Within The Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Richard II was the son of the great warrior Edward, The Black Prince and the grandson of King Edward III. When The Black Prince, heir to the throne of England, predeceased the King, his young son was suddenly the heir apparent. Historically, child kings have always caused a measure of unrest, and this held true when Richard ascended to the throne at the tender age of 10 years old. One might think that having four strong uncles would help hold the throne for Richard in his youth, but when the uncles see a boy-king as a chance to consolidate their own power and perhaps even take the crown for themselves one day, they can be exceedingly dangerous. Indeed, there is open animosity between Richard and his youngest uncle, Gloucester. For instance, when Richard successfully put down the Peasant’s revolt at the age of 14, his uncle Gloucester reversed the good he had down by ordering executions where Richard had promised amnesty.
I really enjoy Margaret Campbell Barnes’ take on the history of England in general. However, I didn’t find “Within The Hollow Crown” to be quite as good as some of her other work. One thing in particular that really bothered me were her transitions, which were occasionally jarring from one chapter to another, things simply didn’t seem to flow, and I felt that at the beginning of each chapter I really had to pay extra attention to figure out how much time had elapsed since the end of the previous chapter. I was so excited to read about Richard II, since I have never encountered any fiction about him, but I just didn’t find myself terribly invested in him.
I definitely recommend the historical fiction of Margaret Campbell Barnes and am really pleased that Sourcebooks is reissuing them so they can be more easily found in the U.S., but I don’t think I would recommend you start with “Within The Hollow Crown,” I think she has better books – although certainly one of Margaret Campbell Barnes’ lesser books is still better written than much historical fiction.