Aya Kanno’s take on the War of the Roses continues with the coronation of Henry VI. The art shines but the focus is, as always, on Richard’s inner monologue as the political and social scene continues to change in a turbulent England.
Story: Richard’s thoughts are never far from Henry even as he endeavors to save his brother Edward from Warwick’s clutches. Disguised as a woman, he will do the impossible – but at what cost? Warwick, meanwhile, knows he has a malleable pawn in the form of Henry and quickly moves to see him crowned. But all Henry wants is peace – and more of his savior angel, Richard. Anne, Warwick’s daughter and Richard’s former betrothed, finds herself married to potential king in exile Edward. But the tide is turning on both the weak Henry and the frustrated Richard. And as Richard continues to straddle the male and female (while belonging to neither), he must navigate a confusing web of emotions and desires – both his and of those who desire him or desire to use him. Henry’s fragile grasp on reality begins to wane….
While Kanno sticks close to the facts, of course there are many liberties taken. Obviously, we aren’t going to be given a true historical rather than a very melodramatic look at the era. But as entertainment and also a glimpse of history, Requiem does quite well. Henry’s weakness, Richard’s precarious position, the continually shifting political situation, Edward’s opportunistic nature – it’s a very interesting look at the end of the War of the Roses (one that would see the beginning of the Tudor line, leading to Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I).
I’ve found it a good idea to keep Wikipedia handy to help further define the historical characters. It can get a bit confusing but the extra bit of research really brings the whole situation to life. That said, since this is an emotional story focusing on Richard, it’s not necessary for the enjoyment of the series. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.