Thursday 31 October 2013

Review ~ The King's Grave by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones

St Martin's Press
October 2013

The idea that an anointed King of England could have lain undisturbed for the last 500 years under the concrete of a Leicestershire car park caused a flurry of excitement. Along with the rest of the world, I waited in hopeful anticipation that the achingly vulnerable skeletal remains would indeed prove to be those of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings and the last king of England to be killed in battle.

In The King’s Grave, both authors give their view on the results of the archaeological dig, which took place in the summer of 2012. From Michael Jones, we are given the historical background into the life and times of Richard III, putting into context, not just Richard’s fight for the crown, but also shedding light on the complicated politics which followed the premature death of Edward IV, in 1483. Philippa Langley’s epic contribution demonstrates her absolute conviction that Richard lay beneath the letter “R” in the social services car park, and demonstrates her dogged determination in getting this project, which was so dear to her heart, from the planning stages to its ultimate conclusion.

The book is exceptionally user friendly. It enthrals like a well written historical novel, with at its centre the almost unbelievable story that a King of England could have been left alone and vulnerable for so long. As we know, the events which unfolded as Richard’s remains were uncovered are far from fiction, and only the absolute conviction from those enthusiasts who gave so willingly of their time, money and energy, meant that this project ever saw the light of day.

I stayed up long and late to finish this book, interspersing my time, with watching clips of the dig, which can be easily found on YouTube. I found the whole project fascinating to behold, not just the professionalism of those who had the difficult task of extracting Richard’s skeleton but also in the sheer skill of those experts who gave so willingly of their time to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Richard, the last Plantagenet King of England, had indeed been found.

My thanks to NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for my ecopy of this book.

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