This Son of York
by Anne Easter Smith
Publication Date: November 10, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 504 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
“Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by This Son of York…” — William Shakespeare, Richard III
Richard III was Anne’s muse for her first five books, but, finally, in This Son of York he becomes her protagonist. The story of this English king is one of history’s most compelling, made even more fascinating through the discovery in 2012 of his bones buried under a car park in Leicester.
This new portrait of England’s most controversial king is meticulously researched and brings to vivid life the troubled, complex Richard of Gloucester, who ruled for two years over an England tired of war and civil strife. The loyal and dutiful youngest son of York, Richard lived most of his short life in the shadow of his brother, Edward IV, loyally supporting his sibling until the mantle of power was thrust unexpectedly on him.
Some of his actions and motives were misunderstood by his enemies to have been a deliberate usurpation of the throne, but throughout his life, Richard never demonstrated any loftier ambitions than to honorably discharge his duty to his family and his country.
In a gentler vein, despite the cruel onset of severe scoliosis in his teens, Richard did find love, first with a lover and then in his marriage to Anne Neville. Between these two devoted women in his life, he sired three and perhaps four children.
Bringing the Plantagenet dynasty to a violent end, Richard was the last king of England to die in battle. This Son of York is a faithful chronicle of this much maligned man.
Excerpt from This Son of York by Anne Easter Smith (Richard of Gloucester meets his soon-to-be mistress, Kate Haute)
At first Richard was unaware of their wandering for several miles, because the game was so bountiful. Rob felled a deer with his crossbow, a weapon he had become renowned for at Middleham, and Phoenix had delighted Richard by taking a hare the first time the bird was sent aloft, and an hour later the raptor had surprised an unlucky quail.
The huntsmen had ridden through several copses and crossed several clearings following another deer, but it was when they entered a particularly dense grove of trees that the two friends had to admit they were lost.
“’Tis Suffolk, not the wilds of Scotland,” Rob said cheerily, “I shall go this way and find a path, never fear. You stay here and listen for my horn.” A hare skittered out of the underbrush and, without thinking, Richard snatched the hood from Phoenix’s head. Immediately seeing its prey, Phoenix began bating, impatient to be off Richard’s wrist. Untying the jesses and flinging the bird aloft, Richard watched the elegant bird soar high above the tree tops, the telltale tinkling bell dangling from its leg.
“Christ’s nails! What a fool,” he muttered to himself. Had he not been taught that one should only release a hawk out in the open?
“Ho, Rob! Where are you?” he shouted. A wail from Rob’s horn gave Richard a clue, and the dogs began barking and running in its direction. Twenty yards farther, Richard bent over his horse’s neck to avoid a low branch and found himself in a clearing, unaware Rob and his groom were already there staring at a young woman attempting to hide behind her flaxen-colored horse.
Intent on reclaiming his falcon, Richard had eyes only for Phoenix, who had snared and dispatched the hare in its powerful talons, daring the dogs to come a beak’s length closer. Richard whistled the bird back onto his wrist, hooded and praised him before realizing he was not alone.
“There you are,” he said, nudging his mount to join Rob.
It was then he saw her.
“Who is this?” Rob pre-empted Richard’s own question and moved his horse closer, forcing the lovely young woman to back up into the woods, pulling her horse with her.
Richard sidled his mount between Rob and the anxious girl and assured her they would not harm her. Huge amber eyes gazed up at him with an intriguing mixture of fear and defiance, and he felt a strange jolt of recognition. Or was it something else? It was similar to the pleasurable rush of blood he used to experience when he looked at Isabel, but this seemed to take the wind from him. He drank in the wild mass of bronze hair, the freckles on her straight nose, the generous mouth, and the long fingers clutching her jennet’s leading rein, and he was entranced. He had thought Isabel beautiful, but she was but a spring windflower to this summer rose.
He found his voice again, telling Rob, “Leave her be. Maybe she knows the road to Stoke.”
It seemed Richard’s calm reply quelled her fear for she suddenly smiled at him. Again a flash of recognition allowed him to smile in return. “Do I know you, mistress? I am…” He was about to give his formal title when something made him hesitate. Would it make her uneasy or, worse, run away? He wanted to stay and take in the beauty of her for ever. However, sensing Rob was about to reveal his identity, he quickly introduced himself as Dickon, “and this is my friend Rob. I confess we are lost. Perhaps you can help us.”
He was right; plain “Dickon” unbound her tongue.
“I am called Kate. Katherine Haute, an it please you, sirs.” More at ease now with the two young men, she chattered on about being new to the county, having recently arrived from Kent with her husband.
Husband? The word took Richard aback. Kate looked only about a year older than he was—about Isabel’s age, he thought, although her figure was more fully formed. It also meant she was spoken for. Spoken for? What am I thinking? Judging by her clothes and her lack of escort even by a groom, she was obviously beneath him socially, so why should her status matter? His mind was sorting out these details until Kate mentioned a name he recognized.
“Martin Haute? Is he not a retainer of Sir John Howard?”
Kate nodded eagerly, happy to have recognition from this kind, good-looking youth. Richard’s first instincts had been correct; he had encountered Kate Haute before somewhere, but he could not call it to mind. Kate, on the other hand could; she remembered he was not plain Dickon, but Richard, duke of Gloucester, who had heard her sing the night of King Edward’s coronation. She was not, however, about to spoil the excitement and confess. Agreeing to lead them back to her husband’s home in Chelsworth a mile from where they were standing, she assured the two young men her mother-in-law would put them on the right road to Stoke.
Richard was elated. The ride to Chelsworth would give him more time to observe this enticing creature, and, transferring Phoenix to his groom’s glove, he dismounted to help Kate back onto her horse. Before he could remount his own palfrey, Kate wheeled hers round, and plunged back into the woods.
It was all Richard and Rob could do to keep up with her, as she galloped across meadows, her mane of hair streaming behind her, until a modest manor house on the edge of a village emerged in the distance.
“I’d follow her anywhere, wouldn’t you Richard?” Rob said breathlessly, a gleam in his eye.
His friend nodded silently, and, as though in a daze, he muttered, “and I must.”
Although he did not yet know it, fifteen-year-old Richard Plantagenet had fallen in love.
Lisbon, Summer 1339
The gleaming walls of the moorish castle, still standing sentinel after centuries on one of Lisbon’s many hills, dominated the horizon against an almost purple sky that late July afternoon.
About the Author
Anne is the award-winning author of The King’s Grace and the best-selling A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, Queen By Right, and Royal Mistress. She is an expert on Richard III, having studied the king and his times for decades. Her sixth book, This Son of York, will be published soon. She grew up in England, Germany and Egypt, and has been a resident/citizen of the US since 1968. Anne was the Features Editor at a daily newspaper in northern New York State for ten years, and her writing has been published in several national magazines.
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