"The yardstick by which all historical novels are measured."*
In Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's worldwide bestsellers, the majestic sweep of English history is richly and movingly portrayed through the fictional lives of the Morland family.
It is 1501, and Paul, great-grandson of Eleanor Morland, has inherited the estate and has a son to follow him. But he fathers an illegitimate boy by his beloved mistress, and bitter jealously between the half-brothers causes a destructive rift that threatens to destroy them all.
Paul's niece Nanette has her own passions, and becomes maid-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn. At the court of Henry VIII, she witnesses firsthand the events leading up to the rift with Rome, her mistress's execution, and the further efforts of the sad, ailing king to secure the male succession. And through all the turmoil of Henry VIII's reign-from drought to floods, from religious reform to court intrigue-the Morlands find new ways to come together while the world seems intent on tearing them apart.
What Readers Are Saying:*
"Once again, the history of the period is cleverly woven into the fortunes of the family."
"A fascinating look into the public and private lives of courtiers in Tudor times."
"The stories are great, the characters are fascinating, but it is her historical bases for these novels that is so brilliant and makes them very readable."
"Ms. Harrod-Eagles must be one of the most talented and dedicated authors around, as the historical detail is impeccable, and when you couple that with the characters, it makes for compulsive reading."
About the Author
Table of Contents
From Chapter One:
When the old king, Henry VII, died, his mother-the ancient Margaret Beaufort-was so grieved that she survived him by no more than a few weeks, dying in the middle of the new king's revels and being bundled off unceremoniously so as not to spoil the fun. It would have been hard, however, to find anyone else in the kingdom who regretted the passing of Henry Tidr, and impossible to find any such person in Yorkshire.
In Yorkshire dwelt the old York families with their illustrious names-Neville, Fitzalan, Percy, Mortimer, Clifford, Holland, Talbot, Bourchier, Strickland-and their long memories of personal rule by successive York lords-Richard of Warwick; Richard of York; and Richard of Gloucester, their sweet King Richard who died at the hands of this same unloved and unregretted Henry Tidr.
In Yorkshire also dwelt the Morland family, with their history of lives spent in the cause of the House of York. The founder of the Morland house, Eleanor Courteney, had been a personal friend of the Plantagenets, and King Richard himself had been a frequent visitor at Morland Place before he became king; and her youngest son Richard had served under that king in France. Richard Morland, now universally known as Great Uncle Richard, was the elder and guiding spirit of Morland Place, though Eleanor's great-grandson Paul was the nominal head of the family. Great Uncle Richard had always been a gentle man and averse to killing or hurting anyone, but even he had had his moment of blood-letting for the cause, and in his case it was purely for revenge.
The battle of Bosworth Field had lost King Richard his life, partly owing to the treachery of Lord Stanley, but even more owing to the treachery of Lord Percy of Northumberland. 'Proud Percy' had delayed in his duty of calling out the men of the north to the King's aid, with the result that the huge Yorkshire army-Morland men amongst them-was still on the road when the battle was lost and over.
Richard Morland and Paul's father Ned had felt the shame and anguish deeply, and when a fugitive from the battle had told them that Percy, after holding back from the fighting, had been one of the first to do homage to Henry Tidr, they knew that come what may they must be revenged on proud Percy. There were many who felt thus; their chance came not quite four years later.
It was Lord Percy's task, among others, to collect the taxes imposed by his new sovereign lord upon the people of the north, and in 1489 in April a tax was imposed to raise funds for an invasion of France. Word flickered through Yorkshire like flames through dry bracken; messages passed to and fro between certain members of Percy's own household, and certain other men whose hearts burned with revenge. When Richard Morland heard of the plot from Ned, he was at first shocked. 'His own henchmen?' he queried. 'He is their lord, their special lord, to whom they owe the firmest duty. It is shame to them not to protect him.'
Ned, normally cheerful and light, looked grim. 'They are already shamed,' he said, 'and by their own lord. Percy failed in his duty to the King, betrayed and abandoned him to his death. His henchmen want to wipe out that shame-it can only be paid for by his blood.'
'And who is to strike the blow?'
'We shall draw lots.' Ned's candid gaze met Richard's. 'Are you with us, or against us?' he asked simply. Richard's heart was torn; murder was prohibited by every tenet of Christianity and by every impulse of his gentle soul; yet something older and more primitive was stirring in him, the acknowledgement of duty to one's feudal lord. He had served under King Richard, had sworn that same oath to him. His eyes fell on the blazoning of the Morland arms over the fireplace, and the motto underneath, the single word Fidelitas. Faithfulness, the Morland creed.
