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Friday, April 2, 2010

Book Review: Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes
ARC, Paperback (Reprint), 368 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
April 1, 2010

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Sourcebooks for review
"Set against the backdrop of a country racked by revolt and class warfare, Within the Hollow Crown showcases the true spirit of a king at the end of one of the most glorious dynasties, who wants both England's heart and crown. Perhaps one of the most misunderstood of all English monarchs, the son of the Black Prince and grandson of Edward III has been portrayed in a dim light by history. But Margaret Campbell Barnes gives readers a different portrait of Richard II. Although his peace-loving ways set him apart from the war-mongering medieval world around him, Richard proved himself a true king by standing down a peasant revolt and outwitting the political schemes of his enemies. Struggling to uphold the valiant Plantagent dynasty, Richard and his queen, Anne of Bohemia, nonetheless manage to create an exquisite partnership, described as 'one of the tenderest idylls of romance ever written.'"
Richard II is a just a kid when he becomes the King of England. As a boy king, his uncles have a lot of power over his decisions and use him to put their own agenda forward. After dealing with a large scale peasant revolt, where he takes control of the situation himself to the shock of his uncles, Richard begins to take over the reins of government. For the first time in years, England is in a state of relative peace, but that cannot last for long…

The thing that I enjoyed the most about Barnes’ novel was the way the characters are written. Richard grew up from a young, disinterested boy king, to a confident king who believed what he was doing was right. I think it was very unfortunate the way things turned out for him. Barnes did a very good job at portraying Richard in a more realistic light – as opposed to the Richard of Shakespeare lore – a more human Richard evolved from the pages. I also really enjoyed the relationship that evolved between Richard and his first queen, Anne of Bohemia, very sweet.

The first section of the book, about the first 100 pages or so, focus on the Peasant Revolt, a rather significant event of that time period. I had a very hard time getting through this section because it felt very dry and not much happened during those pages. I persevered because I had heard good things about the rest of the book. As I got to section two I found it much more of an enjoyable read. Richard’s wife, Anne, becomes a major character and I really enjoyed the person that Richard became when he was with her. The rest of the book flew by and I found myself with a few tears at the ending – I really liked Richard. The reign of Richard II precedes the War of the Roses, but I don’t think this was the best book for me to start reading about this period with.

Overall, I enjoyed the writing style of Barnes but it would have been a better, in my opinion, if the peasant revolt section was shorter or a little more exciting. It would have been much quicker to get into. This is definitely another character driven novel.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia 

Also by Margaret Campbell Barnes:


Brief Gaudy Hour

King's Fool

Mary of Carisbrooke
[My Review]

My Lady of Cleves

The Passionate Brood
[My Review]

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I received this one for review as well. I'll be reading it soon. I enjoyed your review.

  2. Will have to look for this one. Knowing it is a slow starter, but gets better will help me hang in there and keep reading.

  3. This one is on the top of my TBR stack. Great review - thanks!

  4. Good review Heather. What is it with Richards and Annes getting married? I have not read anything about this Richard so I'll be sure to add this to the list. THanks!

  5. I loved this book! It is exactly the kind of historical fiction I enjoy-kings and queens of England.

    I enjoy all of Margaret Campbell Barnes' books.

    KRW Personal Injury Attorney


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