K.M. Butler’s new book, The Welsh Dragon, is a compelling tale of loyalty, betrayal, and danger, rich in historical detail. The dramatic novel opens as fourteen-year-old Henry Tudor and his uncle Jasper Tudor flee England, first to Wales, and then to France after the Lancastrian defeat in 1471. Blown off-course by storms, the small party of fugitives land in Brittany where their destiny strands them for more than a decade.
The Breton Connection
Henry’s Lancastrian blood poses a threat to the restored Yorkist king, Edward IV, who tries to execute all who have claims to the English throne. Henry finds his path beset by disappointments, betrayals, and chilling, hairsbreadth escapes from death. Safeguarded by both his Uncle Jasper and his wily mother, who protects his interests in England, he learns the hard lesson that he cannot escape his destiny much as he might wish to when he falls in love. During the fifteen years of his exile, he matures from a callow and penniless hostage to fortune to the capable and acknowledged leader of the Lancastrian affinity. On the eve of the Battle of Bosworth Field, he is ready to take the calculated risks necessary to fight for the English throne.
Retelling Henry Tudor’s Story
This retelling of the Welsh Dragon, Henry Tudor’s climb to the English crown is a deftly handled adventure, filled with love and loyalty; betrayal and danger; bitter disappointments and times of hope. Although the action occurs primarily through Henry’s eyes, Butler presents scenes through the eyes of other key characters such his mother, Margaret Beaufort, and his uncle Jasper scenes to shed light on elements of the conflict that are hidden from Henry. This heightens the suspense.
Since the action takes place over many years, Butler telescopes the action to critical turning points. Through the effective use of memories, dialogue and narrative, he maintains our understanding of intervening events. He also creates a world in which the complex interplay of the French, Breton, Burgundian, Lancastrian and Yorkist interests unfold without either boring or confusing his readers. The gripping events are vivid, full of the sights, sounds, smells, and texture of the time, and the characters experience all the fears, surprise and anxiety natural to people who, unlike us, do not know the outcome of the events.
I read the book in one sitting and came away with an altered understanding of the challenges facing French and Breton rulers—a particular interest of mine—as well as a much more human view of the dour King Henry VII.
I highly recommend this well-written, insightful, action-filled novel.
—Keira Morgan, author of Chronicles of the House of Valois series