Are you ready for the Richard III rumble?

Yes, many of us really want you to do this, Mr. Armitage! Witness the following anonymous sentiment:

Source: Richard Armitage Confessions


A quick Richard III links update:


The big event this week is the planned group read of Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour, starting on Sunday night at 9 p.m., U.S. East Coast time, and continuing Sunday nights through February.

Directions for veterans of #ArmitageWatch are found here.

You can also participate via the Institute of Armitage Studies facebook page, here. You can sign up there for a reminder to come and chat on facebook, too.

If you want to sign up for Twitter in order to participate in the chat, but haven’t yet, an explanation of procedures is found at the bottom of this post. The tweetchat “room” for this event will be here.

Fanny plans a free form chat — so be prepared to tweet your impressions, or even a favorite quote from the first five chapters of the book.

First, the geekiness. Now you will see why no one wants to be in a reading group with me.

One thing I like to think about when I’m reading historical novels: the choices the author makes to communicate information about the characters and what those choices mean for our perception of the story.

For instance. This is a novel about war — between rival noble factions in England, the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, each of which seeks to put its representative on the throne — the so-called War of the Roses. We half expect a bloody beginning. Look at all those knights on the cover, blech. But the book opens on the eve of the Battle of Ludford Bridge — a rather anti-climactic battle, as the Yorkist forces realize their armies aren’t going to be willing to oppose King Henry VI himself, and a big chunk of them deserts. So their male leaders, including the father and brothers of the still small Dickon (the nickname for the future king) run before the Lancastrian Army.

The result of this choice: in the first five chapters of the book, the male characters we get to know well are almost all boys or very young men. Although the work is advertised as “A Novel of Richard III,” Dickon is only eight years old as the book opens. The real forces to be reckoned with are Cecily Neville, Richard III’s mother, who’s left behind by the Yorkist army to surrender Ludlow to the Lancastrians in the book’s opening pages, and Margaret of Anjou, queen consort and de facto head of the Lancastrian faction due to her husband‘s otherworldliness and frequent incapacity to govern (he was actually deposed for nine years in the middle of his life). So Penman makes this episode the story of strong women. How does she make the reader perceive the differences between Marguerite and Cecily? And what does Penman mean to say with the contrast?

Second: I’m going to be my usual pain-in-the-tuchus self. I can’t help it. I find the beginning of this book pretty overwrought — but speaking purely as a reader, I definitely love the tiny future king by the end of the first five chapters. So here’s my weekly Richard III / Sunne in Splendour poll question to whet your appetite.

If these questions — or others — interest you, run on over to the group read at twitter or facebook! Deposit your impressions, and see what others have to say!

~ by Servetus on September 30, 2012.

17 Responses to “Are you ready for the Richard III rumble?”

  1. Voted for the security blanket! 🙂 I’m just finishing chapter 4. Marguerite is depicted as heartless, ruthless and vengeful whereas Cecily is a much more sympathetic character. You can tell whose side the author is on. 🙂


    • Historically, Marguerite was a nasty piece of work, but whether she started out that way or her life circumstances pushed her in that direction is open to question. Yes, Penman’s Yorkist bias shows early, but I don’t think it’s unexpected.


      • No it is not unexpected at all! 🙂 Doesn’t bother me…What I found a little surprising is that the City of York is apparently Lancastrian.. How did that come about I wonder. Shouldn’t York be on the side of the Duke of York? Would be too simple, eh? 🙂


      • Well, it’s not the task of a novel to be “unbiased” (whatever that means), but I don’t read the choice of women to start it nor the contrast drawn between them (which is entirely conventional — Margaret of Anjou gets way too much bad press) as a device to in support of Ricardianism. When women are given power in a narrative, it’s more complex than a story of mere political allegiances.


  2. I believe Dickon’s mother tending his wounds–since he was so unused to her care of him like that.

    I’m in the middle of Chapter 4, still reeling from Edmund’s death. Edmund was just a boy (17?), full of fear growing up–unlike his older brother Ned who lived for danger. But danger found Edmund when Clifford murdered him. It turns my stomach.


  3. Pollsters: From my reading of the book, Dickon at the Ludlow Market Cross is not a “sweet” moment when the Lancastrian Army lays siege to Ludlow. Am I missing something?


  4. […] points on her blog Me+RichardArmitage, to kick off the collective reading this week:   Are you ready for the Richard III rumble?     Some further questions and possible discussion entry points are here: […]


  5. Excuse my hijacking! But I am the original admin on the Australian Sharon Kay Penman fan club. This book was Sharon’s first book, prior to this book she was a tax attorney. This is actually the second version if the book as her original manuscript was stolen out of her car and it took her five years before she was able to bring herself to write it again. Sharon is a wonderful person and should any of you find yourself converted to a fan, or just wishing to ask her some of these questions yourself, then join one of her Facebook groups where she has almost daily contact with us. This book was the entrance way for most of her fans to find her and I hope you enjoy it.


    • Thanks and welcome.


    • Hello Fiona I saw her personal page on FB but nothing public enough for me to post as I’ve created the event there as well on the Armitage Institute page. Feel free to share with the groups, hopefully I’m able to find them either way.


      • Hi Fanny!
        Sharon has four pages that she keeps up with, her own personal one, the Sharon Kay Penman Fan Club, the Australian Sharon Kay Penman Fan Club and the Justin de Quincy Fan Club. Feel free to join and in any of them. I can assure you the Aussie Club (mine) has been watching this group for a while because we totally agree that Richard Armitage should be ‘our’ Richard!! And anytime something drifts across my personal wall from you I’ve been sharing with our group and I know that other members of my group are also subscribed to you as well.

        Keep up the great work getting great books noticed!



  6. […] Last week, my comic poll question concerned Dickon’s sweetest moment. Poll results at left. I went with the security blanket — liking the idea that even medieval children had transitional objects. (I also have to say that it sucked that Dickon left it behind — I wondered whether he could sleep after the Channel crossing, or if it was supposed to be an indication that he’d abandoned his childhood.) The clear majority of respondents, however, liked the image of the little boy standing with his mother at the market cross in Ludlow, although at least one commentator objected that this moment can’t be described with the adjective, “sweet.” […]


  7. […] on Facebook, which were brought to our attention by an Australian fan Fiona on Servetus’ blog here. She mentions the following three groups on […]


  8. […] We spent six months doing a group read of her most well-known novel, The Sunne in Splendour, which we called the “Richard III Rumble.” Those posts begin here. […]


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