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on March 05, 2013 :
Love and war might both be like chess, and the analogy is appealing. Lowly pawn Rose is plucked from her abusive home to serve as friend to the Kingmaker’s daughter, and so begins a relationship where the pawn strides bravely across the board, only to seem lost, then queened and lost again. It’s the time of the War of the Roses. The Kingmaker will lose his footing on the road to controlling the throne. Military weaknesses will be probed. Sneak attacks will demolish almost certain victories. Alliances will shift. And Rose will rise and fall between village poverty and lordly castle, learning on the way to care for the sick, heal the dying, and offer support to the embattled powers of the land.
With evocative descriptions of scenery (I love Yorkshire), recreating village life and luxurious castle with equal conviction, offering fascinating details and insights into healthcare, childcare, family ties, politics and more, Juliet Waldron’s Roan Rose is a truly fascinating epic tale of one woman’s survival.
With great power comes great responsibility of course—responsibilities not always shouldered well by the world’s leaders, then or now. But small powers include responsibility too, and this novel shines in the ethical trials of a woman who knows how to heal and save, and who loves too deeply to betray but ends up torn in two. The chess game didn’t convince me, but the rest of the story did. And people are more important than pawns anyway.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to “buy” a free ecopy of this novel.
(reviewed long after purchase)