Audiobook Junkie, Sporadic book blogger, occasional master chef, soccer mom, wearer of pajamas, teller of tales, cool aunt, beloved wife, and loyal friend.
The Kingmaker's Daughter is probably my favorite of the Cousin's War series to date. It is written from the perspective of Anne Neville and gives yet another interesting point of view from this volatile period of history. One of the things I enjoy so much about Philippa Gregory's novels is that she somehow manages to turn what could have been tedious political maneuvering into exciting intrigue that keeps me riveted from the first moment. I am not a historian so I have no idea how historically accurate this series is, but I can say that they certainly paint a vivid picture of what living in that time period might have been like. From the court customs, to the fashions, the scandals, the betrayals, and executions, each aspect was brought to life in such a way that I almost felt myself a part of the story.
Each character was shown from Anne's point of view so was colored by her own biases and was a bit different from how these same characters were presented in the previous books. The story was focused so much on Anne, and to a lesser extent Isabelle, that many of the other characters, at times, felt a bit flat. Anne's relationship with her sister Isabelle was reminiscent of the rivalry between Mary and Anne Boleyn in Gregory's popular novel, The Other Boleyn Girl. While there was always that undercurrent of love, each sister didn't hesitate to betray the other in order to further their own cause or that of their husband. I didn't find either sister to be particularly likable, and sometimes thought that their personalities were a bit contradictory. For example, Anne seems to have grown from a bright, practical, inquisitive child into a fearful woman ruled by her superstitions and unwilling to even consider any point of view than that which painted her family in a positive light. I guess that the struggles she was faced with could account for such a drastic change in character but it was still a bit odd.
One of the things about this series, including The Kingmaker's Daughter that I was not a fan of was the witchery and spells and magic that were included. However, after discussing this with a friend who is also reading the series, I can see how it may have been presented this way because of how the players so wholeheartedly believed that witchcraft was responsible for many things such as storms, sicknesses, and death. Curses were taken very seriously in 1400's England and so reading from Anne's perspective, I can see why an unexpected storm would be believed to have been whistled up by the witch who hated her. I guess this was a realistic danger in this time period, that any misfortune could be laid at the feet of someone believed to be a witch. This would have been a very effective way to discredit a powerful woman, as it seems to have done in the case of Elizabeth Woodville.
While The Kingmaker's Daughter can be read on it's own as a stand-alone novel, I would definitely recommend reading the entire series in order simply because it is a beautifully written thrilling story. Despite the fact that I found many of the characters to be a bit flat, the fast paced plot was such that I found the book hard to put down. I know many people, after reading Philippa Gregory's historical fiction have been inspired to find out more about this violent era and these fascinating people. I would absolutely recommend this and any and every other book written by this author to any fans of this genre.