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To the Tower Born - Robin Maxwell

The fate of the princes in the tower, the young sons of Edward IV who disappeared just before twelve-year old Edward was to be crowned as Edward V, is a mystery that has fascinated people for 500 years.


This treatment of the story treads a fine line between historical fiction and rather fanciful alternate history. I’ll give Maxwell credit for coming up with an unusual solution to the mystery. It’s unfortunate, though, that the basis of the story is founded on such stereotyped, almost cartoonish, depictions of the main players. Elizabeth Woodeville and Margaret Beaufort are scheming vilainesses (what other explanation could there be for women involving themselves in such important events?) Saintly Richard III is wronged by false friends. Elizabeth of York is plucky and down-to-earth, though strangely driven by vitriolic hatred of her mother (justified because her mother is an Evil Queen). Nell is Bessie’s best friend and Nancy Drew-like sidekick who just happens to be an extremely well-educated commoner, daughter of printer-to-the-stars William Caxton but worldly enough to have some prostitute friends ready to help at a moment’s notice.


All of this goes down with plenty of As you know, Bob to make sure we’re keeping up, but even that can’t help as the story gets less and less plausible. It’s readable enough entertainment, but in the crowded field of princes-in-the-tower books, there are better options.