Richard III Society review: ‘A wonderful work of historical fiction’

Today I was delighted to read the following review of The Order of the White Boar in the Ricardian Bulletin, the magazine of the Richard III Society (http://www.richardiii.net/)

Founded in 1924, under its original name of the Fellowship of the White Boar, the Society is not only the foremost society dedicated to the reassessment of King Richard, but also (inadvertently) the inspiration for the title of the book (and the chivalric order created by the four friends)!

I first became a member in my teens, after I read Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time and found the Society’s details in a note at the back. Without their continuing work and also their support of Philippa Langley and the Looking for Richard Project team, it’s unlikely that King Richard’s grave would ever have been found (and equally unlikely that The Order of the White Boar would ever have been written).

Many thanks to Isabel Green and the Society for the review.

“Alex Marchant has written a wonderful work of historical fiction for children (and adults); she brings the reader to the world of the medieval page with Matthew, a talented singer, who during his time in the household of the duke and duchess of Gloucester makes good friends, one of whom is their son, Edward. It is refreshing to see Edward portrayed as an interesting and lively boy, albeit with some health issues. Together with their friends, Alys (a redoubtable young lady living in the duchess’s household) and Roger (a fellow page with an ever-optimistic view of life), the foursome form the Order of the White Boar and vow to be loyal to each other and to their lord (the duke) until death – “like real knights”. They spend time drawing up the rituals and rules for the order and have their venture blessed. The Order of the White Boar stand together against the bullying and self-important Hugh, a fellow page, a better swordsman, horseman and son of a knight, who is determined to make Matthew’s life as miserable as possible, as he comes from an inferior position in life and, Hugh feels, has no place as a page in the household of the duke.

When Matthew is chosen to visit London with the Duke (Richard says he will miss Matthew’s singing), as his brother King Edward IV has summoned him to spend Christmas with him and stay whilst parliament conducts its business, he is overawed, and told by Master Kendall, the Duke’s secretary, “Close your mouth, boy, don’t gawp. You mustn’t let these Londoners think we northern folk are overawed by their paltry town.” During this time in London Matthew becomes closer to the Duke and acts as personal page, given the honour of sleeping outside the door – an honour usually reserved for only the most senior pages.

The Order of the White Boar has been well researched, bringing life in a medieval castle to life without endless laborious lecturing. The descriptions and setting of scenes were effective, instantly bringing the picture to mind: you can almost feel the snow and the cold, damp fog, the sunshine and the smell of the grass. This is altogether a very enjoyable book for both children and adults. The list of characters at the beginning of the novel, with real historical figures marked, is very useful, particularly for readers not familiar with this time in history. I really enjoyed reading this book and there will certainly be another, as Alex Marchant mentions in her notes that this is the first book. I await the next with interest.”

Isabel Green

And yes, Isabel, the second book will be on its way very soon. Watch this space!

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About alexmarchantblog

A Ricardian since a teenager, and following stints as an archaeologist and in publishing, Alex now lives and works in King Richard’s own country, not far from his beloved York and Middleham
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