Have you ever wanted to watch a spin-off of Game of Thrones that focused more on the strong, intelligent women in King’s Landing without all the gratuitous sex and violence?
Enter BBC One’s The White Queen.
The White Queen is based on British historical fiction author Philippa Gregory’s series “The Cousins’ War”—a series that primarily follows the women of the Houses of York & Lancaster during the War of the Roses period.
The White Queen‘s eponymous character is Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson). Elizabeth is a common woman from a family of devout Lancastrian supporters — until her husband dies on the battlefield. Her children’s future is put into jeopardy unless she wins the favor of Edward IV (Max Irons), the ‘usurping’ King of House York, so that he might grant her the rights to keep her property for her children.
Elizabeth is guided throughout the pilot by the wisdom of her politically-savvy,witchcraft-using mother, Jacquetta (Janet McTeer), who insists that Elizabeth can have anything she wishes because she is of “her line” — she need only accept the consequences. Jacquetta believes (correctly too, it seems) that “her line” has access to ‘the sight’: an ability to sense danger in the future for people surrounding them, depending on choices that they make (or something like that, it’s kind of hard to say this early).
There are other characters who seem like they will be important later on in the series, but they were not explored in the pilot. Chiefly among the characters that I am sure will be more prominent later on is “the Red Queen”, Lady Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale). Lady Beaufort is the Queen on the side of House Lancaster and, even though House York is currently winning the war, it is said she will “do anything to have her son sit on the throne”. There also seems to be some bad blood between Elizabeth’s mother Jacquetta and Lady Beaufort–I look forward to the drama ready to unfold.
While Philippa Gregory claims to write historically accurate fiction, she has been criticized about inaccuracies in her writings about the Tudors (especially when it comes to including rumors in her work) and this does not seem to be any different in The White Queen. While the show seems to follow the general history, there are some liberties taken with specifics of characters to spice the book (and subsequently, the show) up. Elizabeth and Jacquetta were accused of practicing witchcraft on more than one occasion and in the series, they do so successfully. I’m alright with this, however, and I must have more of this series.
The pilot episode of The White Queen drew me in fairly quickly with its promises of political intrigue, beautiful locations and an entertaining look at history and it has (so far) held up to that promise. I look forward to seeing more of it and hope that you all will give it a chance when it is more readily available for viewing.
- Rating: “I must have more.”
- Comment: Had Downton Abbey not already opened the door to my love for historical fiction, I might not have been drawn into this series so quickly–however, it did and I was. I cannot wait to see more of The White Queen.
- You might like The White Queen if you like: historical fiction, political intrigue, female leads, The Tudors, Downton Abbey, Philippa Gregory’s “The Cousins’ War” series, the politics of Game of Thrones without the heaping handfuls of sex & violence (though, there is still some)
The White Queen is currently in its first season and airs Sundays in the UK on BBC One. You can catch the US premiere of The White Queen on Starz on August 10th, 2013.