'I'm with you,' he said.
It was not hard to raise a mob-northern men never liked paying taxes to a southern king, and Henry VII was particularly unpopular. Last year and the year before, tax collectors had been attacked, and goods constrained had been forcibly rescued by their seething owners. Percy with his household men and retainers marched south to meet the mob and put down what appeared to be a rebellion against the Tudor king and his taxation policy. The two armies met at Topcliffe, near Thirsk.
It was a strange scene. At first there was yelling, brandishing of weapons, threats and insults, but when Percy rode forward into the small space between the groups, a silence fell. Perhaps he thought it was the power of his personality that created the silence; if so, it was his last earthly gratification. There was no man there, from the greatest to the least, who by now did not know what was coming. Two smaller groups detached themselves, one from the Yorkshire mob, one-his closest henchman-from the Northumberland army, and gently, almost tenderly, closed round the mounted lord. A brown hand took the horse's bridle and the horse fidgeted and shivered, smelling the atmosphere. Percy smelled it too, and looked round, suddenly wary, at the ring of faces, and the cold eyes. The old fox, they called him-he was thin and red-haired and scar-faced; he had never been lacking in courage-you don't stay long in the high chair of a Border lord if you're a coward-but there was something in the quiet, hard purpose of the men who surrounded him that chilled his blood.
'What's this?' he demanded. 'What's going on?'
'Better dismount, my lord,' said a voice beside him. It was his steward, a man who had grown up in his service from boyhood. Percy stared into his eyes, and read his death there. There was no appealing against that look. Trembling now, he dismounted. The soft wind, blowing the smell of spring from the south, fluttered across the high field, stirring the men's hair and the horses' manes. The two great armies stood silent, like a vast congregation, and between them stood the small circle of men surrounding the white horse and the great lord. Now that the moment had come there was no anger, no glee, no delight in revenge-there was only a kind of sober sadness, almost a pity. At the last moment Percy begged his men to remember their vows, their oath of loyalty to protect him, but silence was the only reply, and that silence bid him remember his own broken oath. Pride stiffened him again.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Originally Posted at: www.whippedcream2.blogspot.com The need to love and be loved is an abiding theme that pulsates like the very heartbeat of The Dark Rose. On the continuum from the powerful king to the defenseless child born of rape, these needs influence lives, politics, and even religion. Members of the Morland family take the reader on a journey through a time in 16th century England when change rumbled and threatened like a live volcano erupting, and then subsiding only to flare up again bringing heartbreak, pain, and death. These changes often placed duty over love, making the lives of many miserable. Yet, love survived and life continued. Nanette Morland feels the brunt of all these happenings, whether at her beloved Morland Place in the North of England or in King Henry's court. Her life, so intricately entwined with the powerful and the weak, gives her love for a short time, but duty, hurt, and humiliation demand a strength from her that sometimes saps her vitality. Yet, she never retreats from life and her search for purpose and happiness. The Dark Rose teems with characters that pull the reader into their lives, their emotions, their beliefs, and their struggles for a better life. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles gives the reader a vicarious experience that encompasses war, drought, killing winter cold, religious persecution, and power struggles (in families and in the realm). The reader is also privy to the trials and tribulations of a multitude of characters from the king to the commoners - some evoke sympathy while others stir hostile feelings, even hate. The excellent research makes the reader forget that The Dark Rose is fiction. The historical facts around which the story is twined makes it seem so real. This second book of the Morland dynasty series is a compelling, emotion-stirring tale that lingers in the mind long after the last page is read. It is a KEEPER!
From My blog...First came The Foundling, which took the reader through the War of the Roses now in her second Morland Dynasty saga, The Dark Rose, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles takes the reader through the demise of the Plantagenets to the full rise of the Tudors being firmly in power. The Dark Rose tells the story of the Morlands during the reign of King Henry VIII and the controversies within the Morland family beginning with Paul, the great-grandson of Eleanor and his conflicts with his half brother Jack. The reader is taken through the tumultuous years of roughly 1501-1549 with the rise and fall of power, allegiances, love, and betrayal along with a fresh insight into King Henry VIII¿s court. The Dark Rose is a very detailed account of life during this time period and offers a fresh opinion of a time period often written about. Harrod-Eagles masterfully takes command of historical events and creates intriguing and compelling stories to go with the actual events making the reader care about the characters, both major and minor, along with the events that lead up to the joys, sorrows, heartbreaking sadness and delicious triumphs that occur in the Morland family. Those familiar with Tudor England will recognise many of the key players. While this is the second in the Moreland Dynasty saga, The Dark Rose can indeed stand on its own, however I highly recommend reading The Foundling, as it was truly a brilliant read and the third Morland novel will be released later this fall titled, The Princeling, which I am anxiously awaiting. I highly recommend The Dark Rose to anyone who enjoys exceptionally written historical fiction or anyone knew to historical fiction.
