Jasper is a Tudor story with a Breton flavour by Tony Riches. Its full title is Jasper: Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy. Riches continues the Tudor story from Owen, Book One. He takes us from father to the son, Jasper and his wanderings with his nephew, Henry Tudor. Not only was I entertained by the doings of an adventurous life, but I discovered the extent of their sojourn in Brittany.
We meet Jasper, in February 1461 at the moment he flees the battlefield of Mortimer’s Cross, abandoning his father and their dying men. Racked by guilt yet driven by his duty to protect his ward, Henry and his remaining strongholds and men for the defeated King Henry VI, he stumbles upon a wounded Irish soldier. Tempted to steal his horse and weapons and leave the injured man to die, he heeds his better angels. Thus we meet Jasper, a good man with an exacting conscience.
The fast-paced novel covers a lot of ground and time. It begins in 1461, at the moment that fortune favours York during the brutal Wars of the Roses. Riches carries us through Jasper’s tumultuous changing circumstances as powers seesaws between Lancastrians and Yorkists until 1485. He successfully keeps the momentum moving forward during this long timeframe by selecting key events.
A Tudor Fleeing Britain
During one brutal season, Jasper finds himself a penniless, almost friendless outcast, begging for shelter in Brittany or Ireland. The next, a few key nobles turn their coats, and Lancastrian victories see him leading a convoy of troopships or an armed force to Scotland, southern England or back to Wales. Queen Margaret, fighting to regain her husband’s crown and her son’s inheritance, trusts him to regain lost strongholds for his king and queen. Always loyal, troubled by his defeats and flights, and determined to do his duty, Jasper comes alive under Riches’s pen. He fights, forages and masterminds, he finds love, and falls prisoner. Throughout it all, he is true to his duty to his nephew and ward, young Henry Tudor, and his belief in the Tudor destiny.
Jasper, A Well-Rounded Character
Jasper is a well-rounded character. Unlike so many Tudor novels, the story is told from a man’s point of view. This gives the novel a different, and much needed, masculine edge. There are few female characters, and they are rarely central to the action. Battles, sieges, logistics, flight, and political intrigue dominate.
A Tudor Story with a Breton Flavour
Since I write fiction about 16th Century France, and my next novel’s heroine is Anne, the last duchess of an independent Brittany, I chose this novel because of its Tudor with a Breton connection.
Sir Jasper and young Henry Tudor spent several years in Brittany. I knew little about their sojourn in the duchy and wanted to learn more. It was everything I hoped. Not only did I discover the facts I was looking for, but I got the flavour of Brittany at that time. I pictured Duke Francis II of Brittany (Anne’s father) as he aged from Jasper’s point of view. Likewise, King Louis XI of France and Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy came into focus from Jasper’s perspective. I came away with a lively sense of the landscape and the castles he had inhabited. Next, I read Riches’s blog about his research trip to Brittany, a delightful journey for this frustrated traveller. So that’s why I say Jasper is a Tudor story with a Breton flavour.
I recommend the novel to readers who like their historical fiction both action-packed and solidly based on fact.
Jasper: Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy, by Tony Riches
Reviewed by Keira Morgan