Book Review Owen by Tony Riches

Owen (Tudor Trilogy, #1)Owen by Tony Riches
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The legacy of King Henry VIII has always fascinated me, but I knew very little about the earlier accounts of the Tudor dynasty. Thus, I selected Owen: Book One of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches to learn more about how the Tudor Dynasty was established. The story of Owen, the great-grandfather of Henry VIII, is as fascinating as the tales about the legendary king. Told in the first-person perspective of Owen, the story begins in 1422 when he first meets his new mistress, Queen Catherine of Valois, the young widow of King Henry V. The queen’s young son, Harry (Henry VI), is crowned King of England and France. Nobles responsible for the young king’s upbringing tightly control the queen’s life and her influence on her son. Owen, serving as the Keeper of the Wardrobe, loyally serves and befriends Queen Catherine and gains her trust. Rumors of Catherine’s affair with the 2nd Duke of Somerset prompts a parliamentary statute that forbids her to remarry until her son comes of age. Soon after, Catherine and Owen fall in love and secretly marry in the backdrop of political turmoil that ultimately leads to the War of Roses.

Author Tony Riches has masterfully written a poignant love story narrated by Owen in the present tense. The moment-by-moment narrative helps the reader more actively engage with Owen’s life journey. The story is rich with vivid descriptions and natural dialogue that highlights Owen’s wit and cleverness. Although his childhood has been shattered by the loss of his Welsh noble parents and heritage, Owen becomes the unlikely second husband to Queen Catherine and the father of her children. Their secret love and marriage have tragic consequences in the backdrop of the War of Roses. Yet Owen’s firstborn son, Edmund, ultimately becomes the father of King Henry VII, the first monarch in the Tudor Dynasty.

Owen: Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve read this year. I highly recommend this book to historical fiction readers, particularly those interested in the Tudor Dynasty.

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Author Interview Tony Riches

Introduction

It is my pleasure to introduce Tony Riches—an author of both best-selling fiction and non-fiction books, a blogger, and a podcaster. He has published several historical fiction books set in the 15th and 16th centuries about one of the most fascinating dynasties in England—the Tudors. I was excited to learn that he lived near the Pembroke Castle which I visited in 2013 and found fascinating.

Below you will find a brief biography, interview, and contact information for Tony Riches.

Author Tony Riches

Biography

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Tudors. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

Author Interview Tony Riches

Would you provide an overview of the newest books or series that you have recently released?

My latest book is the conclusion to my Brandon trilogy, Katherine – Tudor Duchess.  This began as a ‘sequel’ to my best-selling Tudor trilogy, with the intriguing story of Henry VIII’s little sister Mary, who briefly became Queen of France. I visited her home at Westhorpe and became fascinated by the adventures her second husband, champion jouster and best friend of the king, Charles Brandon, so decided to tell the story from his point of view. After Mary died, Charles married a fourteen-year-old heiress, Katherine Willoughby, so her story was perfect for the third book of the trilogy. 

 

What inspired you to write historical fiction about the Tudors in the 15th and 16th centuries?

I was born in Pembroke, birthplace of King Henry VII, so have always been interested in finding out more about his story. I realised many visitors to Pembroke Castle had no idea he was born there, so my wife and I helped raise funding for the life-sized statue of Henry, now in front of the castle, so now he will always be remembered.

Statue of Henry Tudor at Pembroke Castle

How much research was involved in writing your books?

I usually spend at least a year visiting the actual locations, uncovering primary sources and planning each of my books. This has taken me to follow Henry and Jasper Tudor in exile to remote Brittany, although many of the locations are closer to home, as I live in Tudor Wales.

Is there any character that is your favorite in any of the books you have written? Explain why.

Owen Tudor, founder of the dynasty has to be my favourite, as although he came from modest beginnings, that didn’t stop him from secretly marrying the Queen of England and changing history. (Owen was also my first book to earn enough royalties to enable me to become a full-time author.)

Owen Book One of the Tudor Trilogy


How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

I like to stick to the historical facts, so they surprise me all the time. For example, Henry VII is thought of by many as ‘miserly’ but the records show he spent a fortune on his clothes and loved to gamble at cards (he often lost!) Mary Tudor didn’t complain when her brother married her off to the much older and sickly King Louis of France, and Katherine Willoughby risked everything for what she believed in.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

I like hearing from readers, and one comment that I remember was from a mother in the US who said she’d bought all my books to help her son with his school work! Readers sometimes tell me they are descended from characters in my books, or that they are going to travel half way around the world to see the locations for themselves. 

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I need to learn to read medieval French and Latin, as I often find primary sources where I have to rely on someone else’s interpretation.

What might we be surprised to learn about you?

I play the tenor sax and met my wife when we played in a group together – it was called ‘Black Knight’ – a clue to my future career?

What makes you laugh?

Tudor TV dramas, such as when they ‘merged’ Henry VIII’s sisters, Mary and Margaret in ‘The White Queen’. I had to stop watching but still wonder why. Did they not find either interesting enough? Could they not afford two actresses? I also cringed when they made Margaret Beaufort into a scheming villain… and I could never believe Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII – although I was happy with Damian Lewis in ‘Wolf Hall’.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Talking to my two-year-old grandson on Facetime, as he takes video calling entirely for granted – but I’m still amazed that such a thing is possible for free.

Tony Riches, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

 

You can contact Tony Riches and learn more about him at:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Website

Writing blog

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Podcasts

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