Thankfully, the Cambridge academic Rosemary Horrox is a pragmatic and sensible guide to Richard’s reign. Horrox knows the story inside out — her 1989 textbook examining service to the crown under Richard is still a staple of undergraduate reading lists. Her pithy new biography is part of the Penguin Monarchs series, which introduces our kings and queens in little volumes of about 100 pages. Like the best books in the collection, her account balances a summary of the salient facts with a clear and concise thesis. Her contention is laid out in the book’s subtitle, A Failed King?