The Boleyn Reckoning (Anne Boleyn Trilogy) by Laura Andersen

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The Boleyn Reckoning (Anne Boleyn Trilogy) by Laura Andersen

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The final instalment of the Tudor alternative history trilogy rounds off the series with an emotional roller coaster ride. The royal love quadrangle Henry IX doesn't realise he's in hangs in the balance along with the fate of Dominic and Minuette.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2015
Publisher: Ebury Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0091956509

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Henry IX is still in love with his childhood sweetheart Minuette and is determined to marry her, despite being betrothed to Princess Elisabeth of France for political reasons. What he still doesn't realise is that Minuette is married to the third member of their childhood trio, his trusted advisor Dominic, Duke of Exeter. Meanwhile there are some who feel that Henry's sister Princess Elizabeth would make a better ruler than he. Then there's his half-sister, Lady Mary, who is starting to realise what she's given up for Henry's future. The beginning of the end has started… but whose end/ends will it be?

American author and anglo-historyphile, Laura Andersen brings us the final chapters in a series that has improved as it's moved on. (A good time to mention that this is a series best read in order.)

The British hist-fict purists may wince slightly at the use of the odd Americanism but we've all accepted a certain level of modern dictionary use in any historical work. The proof being that if it was written in original language, only those with degrees in 16th century English would understand it. In fact the American tint has been useful in the addition of maiden names to the married women's surnames; a helpful reminder as to their original family loyalties.

Perhaps calling it the Anne Boleyn trilogy is a bit of a misnomer since we got rid of her ages ago but that's my only complaint this time out. To me the test of a hist-fict (or alt hist fict in this case) is whether it feels authentic and whether I'm swept along by the story. In the case of The Boleyn Reckoning that's a double yes.

There are so many unknowns as we hurtle through the beautifully layered politics and action. Will Laura turn the history back to its real world roots with the crown going to Elizabeth or will the alternative plotting keep coming? How will Dominic and Minuette come out of this? Will Dominic and Minuette come out of this? We're kept guessing with some wonderfully deft twists, turns and downright shocks almost to the very end.

There's also an interesting quandary for Lady Mary. When Henry IX was born she, at Henry VIII's behest, signed away her rights to the crown and, indeed, marriage, by practically declaring herself a bastard. Now she's 40 and desperate for a husband and the crown but her duty to faith recognises that as a man, Henry IX now rules according to divine right. What can she do? This may be alternative but Laura knows enough of history to be able to extrapolate the possibilities.

There are some points in the story during which we're plumping for Dominic and Minuette to such a degree that eventually all the politicking, trials and plotting elsewhere becomes informative wallpaper. This isn't due to the way that the politicking etc is presented to us – no complaints there – but because we care about our heroes as our esteem for the spoilt, capricious Henry drops. Having said that, he is being betrayed behind his back so perhaps we should feel more sympathetic towards the poor bloke.

Although Books 1 and 2 have been deemed patchy by some reviewers, I didn't feel this about Book 3. It delivers us breathless and tear-stained to the final page and the realisation that it is possible to become accustomed to Tudors mentioning periods in a grammatical sense. In fact, with stories as good as this, I eagerly look forward to the next time.

(A big thank you to Ebury Press for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you've already read Books one and two and still hanker for Tudors with an enticing degree of off piste (and who wouldn't?!) we heartily recommend The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman.

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