Note: This is the second part in a series, so the short description might include hints about how things ended in the first part, Winter pilgrims.
After the bloody battle of Towton, Edward IV sits on the English throne. Catherine, mourning Thomas, has married Richard Fakenham under the disguise of Margaret Cronford. But when the whole village turns against her, she is locked again at Haverhurst Priory. Thomas, returned from the death, and Catherine now have to run for their lives as an old enemy returns to their doorstep. Bearing proof of a royal secret, they travel to the north where the Lancastrians are waiting to fight for their rightful king Henry VI.
This is the second part in the kingmaker series. Winter Pilgrims ended at Towton, so I though the next battle would be Barnet, but I was wrong. This book is set in the years after Towton (1463-1464) when there are some small battles in the north between Lancaster and York. Lancaster was occupying castles such as Bamburgh and Alnwick, while Margaret of Anjou and her son were living as exiles in France to force alliances. I have never read before about the Battles of Hedgeley Moor and Evesham, especially not from a Lancastrian view, so I liked this perspective.
But the beginning of the story is a mess. Catherine and Thomas need to get together again and for that Clemens invents some unbelievable story lines. The story only picks up after discovering the secret in the ledger. Although I was a bit disappointed as to what the secret contained. It always comes down to the same ‘secret’ in every novel about this period it seems. The pair decides to travel to the north, Catherine once again in the disguise of Kit. We meet some new characters along the way: Jack, John Stump and master Payne.
Although this is part of the Kingmaker series, we don’t actually meet Warwick or any of the other Yorkists. We do get Henry VI and John Beaufort, the earl of Somerset, but they are more secondary characters. Of course, the Rivens are back to haunt Thomas and Catherine. We also learn more about the medical knowledge at the time. The ending is great, but the whole plot felt like an in-between story. There are still two more books to come in this series and I’m curious to see where they will take our two main characters next.