The second novel of Worth’s Rose of York trilogy, Crown of Destiny covers a critical period of the life of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. His mentor, the Duke of Warwick, is dead; the relationship of his brothers, Edward IV and George, Duke of Clarendon, has deteriorated as Richard stands by, helpless.
Elizabeth Woodville, the king’s wife, has successfully isolated her husband from his family, weaving an intricate web of intrigue to remove Edward from his brothers and the Neville family whenever possible. Happy to be freed from the contentiousness of Edward’s court, Richard removes himself and his family to his estate, where he throws himself into reforming the judiciary system on his lands. His objective is to inject parity into the courts, the judiciary system reflecting the equality of all; this effort and the days at Middleham will give Richard a sense of peace he will not know again.
To ensure the succession of her son to the throne, Bess plots George’s removal; the Duke of Clarence is accused of treason, confined to the tower. Regardless of Richard’s determined pleading, Edward remains intractable. Soon after a solitary visit to the tower by Edward, who leaves in a rage, George is dead.
Before he can recover from the shock of George’s demise, Richard learns that Edward has taken desperately ill. Before long, this vibrant king in the prime of his life is in the ground as well, naming Richard Lord Protector of his son from his deathbed in lieu of the queen. Assuming Edward’s dying wishes will be honored, Richard accepts his task but soon finds himself at the mercy of those who would usurp his power as Lord Protector.
Blinded to the real intentions of those who are his sworn enemies, Richard interprets the actions of others as he would his own. It is this particular naiveté that defines Richard as a ruler, a perception of the world in black and white with no attention to the subtleties that color human behavior. Thanks to those who are unafraid to speak the truth, Richard is apprised of the danger before any serious harm occurs. Yet it is this fatal flaw, this exceptional willingness to overlook and forgive, that causes Richard many disappointments during his reign.
Richard triumphs as Lord Protector, though nearly outwitted by Bess’s better grasp of political expedience. As he is planning the boy’s coronation, Richard is told of a document that will thrust him onto the throne as king instead of Edward’s son. Caught in a moral conundrum not of his own making, Richard makes the most difficult decision of his life, determined to save England from more years of civil war.
Richard deals decisively with those who have plotted treason, but once more his natural inclination for fairness interferes with his judgment. Pardoning all but one of the offenders, Richard believes kindness will be repaid by loyalty. He is wrong. The die is cast, and the reluctant king assumes the mantle, an uncommonly just man who only wants peace and prosperity for his country. Richard will be sorely tested during his reign, betrayed by the ambitions of those who call themselves friends.