I read and reviewed ‘Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy’ for Rosie Amber’s book review team
I love a good, intelligent historical novel. There are so many out there, and I have to be honest and say that, on many occasions, I have bought a promising looking book, only to abandon it within the first few chapters. Very often, the detail won’t be right, or the characters will behave in a way that just isn’t realistic for the time. One of the main issues though is that the dialogue can be so hard to get right. I’ve read so many historical novels where the characters use words that just wouldn’t have been around in the period in which they are set, or, alternatively, where the writer is so keen to make the dialogue authentic that they overdo it and render the book unreadable.
I’m pleased to say that neither of those things were issues in this book. The historical detail was rich and informative. I felt as though I learned a great deal about this particular period of history while immersed completely in Owen’s story. And the language was spot on too. Nothing felt out of place.
The story is fascinating. Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, falls in love with Queen Catherine of Valois, the widow of King Henry V. I had never heard of Owen, and knew nothing of his remarkable story. Their romance, and the dangers it brings, is played out against the background of the conflicts, intrigues and betrayals of the time that led to the War of the Roses.
Riches certainly knows his subject. There was so much detail here. The reader is carried from Windsor, to Wales, to France, into battles and life at court, with rich detail at every turn.
I felt though, that there was so much detail here, so much going on, that Owen’s own story was a little lost at times – in terms of his emotions and feelings. I didn’t always feel connected to him, even though the novel is written in first person. It felt sometimes as though he was dashing from one event to another without pause for breath. When tragedy struck, I didn’t always feel that Owen’s feelings came across.
The novel is written in present tense which was a bit off-putting for me. While present tense can bring immediacy to a story, I do think this would have worked better in past tense. Having said that, the writing was solid.
I do recommend this to those who enjoy historical novels. It’s a thoughtful, intelligent book that doesn’t disappoint.