There’s a good reason George R. R. Martin based his A Song of Ice and Fire saga upon the dramatic events of the Wars of the Roses. It’s difficult for any writer to encapsulate the drama, intrigue and betrayal of fifteenth century England, but Conn Iggulden has proven he’s up there with the best of them. Bloodline is the third in his critically acclaimed Wars of the Roses series, and it’s obvious he’s more than comfortable in the timeline and with the characters he’s working with.
Blood will tell in this third installment, taking as its theme family loyalty and revenge for the death of loved ones. It’s York against Lancaster, the White Rose against the Red Rose. Richard Neville and Edward of York both lost their fathers to the Lancastrian forces at Wakefield, and are burning for revenge against Margaret of Anjou and the House of Lancaster (and to a lesser extent, the mentally addled King Henry VI…but it’s hard to hate a king when all he wants to do is pray quietly). Bloodline follows the bloody events leading up to Towton, the accession of King Edward IV, his love-driven marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and into the escalation of the second great flare-up of the Wars of the Roses.
Iggulden’s greatest strength is his attention to historical detail, whilst still being able to highlight the human sides of the historical figures in his novels. He streamlines the often confusing and complicated historical timeline to make it accessible to any reader, and makes you empathise with the characters. If you’re new to the series, go back and read Stormbird and Trinity, then bury yourself in this one. It delivers all the political intrigue, plays for power and house loyalty you could expect of any Game of Thrones episode.