characters, but it soon settles down into what is for the first half of the book, political intrigue. Paul, in my opinion, is a master at bringing the sights and sounds, the politics to life, there are plenty and intrigue and blood-curdling moments in this book.