I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Matador on November 18th, 2013
Genres: Historical, Historical Fiction
Just how far will one man go in the name of loyalty?
Set in an England beset by power wrangling and warfare at the end of the 15th century, The King’s Dogge (the first of a two book series) tells of Francis Lovell’s meteoric rise from humble squire to closest ally of King Richard III.
Having courageously fought at Barnet for the great noble the Earl of Warwick, Lovell is introduced to Richard of Gloucester. Impressed by Lovell’s military acumen, Gloucester assigns him the unenviable task of fighting the Scots in the West March. His initiative wins him a knighthood and turns him into Gloucester’s most prized asset. In time, Lovell comes to respect Gloucester and a close friendship blossoms, each aware of one another’s weaknesses but together able to advance one another’s careers – military and political respectively. Lovell’s future is further shaped by Gloucester’s scheming wife Anne Neville, whose ambition exceeds that of her husband.
But when their Machiavellian scheming leads to the cold-blooded murder of the princes in the tower, Lovell is forced to weigh his conscience against his sense of duty and ask himself what dark acts he is prepared to carry out in Gloucester’s name.
The King’s Dogge is a fictional account of the rule of King Richard III as seen from the perspective of his closest adviser, Francis Lovell. It weaves a story around true events and throws the actions of the king into a new perspective when viewed against the ambition of his wife, Anne Neville.
The phrase ‘history is written by the winners’ is heartily applicable to the Wars of the Roses, which is why the Tudor household remains nearly a household name, while figures like King Richard III or the ‘Kingmaker’ Earl of Warwick fall to relative obscurity beyond the realm of historians. As a result, there are many unexplored or unanswered questions on the ‘losing’ figures, leaving them open to interpretation. With The King’s Dogge, Nigel Green has stepped into the losing side to give a voice and a sense of humanity to these often overlooked or demonized figures, and successfully inspires his readers to consider the pressures and circumstances of intense conflict.
The King’s Dogge is the story of Francis Lovell and his rise through the ranks of military service. Francis begins his service to the crown as a soldier, who garners the attention of his superiors for cunning military tactics and insight. He is brought to directly serve the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Gloucester (later to become King Richard III), and is tasked with managing problematic territorial regions, which he handles skillfully. Francis is an exceptionally loyal man to a fault, and bears his service even when forced to shoulder unnecessary blame, or relinquish credit to the Duke for his successful management. By the time Richard has been crowned King, Francis Lovell has become one of his most valued advisers, which places Francis in the most uncomfortable situations as Richard makes decisions that will change the face of England forever.
The biggest success of this book was its interesting perspective on historical figures that normally are portrayed as one dimensional. Green paints detailed and complex pictures of the inner workings of Richard III’s political dynamic and personality, the influence of his wife, Anne Neville, and the struggles of morality, power and influence that they faced. Green has also given character to Lovell to make him headstrong, loyal, intelligent, conflicted, and ultimately, shocking in his decisions. Comparatively, this book also had its failures in dragging scenes of ho-hum battle, less important military or political conversation, debate, and several characters that muddied the waters and drew focus.
Overall, an acceptable read that I would recommend for its perspective, but would have preferred a more brisk pace.