The Wars of the Roses is the second book by Alison Weir I’ve read, and it definitely tells me there’s no need to stop here. The writing is good, and gives a great overview of what is a legendarily confusing period of English history. This actually a successor/prequel book to her early book, The Princes in the Tower, which is about the final act of the Wars of the Roses; the contest between Richard III and Henry VII (née Tudor), and the fate of the children of Edward IV.

Therefore, this book is actually about the rest. Starting with the deposition of Richard II, Weir spends quite some time of the shaky political footing of the Lancastrian Henry IV, and the successful Henry V, before moving on to the reign of Henry VI, and the large number of political problems that led to the Lancastrian-Yorkish struggle that forms the bulk of the Wars of the Roses, and ends with Tewksbury and the death Henry VI. The book is about evenly split by length between the lead up, and then the multiple armed crises.

There are a lot of names that fly by, and several people change names (titles) during the course of events, and despite efforts, Weir does not entirely clear up the confusion that results. I think this is a subject that really needs a dramatis personae to refer to. Geneological charts are provided, but were stuck in the very back of the Kindle edition I read, with a link to a web page with a larger reproduction, so I didn’t know of it until I was finished.

Another problem is that while she establishes the state of 15th-century England well at the beginning, and talks about how little disruption of life actually resulted from the wars at the end, this isn’t really mentioned during the bulk of the book, forcing one to perhaps have to correct some opinions after the fact.

Still, in all I did enjoy it and found it informative and recommend it. The main niggling worry I have is that since The Princes in the Tower was her first book, it may not be as good a companion to this as might be wished.