karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

A new key to the The War of the Roses

It might seem strange for someone who writes science fiction, but I enjoy reading historical fiction quite a lot. I have a special fondness for novels written against the backdrop of English history because it illustrates so well that personality, talent, and circumstance had as much to do with who was in power as birth. Not to say that you could be born a peasant and become king, but even if you were born a prince, your place in life was never guaranteed. The War of the Roses between Lancaster and York that ended with the Tudors taking over the throne of England (with no real claim to it) was an excellent illustration of this. I have read several novels set in this era, so when The Stolen Crown, by Susan Higginbotham was free for a day in the Kindle store, I snapped it up. It's written in alternating first person accounts by Katherine (Kate) Woodville, sister of Queen Elizabeth, Edward IV's queen, and Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. They are both kids when it starts, and Higginbotham does a good job of showing how different was the view of children in that era of very young arranged marriages.

The story is engrossing but very complex. All the major players and many of the minor ones are related to each other by birth or by marriage, and many of them have the same names (too many Henrys and Edwards!). And then I noticed this book has something not all Kindle books have: the X-Ray feature. When you press the menu key, on the lower right corner of the screen is an option labeled X-Ray, that only appears if the publisher has provided the right kind of files to Amazon. While you're reading you can go to the X-Ray screen and see for the characters and places that occur on that page a sort of DNA-mapping that shows you how often that specific character or place occurs on the page, in the chapter, and in the whole book. You can also tap their name and see a brief explanation of who they are and some snippets where they are mentioned in the text. For this kind of book, this is a fantastic feature. The author included a cast of characters but referring to it, in print or in ebook, is not nearly as easy to do as using the X-Ray feature.

This is the first time I've used X-Ray, and I have to say it's one place where the ebook is superior to the print. I wish I had had this kind of thing when I was taking history classes in college. It's also something that for some kinds of books could justify a higher priced ebook, because it requires extra work on the publisher's part.

I'm going to keep an eye out for this in other books!
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Tags: e-books, ebooks, historical fiction, kindle, kindle features, x-ray

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