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Historical Fiction Review – A Trail of Blood

The ruins of Croyland aka Crowland Abbey


A Trail of Blood by Jeremy Potter

Review by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)


Mr. Potter was the Chairman for the Richard III Society from 1971 until 1989, so you have a well, (if slightly biased) researched story with a decidedly Richardian slant.  I tend to stay away from Princes in the Tower stories, I am usually left a bit cold by either a heavy handed. “Big bad Richard” or the equally obnoxious who done it, with the usual suspects.  But refreshingly this is told with a distance of a generation between events and the time period our protagonists live in.

The dissolution of the monasteries has begun, the smaller religious houses having already been sacrificed in hopes that the larger more powerful abbeys and monasteries will be left in peace.  The great fenland Abbey of Croyland aka Crowland is the setting.  A young monk is asked to investigate the possibility that Richard Duke of York could be alive, and if he is, could he be persuaded to come back to challenge Henry VIII.  To save the religious houses which face extinction, to take his rightful place as king, and to be the savior of the true faith in England.

I have to say I loved this story, loved it!  It was, as I said before, it is not your run of the mill lost princes story.  It deals with the changing face of England. After all, the War of the Roses is within living memory, and by the time Richard III was killed at Bosworth I don’t believe many people care who ruled as long as the hostilities ended. So the reign of Henry VII was one of relative peace and rebuilding.  No matter what your view point of Henry VII, he was the one left standing and had the pedigree to rule.   The church was so corrupt that anyone who had the wit to see knew that. It was also the largest land owner in the country and had wealth just waiting to be pillaged. Henry VIII with Thomas Cromwell’s help did just that.

But the real story is Thomas’ journey reexamining the time after Richard III’s death and those pretenders that came forward to challenge Henry VII’s reign from Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel.  The main question becomes, if Richard Duke of York had survived why had he not come forward?  And, could they stop the dissolution of the monasteries or was it too late?  If this is a time period which interests you I think that you will like the tale Mr. Potter spins, whether you are Lancastrian or Richardian it gives food for thought.

4 stars.

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