On her website, author Cynthia Harrod Eagles writes that the original plan for the Morland Dynasty series was to cover 500 years of British history in twelve volumes, presumably fictionalising the past to make a lot of dry old dates and names more interesting. Only, the characters she created started to fill more and more of the pages, and the author admits to getting carried away with history: "For one thing, I found I wanted to include so much more than had been planned for: not just the kings, battles and Parliaments, but how people lived, what they wore and ate, how they gave birth and died, how they built their houses and related to their servants, how they travelled, what they believed in." And her devotion shows. Even in the second part of the now thirty-strong Morland series, set during the reign of Henry the Eighth, Cynthia Harrod Eagles' passion for historical detail and her incredible skill for combining fact with fiction are what drive the story on, and compel the reader to stick with such a wordy novel. History is told from a human angle, and the ever-increasing Morlands are at the heart of the action. The Dark Rose begins with Paul, Eleanor's great-grandson (I must confess to being confused by the different generations, and needing to refer back to the family tree), and overlaps into the story of Nanette, Paul's half-brother's eldest daughter. (I think.) Paul is initially nothing more than a man of the age, abusing his wife and keeping a mistress, but he grows into a more sympathetic character after suffering the usual grief and hardships of life. His relationship with 'Little Bear' is touching in the extreme, and the carved symbol of his love for her is another of Cynthia Harrod Eagles' neat touches. Nanette is another Eleanor, a strong woman who holds together the family through each new generation. She becomes a close friend to both Ann Boleyn and Katherine Parr, and observes the many intrigues of Henry the Eighth's court firsthand, outliving the larger than life monarch to counsel his young daughter, Elizabeth.I know the bare bones of Henry's reign, of course, but Cynthia Harrod Eagles really fleshed out both the man and the king for me. His portrayal is honest but fair, told in part from Anne Boleyn's point of view, but with sympathy for Henry's position. He needed male heirs to secure the royal line and prevent civil war after his death, and although he genuinely seemed to love his wives, duty to his country always came first. Fascinating.For any lovers of historical fiction who haven't tasted Cynthia Harrod Eagles' Morland Dynasty, start now!
As usual, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles places a strong female character in the lead; this time, of course, it¿s Nannette. But the author never makes her characters seem too modern, which is what I like in historical fiction. Since Nannette is at court, she is present to witness history being made, and as such we see all six of Henry VIII¿s wives (though only two get speaking parts). Too, I was fascinated here with how the introduction of Protestantism affected the Morland family; it¿ll be interesting to see how it plays out over time.
This, the second book in the Morland Dynasty series begins in 1501 around the time that King Henry VII dies and ends during King Edward VI's reign or actually the Regency's reign. Interspersed with the history of the Tudors is the fictional family the Morlands. It is a story of continuing court intrique, treachery, love and hate during a time in history where a person could be charged with treason just by saying the wrong thing or following the 'wrong' religion. Most everyone knows the story of Henry VIII so I will not go into detail. It is a story about the Catholics and the Protestants and the struggle that ensues. The first third of the book surrounds the life of Paul Morland, great grandson of Eleanor Morland. It tells of the marriages and births and deaths within the family. There was a lot of intermarrying within the cousins. This was a very common practice at that time to keep the bloodlines pure and to keep lands and other holdings within a family. There were also illegitimate children born of the Morland family who had no claims to the dynasty. The second part of the book is about the character of Nanette who goes to court and becomes first a friend of, then maid-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn. Nanette forsakes her own happiness for her service to Queen Anne. Nan spends time between the court and her home at Morland. The last part of the book goes into more of Nanette and the other members of the Morland family, the next generations if you will.As in any epic style novel, there are characters too numerous to mention, some historical inaccuracies, wars, deaths, births, jealousy between siblings and also happiness. I enjoyed this book as I did the first one in the series and look forward to the next in the series. For the person who loves a great story and a very interesting time in the history of England will be sure to like The Dark Rose.