The Traitor’s Son – A Novel by Wendy Johnson - The Anne Boleyn Files (2024)

The Traitor’s Son – A Novel by Wendy Johnson - The Anne Boleyn Files (1)
Thank you to Wendy Johnson for visiting The Anne Boleyn Files as part of the book/blog tour for her debut novel, The Traitor’s Son, which is about the early life of King Richard III. I was able to read an advance copy and it really is a wonderful read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Its out now, so do grab a copy.

Over to Wendy…

Everyone, it seems, has heard of King Richard III. For those familiar with Shakespeare’s play the king is little more than a pantomime villain, a disfigured psychopath wading through blood to the throne. Conversely, those who are dissatisfied with the Bard, anxious to get closer to historical truth, quickly become aware of what is known as ‘The Great Debate’. For over four hundred years, ever since the close of the Tudor dynasty, writers and historians have battled incessantly over the character of the real Richard III. Was he a ruthless nobleman, destroying everyone in his path, including his nephews, the ‘Princes in the Tower’, until he finally laid hands on the crown of England? Or was he an enlightened administrator and ruler, courageous and noble in battle, dispensing justice impartially to rich and poor alike?

So fundamentally entrenched are these historical divisions that twentieth century supporters of the king banded together in 1924 to form what has become the Richard III Society, an organisation with an international membership, dedicated to reassessing Richard’s reputation through exhaustive research into the life and times of the last Plantagenet king. The dispute rages unabated and was dramatically reignited in 2012 by Philippa Langley’s sensational unearthing of Richard’s lost grave beneath a car park in Leicester. But despite the discovery of new evidence, both documentary and physical, much still remains unknown about this most famous member of the illustrious House of York.

The Traitor’s Son – A Novel by Wendy Johnson - The Anne Boleyn Files (2)
Enter the historical novelist. Where gaps in our knowledge remain, where questions are unanswered, where motive and character are illusive, the historical novelist steps into the void; filling the vacuum with carefully crafted people, places and events. It is in this long-established tradition that I have studied what is known of Richard’s childhood and youth, from a frightened boy of eight to a determined warrior of eighteen, and attempted to supply what is missing, what history has kept secret. The result is The Traitor’s Son, a very personal retelling of Richard’s dramatic and dangerous formative years; a catalogue of vivid experiences which shaped a future king. At the heart of this story is a family – Richard’s family – sometimes close, sometimes dysfunctional, but always recognisable in its humanity and frailty. Richard’s beloved father and rightful heir to the throne, Richard duke of York, slain in battle; his formidable mother, Cecily, matriarch of the House of York; his eldest brother, the mighty Edward IV, saviour of the family; his middle brother, George duke of Clarence, proud, petulant, by turns Richard’s best friend and fiercest rival; his thoughtful and prudent sister, Margaret, wise beyond her years; and his illustrious cousin, Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, known to history as ‘The Kingmaker’. And it is in this relationship with Warwick that Richard finds a surrogate father, a figure to supply the needs of a sensitive and wounded boy, the aching chasm left by the death of the most loved and revered figure in his young life. For Warwick too, England’s premier noble, the man who has everything, Richard becomes the son he never had.

The Traitor’s Son – A Novel by Wendy Johnson - The Anne Boleyn Files (3)
But while Warwick and Richard draw close, Warwick and Edward drift apart. The Kingmaker had worked tirelessly to put Edward on the throne, during those perilous days when the House of York, reeling from the death of Richard’s father, looked all but doomed. But Edward’s reckless marriage to the widow of a Lancastrian knight, secretly consummated while Warwick was searching overseas for a regal bride, divided the family in two. Warwick and George rebel, taking up arms against Edward, and the upstart influence of the queen’s lowly relatives. Richard is backed into a corner, compelled to take sides, to make a choice he doesn’t want to make. He strives against hope to bring the warring factions together, but to no avail. The die is cast—Richard feels honour bound to pledge himself to Edward, his anointed king, and head of the House of York—and, inevitably, it is the battlefield which awaits.

So what kind of a man has the eighteen-year-old Richard become by the time he faces Warwick’s army at Barnet Heath? Has the surviving evidence of his boyhood and adolescence led me to discern dark and ruthless tendencies, or have I perceived a loyal, devout and upright young nobleman? This is what I hope readers will discover for themselves as they follow the early turbulent years of a boy born into a noble family at the centre of a political storm: the Wars of the Roses. Richard, the son of a man branded a traitor by his enemies – The Traitor’s Son.

You can catch up with Wendy on the other stops on her tour and enjoy her guest articles – just click on the image below to enlarge and see all the details:

The Traitor’s Son

The Traitor’s Son – A Novel by Wendy Johnson - The Anne Boleyn Files (5)ISBN: 978-84-125953-7-6

“Exquisitely written. An evocative and thoughtful retelling of the early life of Richard III.” Philippa Langley, MBE

Book blurb

Caught between a king and a kingmaker, young Richard Plantagenet knows he’ll have to choose…

1461: Richard Duke of York, King by Right, has been branded a traitor and slain by his Lancastrian foes. For his eight-year-old son—Richard Plantagenet—England has become a dangerous place.

As the boy grapples with grief and uncertainty, his elder brother, Edward, defeats the enemy and claims the throne. Dazzled by his glorious sibling, young Richard soon discovers that imperfections lurk beneath his brother’s majestic façade. Enter Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick—cousin, tutor, luminary—whose life has given him everything but that which he truly craves: a son. A filial bond forms between man and boy as they fill the void in each other’s lives. Yet, when treachery tears their world asunder, Richard faces an agonizing dilemma: pledge allegiance to Edward—his blood brother and king—or to Warwick, the father figure who has shaped his life and affections.

Painfully trapped between duty and devotion, Richard faces a grim reality: whatever he decides will mean a fight to the death.

In “The Traitor’s Son”, Wendy Johnson masterfully weaves a tapestry of loyalty, love, and sacrifice against the backdrop of England’s turbulent history. Through the eyes of a young Richard III, readers are transported into a world where every choice is fraught with peril, and the bonds of kinship are tested to their limits. As Richard Plantagenet navigates the explosive tensions within his own family, readers are swept along on a journey of intrigue and passion that will leave them spellbound until the final page.

Wendy Johnson

The Traitor’s Son – A Novel by Wendy Johnson - The Anne Boleyn Files (6)Wendy has a lifelong passion for medieval history, its people, and for bringing their incredible stories to life. Her specific areas of interest are the fifteenth century, the Wars of the Roses, and Richard III in particular. She enjoys narratives which immerse the reader in the past, and tries faithfully to recreate the later Middle Ages within in her own writing. She has contributed to a number of historical anthologies and was a runner up in the Woman and Home Short Story Competition 2008.

A member of the Richard III Society since 1986, Wendy is also a founder member of Philippa Langley’s Looking for Richard Project, which located the king’s lost grave in 2012. She co-authored Finding Richard III: the Official Account of Research by the Retrieval and Reburial Project in 2014, and in 2019 received the Richard III Society’s Robert Hamblin Award.

THE TRAITOR’S SON, volume one in a Richard III trilogy, is Wendy’s debut novel and she is currently working on the sequel.

The Traitor’s Son – A Novel by Wendy Johnson - The Anne Boleyn Files (2024)
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