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  • The Red Prince

  • The Life of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster
  • By: Helen Carr
  • Narrated by: Helen Carr
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (116 ratings)

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Summary

Medieval history from a rising star in the field, this is a biography of one of the most important figures of the age, John of Gaunt.

John Gaunt was the son of Edward III, brother to the Black Prince, father to Henry IV, and the sire of all those Tudors. He has had pretty bad press: supposed usurper of Richard II’s crown and the focus of hatred in the Peasants’ Revolt, as they torched his home, the Savoy Palace.

Helen Carr paints a complex portrait of a man who held the levers of power on the English and European stage, passionately upheld chivalric values, pressed for the Bible to be translated into English, patronized the arts - and, if you follow Shakespeare, gave the most beautiful oration on England: “this sceptred isle...this blessed plot.”

The Red Prince is an engrossing drama of political machinations, violence, romance, plague, revolt, and tragedy played out at the cusp of a new era.

©2021 Helen Carr (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

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    4 out of 5 stars

The sniffing narrator

Whilst there is a wealth of in formation in here I've stopped listening midway in chapter 2. The narration is the worst I've ever heard, sucking air into her lungs mid sentence, and the constant sniffing, somebody get her an handkerchief so she can blow her nose. History totally ruined by rotten narration.

6 people found this helpful

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Brilliant book!

Loved every minute. Will listen to it again and again. Highly recommended. Very informative.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

Absolutely loved listening to this book, we have to buy the hard copy now

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent

This is an excellent and informative history of John of Gaunt. The writer’s easy style encourages you in and it is clearly well researched.

1 person found this helpful

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outstanding

An amazing, a new perspective of English history, superbly researched and enthralling throughout. thoroughly enjoyed

1 person found this helpful

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Great!

Loved the content and the narration both by the author. Not sure what some other people are hearing but we al have opinions and mine is that this is an excellent book and if you love history, it a must read/listen.

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A Lancastrian nicer than a Lannister

It is always really nice to have the author voice their creation and Helen has a lovely audio presence easy on the ear and British in accent ( because this is British history albeit probably spoken with a French accent at Court). She brings the society of the day to life with detail that is well received by the listener. This sort of thing connects today with 600 years ago and demonstrates that we are just the same as our forefathers and mother's. Perhaps more educated perhaps not.

While I was aware of "plot spoilers", the extra detail, when it came, was with the reaction " I did not know that" which made the journey through the life of a fascinating character all the more enjoyable. Thanks Helen.

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Father of English Kings

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster is a titan of English history, an important central figure alongside his father Edward III and his son Henry IV. Gaunt was the brother of Edward, The Black Prince and uncle of the tyrannical Richard II. A loyal man to family throughout his lifetime, a doting son, loving brother and adoring father. In his early years Gaunt played a role in the Hundred Years War fighting in France and Spain and in the Duchy of Aquitaine, then being managed by his older brother Edward.

He was also at times hated by the public, which came to a head in the peasants revolt and the burning of his magnificent Savoy Palace in London. This also left a bitter taste as Richard II left a 14 year old future Henry IV in great danger in the Tower of London, narrowly avoiding capture and certain death by the rebels. With immense wealth and ambition Gaunt also attempted to become King of Castile through his second wife Constance of Castile. This ultimately failed, leaving him to return to England as Richard II was becoming a despot more and more paranoid of those around him. This forced John to constantly show his loyalty to the crown, even abandoning his brother Thomas of Woodstock in order to safeguard his children. This would eventually come to a head when Richard disinherited Henry after John’s death in 1399, causing Richard to be disposed and the beginnings of the War of the Roses. Eventually this would lead to the downfall of the Plantagenet line and the rise of the Beaufort/Tudor line through John’s son John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset.

This is a story of war and peace, tyranny and kindness, love and hate and Helen Carr does a good job of presenting the facts in a clear and coherent way. She is a good writer, who gets her point across easily (the writing is like Hemingway, no meat on the bones, just to the point). Although the book is short I came away satisfied with the content, I felt I know what I need to about John and having read about his other family members, his father, nephew, wife, brothers and son, this book slots nicely into my understanding of the period. A great debut book by Carr and I have no reason to complain. The story of English history over the past 550 years begins with Gaunt, it all leads back to Gaunt and so it is great Carr also begins her career with him too.

