The novel depicts Margaret Beaufort's role in the War of the Roses from childhood to adulthood. The Red Queen is the second installment in the The Cousins War series. It centres on the life and ambitions of Margaret Beaufort, known as the mother of King Henry VII and Countess of Richmond and Derby, from the young age of 10 to 42. She believes her House of Lancaster is the rightful ruler of England.
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At 12, Margaret has an attachment to Joan of Arc because the latter's connection to God. Margaret wants to serve God as a nun but since King Henry VI became senile, the chance of conceiving an heir is low, making her a vital pawn in the War of the Roses.
Later, a veteran of the Hundred Years War stops by and narrates his experience with Joan of Arc on the battlefield. After, Margaret begins to believe God has chosen her to lead the House of Lancaster to victory.
She is betrothed to Edmund Tudor, who with his brother, Jasper, ignores her until she becomes pregnant. It's a difficult pregnancy, during which her husband is held hostage then killed by William Herbert from the House of York. Jasper Tudor becomes attached to the child in the womb and promises protection to the child if it's a boy. At this point, Margaret realizes women seem to have one purpose – childbirth.
When Margaret goes into labour, she almost dies and learns her mother wished the child to live, if a choice had to be made. The dim hope Margaret had that her mother loved her, vanished, then she dedicates her life to her son, Henry VII. Her relationship with God becomes stronger.
Soon, Margaret is betrothed to Henry Stafford and she leaves her child with Jasper Tudor, her new love. Her life with Stafford is good as he treats her well but they constantly argue about his decision to not participate in war. She sees him as a coward like her father was. She keeps in touch with Jasper and finally, time comes for him and Henry VII to leave England due to raising threats throughout the kingdom.
Constantly, her life is contrasted with Queen Elizabeth, who is Margaret's rival. They are nearly opposites, both in appearance and situation.
Some years later, Stafford is injured during a battle and passes on. By this time, her mother has passed so Margaret makes a proposal to Thomas Stanley, She chooses him since he is ambitious as her and will help the most with placing her son on the throne. After their marriage, they attempt to make things easier for her son's coming rebellion and are progressive.
Eventually, they are exposed, she fails and is placed on house arrest in Stanley's cottage, where her future daughter-in-law is housed later. Near the end, an eclipse occurs and the last battle occurs. Henry VII and his foreign army fight strategically against the York and win. He takes the throne and Margaret finally achieves her goal.
Best part of story, including ending:
Margaret is well written and negative emotions she feels in her lonely situation is realistic. She is a foil to the first novel's protagonist, Queen Elizabeth.
Best scene in story:
When Margaret was in labour, everyone was in doubt of her survival. She was very young, small and needed emotional support, which she never received. She is then told that her mother wishes the child to live, even if it means Margaret's death. This was a turning point for Margaret as she relied on God's love much more and realizes that she walks a lonely road.
Opinion about the main character:
Margaret is an easily disliked character but her situation is reflected of many abused women today. Everything she does and feels is due to the people around her and the lack of love she feels. Despite this, her strength despite her lonely path is admirable.