For anyone that knows me, they know I have a fascination with the Tudors. I even have a set of coasters with a picture of Henry VIII’s wives on each one which I use on a regular basis! I have read and loved so much historic fiction from the Tudor period; soaking up all the political intrigue and dangers of the time. So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to read and review the latest Tudor novel from Joanna Hickson – The Lady of the Ravens.
I’m very happy to say The Lady of the Ravens didn’t disappoint, fully immersing me in the precarious and political world of Henry VII’s reign. For all of you that love historical fiction focusing on the Tudors, believe me, you’ll love this latest read.
So who was the Lady of the Ravens? She was a real life historical figure – Joan Vaux who was sent to be a companion to Elizabeth of York before her marriage to Henry VII. Elizabeth and Henry’s marriage began as a political union with Henry marrying Elizabeth to end the fighting between the Tudors and the Yorks, cementing his precarious claim to the English throne.
I had never heard of Joan Vaux before reading this book, but I found her to be a very interesting character – full of warmth and humanity. I found myself googling her and was interested to learn that later in her life she contributed to a very important part of history.
Narrated in the first person, we are first introduced to Joan when she is 21 years old. In the opening page of the novel she recalls an old legend that has haunted her from childhood that as long as ravens continue to roost at the Tower of London, the kingdom will stand. If they leave, the kingdom will fall.
This is the symbolic theme that runs throughout this novel, fully enhancing its depth and political intrigue.
As the novel spans years and Joan dedicates her life to the new Tudor dynasty, she fights to protect the ravens with many viewing them as dirty scavengers and the archers at the Tower using them for target practice.
With ‘olive skin and dark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing‘ Joan feels a real affinity with the ravens. Like the birds, Joan always has to be on alert, continually using her eyes, senses and intelligence to navigate the political unrest that surrounds her. She meets strong resistance along the way – and enemies too. Yet as she follows her integrity, she finds friendship and love along the way too.
The Lady of the Ravens is a fascinating read, rich in historic detail. I really like how Joanna Hickson uses Joan to portray the important role women played to help secure the royal dynasty, as well as conveying in unsettling detail the personal sacrifices women had to make. For example, Joan never wanted to marry but the King practically forced her to.
As a real history buff I found myself totally immersed in this book – and I loved that! 🙂 I learnt so much reading this book, especially the day-to-day, intrinsic role women played in the politics of the time.
The Lady of the Ravens truly is a fascinating read.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour of The Lady of the Ravens. Thank you also, along with Harper Collins for my advance copy in return for my honest review.
To read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers also on the blog tour of The Lady of the Ravens, please see below.
The Lady of the Ravens was published by Harper Collins on Thursday 9th January 2020.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