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Illuminating!

I'd heard of John of Gaunt but I knew practically nothing about him beyond a brief mention in passing at school. This is a book about a life rich in incident and is full of detail of the political and diplomatic machinations of the time, both here and abroad and I loved it.
I found it so engrossing I did a binge listen over a day & a half. It was well-written & well read by the author. I hope she publishes many more.

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interesting, informative and well narrated book

I don't usually write reviews, but this book was excellent. Helen Carr has clearly done a significant amount of research, which she has presented in an engaging and entertaining biography. The narration (also by Helen Carr) is also first class. The subject matter is brought to life in an impressive manner. I hope to read/listen to more of Helen Carr's works as and when they are published. In short, highly recommended!

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  • Virginia Robertshaw
  • 10-06-21

Excellent historical reference

This is an historical reference about John of Gaunt and is meticulous. I have never read much about the subject but for anyone interested in English history I would consider this a good read. John of Gaunt is the figurative father for the War of the roses and the Tudor house. Highly recommend this book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Matt
  • 23-07-21

Shallow

A short telling of the times in which Gaunt lived. The author seems to merely use Gaunt as a back drop to the Era. It is a shame because Gaunt has a good amount of authorative information the author could gave told a more complete story of a very interesting man.

Worth a listen as a primer, or general interest.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Nočnica Fee
  • 30-05-21

lovely work well performed

I confess to knowing very little about the era or even the geography of Western Europe but I found the tale engaging and the narrative clear.

Carr is clear on when the sources give facts and when we must make assumptions (for example the exact connection between our protagonist and Chaucer)

I don't always enjoy books read by the author but Carr sounds great here. Really professional and clear.

6 people found this helpful

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  • The Louligan
  • 28-08-21

A REALLY GREAT READ!

First, I normally HATE authors who narrate their own works unless it’s a very interesting and honest autobiography. (And even then you’d better be as good as Trevor Noah!) I’m especially hard on narrators who think they can pull off masterful performances comparable to pro narrators Simon Vance, Nadia May, Dion Graham, Wanda McCaddon, John Lee, or Simon Prebble. But Helen Carr not only delivers an in-depth historical account about Plantagenet prince John Gaunt, she narrates her well-researched book to perfection. I’m not going into a long discourse here. But if you like well read books about the history of Britain, you can’t go wrong here. ENJOY! 👍🏽

4 people found this helpful

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  • Judy
  • 27-08-21

Why I didn’t listen to this book.

I did not listen to this novel. The reader had to take breath so often that it was distracting. I realize the reading is not an easy task.
Thank you.

4 people found this helpful

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  • J.P.
  • 11-04-22

However, however, and more however.

Liked the subject and the reading HOWEVER the overuse and outright misuse of the word HOWEVER absolutely dozens of times was a real disappointment. History students could make this book a drinking game and that may make hearing the word HOWEVER more palatable, but I doubt it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • will33
  • 23-10-21

Like listening to a textbook

I listen to history all the time so that wasn’t the problem. This was just painfully boring written without humor or insight or anything to bring it alive. I couldn’t bear it and stopped after one long tedious hour of listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • peter brumlik
  • 09-08-21

Chronological historical litany

Unimaginative performance by the author whose historical perspective yielded little in the way of anything other than names, dates and places.

1 person found this helpful

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  • B. McGee
  • 18-07-21

Author Loves Her Subject

Well read. Beautiful voice. Historically significant. My only dilemma is the author's giving John of Gaunt the benefit of a doubt in most questionable situations, which is not the way most historians handle John of Gaunt. Definitely recommended reading.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Al
  • 14-07-21

Incitefu and Entertainingl

I've always enjoyed the History of John of Gaunt!
His family and descendants make for very Entertaining and Inciteful reading to a Yank. That happens to be an Anglo/Scotophile!
The Narration is Delightful and makes the History flow!

1 person found this helpful