The basis for this novel is a true story. When John, 9th Lord Clifford, was killed at the battle of Towton his children were in great danger. While his younger son was sent overseas, Henry, the older son, was sent into hiding in the north of England. He was entrusted to his former wet nurse, and to her shepherd husband, and for the next two decades was raised in safety before emerging to reclaim his title after Henry Tudor's victory at the Battle of Bosworth.
Algar had taken the limited facts known to us about this period, combined them with some local traditions (many recorded in ballads), and then filled the gaps with his own take on events to produce an entertaining novel that followed the young Henry during the period between the two battles, and from his original refuge in Yorkshire to final safety in Westmorland. This main central section is almost entirely fictional, as very little is known about Henry's life in this period. The main character, Tom Lawkland, the shepherd who raises Henry as his son, is also fictional, but is a well thought-out figure.
Algar also includes two poems that mention the story, the most interesting being The Nut Brown Maid, a poem that was almost lost before being rescued by Samuel Pepys.
This is an entertaining read that tells one of those amazing true stories that are almost stranger than fiction in the first place. I look forward to the planned sequel, which will look at Henry's life after his return to public life.
Author: Peter Algar
Publisher: Melrose Books