To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell

Challenge 32 ~ “A historical fiction book.”


★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

The Lost Princes has always been an aspect of history that has interested me (and, coincidentally, is one of those excluded from the school curriculum). When looking up novels surrounding the topic, I discovered this work by Maxwell – an author, whilst acclaimed for previous historical fiction novels, I was unfamiliar with. For now, however, I shall reserve judgement on the author as a whole – whilst the novel was pretty well written, it was difficult to get into and lacked a solid basis on the historical events.

What I was not expecting when reading about the Lost Princes was a novel told from two perspectives, when neither was one of the princes themselves. However, Maxwell’s fresh take on the history introduced two female narrators – Bessie and Nell. Using this, Maxwell was able to portray a thought-provoking exploration into the position and role of women in the late-1400s. A strength, for sure, but at the same time it created a barrier against the less educated reader, failing to create a strong situational basis into the time and events unfolding.

Another of the barriers for those less familiar with the mystery surrounding the Lost Princes is the lack of a family tree – with so many characters (and particularly Margarets) it would be beneficial to have a concrete reference to fully understand inter-character relations. Yet, once you have managed to position yourself in the setting, Maxwell’s novel provides adequate detail into the events that unfold, and twists at the end help keep the reader on their toes.

Approaching this novel, I would warn readers of two things: 1. at least a basic strong knowledge of the time period and events is assumed, and 2. the story opens in a peculiar manner, featuring a crowned Queen Bessie and an original character’s divorce. Bearing these into consideration, however, Maxwell’s novel is engaging, well-researched and well-written.

Recommended for fans of:

  • Crusade by Elizabeth Laird
  • Gatty’s Tale by Kevin Crossley-Holland
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsey

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