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Publication Order of Kingmaker Books

“Kingmaker” is a series of novels by Toby Clements, a former literary editor and journalist on “The Daily Telegraph” before he quit to become a full-time author. He has always loved fifteenth-century history and the “Wars of the Roses” was an obsession. He came to love the period ever since he visited Tewkesbury, one of the major battlefields of the era as a child. Clements read all the material he could find on the period and the wars, and even though most literature was about the nobility, he decided to take a different direction. He consumed everything he could find on life during the period and spent several long weekends on reenactment camps on the continent and in the United Kingdom. During this time, he learned how to bake bread, use the longbow, brew ale, fight with the poleaxe, and even tan leather just like the medieval people would have done. Clements would eventually become more interested in the common folks’ way of life, how they fought and died and how they loved rather than the dealings of the elite. As such, the “Kingmaker” novels are an ode to the resilience and courage of the people in addition to being rollicking and simple adventure stories.

Toby Clements’s writing influences are a combination of the works of several writers. He has found inspiration from all manner of writers though he has always dreamed of writing in “Hilary Mantel” prose just like Bernard Cornwell. As for his “Kingmaker” series of novels he has said that he used to school near Tewkesbury as a child and got to visit the place every school break. They would usually study the period that led to one of the most famous battles of the period and they would get an idea of the battleground. However, it was the sight of the sacristy door of the abbey that had been reinforced with pieces of plate that had been salvaged from the battlefield that fascinated him. It is a great example of the ingenuousness of the period and a reapplication o something of so much significance. The reuse of plate armor that could probably have been worn by someone that died wearing it was profound. The fact that it was being used for such an ordinary purpose got him thinking.

The “Kingmaker” series of novels by Toby Clements is an attempt to pitch the reader into the “War of the Roses” era even though few have ever been so good at this. The novels exemplify historical authenticity but the details are softly delivered a subtly painted. Through the lives of the different characters, we get deep insights into religion and the way of life of the nobility, ordinary soldiers, and peasants. “Kingmaker” shows that for most people that lived in the 15th-century, life was brutal, sharp, and short. However, these are not the details that make the series excellent but rather it is the stories. Toby Clements writes with rare panache and verve by painting the life of two tortured but sympathetic lead protagonists. Katherine and Thomas go on both an internal and external journey that is as complex as it is perilous. However, they are also characters that are very human which is what makes their journey so appealing. The battle scenes are brutal but are wonderfully described as Clements paints the struggles as gory and filthy just like they were. The Kingmaker stories grab one by the scruff of the neck and have them enthralled from the first page right to the last.

“Winter Pilgrims” by Toby Clements is the first novel of the “Kingmaker” series of novels set in 1460. It opens with a young nun getting caught outside the convent by a corrupt knight and an equally vicious entourage. A fight ensues and the knight is defeated by a young monk that comes to her rescue. But the fight has far-reaching consequences as Katherine and Thomas are expelled from their orders and left to fend for themselves during the “Wars of the Roses,” one of the most bloody and savage civil wars in history. They flee across the Channel to Calais, where Thomas decides to become a soldier training alongside the Yorkist troops. Katherine disguises herself as a man and works on her healing and observation skills both off and on the battlefield. All around them enemies and friends fall as Edward the Earl of March and his friend the Earl of Warwick that would later be known as the “Kingmaker” make preparations for a huge offensive. The novel dives into the battles of Mortimer’s Cross, Northampton, and the ultimate slaughter of Towton. It chronicles the experiences of the war from the perspective of both the nobles and the ordinary women and men who fight to stay alive.

“Broken Faith” the second novel of the “Kingmaker” series is set two years following the “Battle of Towton” that had been one of the most brutal. Katherine believes Thomas fell on the battlefield and is now living a very different life. But the man just suffered a traumatic injury but is very much alive though he is suffering from amnesia. The two eventually find their way to each other and Edward whom they had supported becomes king and Henry VI goes into hiding in the Northumbrian castles. But things turn sour and the two and their merry band decide to switch their loyalty to the House of Lancaster after ditching the House of York. The most important component that determines their fate is the ledger given to Thomas and Katherine by the Pardoner. It had gotten lost in Towton but it reappears and the explosive secret within its pages could change everything and return the country back to war. Armed with the ledger, Katherine and Thomas travel to Lancasterian strongholds of Northumberland to find the former king. They join up with the entourage of a Lancastrian baron and prove their loyalty by making available their surgical, archery skills and strength to the cause.

“Divided Souls,” the third novel of the “Kingmaker” series is a wonderful story of believable characters living in brutal and hard times. Thomas and Katherine endure their own hardships and tribulations during the year 1469, which was the height of the “Wars of the Roses.” Edward of York is King of England that is in turmoil with most of the claimants from the House of Lancaster locked up in the Tower or in exile. The earl of Warwick who has made a name for himself as kingmaker is now scheming and plotting against Edward the king his former ally and now foe. He succeeds and at some point imprisons the king only to release him without providing any reasons for his actions. But to prevent any more trouble from his former ally, he allows the Duke of Clarence who is also the king’s brother to marry Isobel his daughter. What follows is an intriguing story of defeat and victory, betrayal and loyalty, hate and love as the protagonists are driven by lust, greed for power, and kingship.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Kingmaker

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