Wars of the Roses: Stormbird

Conn Iggulden. Putnam, $27.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-399-16536-8

Iggulden's (The Emperor Series) latest exploration of the past hearkens back to 1443 during a transitional time for England. King Henry VI is nicknamed "The Lamb" because he is known more for his prayers than fortitude, and his advisors fret the French might realize Henry doesn't have the backbone that his father had and could launch an attack. Derihew "Derry" Brewer a close advisor, devises a plan to marry the King to a young, elite French woman to bring about a peace treaty, despite losing land in the process and angering the English, who had fought for it years before. The King's intended, 14-year-old Margaret of Anjou turns out to be a strong woman. As she settles into her new role, a rebellion is led by the outraged English against France's King Charles, dissolving peace between the countries. Henry's throne and the country is thrown into peril with threats from all directions. Iggulden's meticulous research brings history to life, especially with Margaret, showing how a mere child can be transformed into a determined royal. (July)