VIII by HM Castor

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VIII by HM Castor

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Not just for teens, this compelling story of Henry VIII's life is fascinating. Castor captures her characters, both famous and infamous, really well. H M Castor popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Templar
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1848775008

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Hal is a young boy who believes he is destined for greatness. Despite his father's disdain for him, and preference for his older brother Arthur, Hal believe that he is the subject of a prophecy. He thinks that his 'glory will live down the ages'. Is he right?

I'll leave it up to the reader to decide - Hal is Henry VIII, and while his name has certainly survived the four and a half centuries since his death, 'glory' might not be the word that springs to mind when you think of him. Here, though, HM Castor has created a compelling portrait of one of history's most infamous characters, both as a charismatic young teenager and as an ageing, tyrannical king. Henry is an outstanding narrator but the rest of the cast are also really well-drawn, with two of my favourites being Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. Castor studied history at Cambridge so it's no surprise that she also captures the period with real authenticity.

It's cleverly paced, with lots of jumps forward in time to important scenes. I've seen a few reviews suggesting it moves too quickly towards the end, but I think it's judged very well - when you consider that he was married to Catherine of Aragorn for well over twice as long as the other five wives put together, it's no surprise that the pace of the novel picks up considerably towards the end.

In some ways, I'm surprised this is being marketed as YA. While the book starts with Hal as a child, and moves on to show him during his teenage years, a large amount of it takes place later in his life. I think it has serious crossover potential and will be welcomed by adults and teens with an interest in the Tudor period, or just looking for an exciting historical novel.

Highly recommended!

Readers of Tudor fiction have some great books to choose from at the moment! For adults, in addition to the obvious Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and the sequel Bringing Up the Bodies, I'd strongly recommend the excellent Dr Dee mysteries series starting with The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman. For teens, The King's Rose by Alisa M Libby, which focuses on Henry's fifth wife Catherine Howard, and Treason by Berlie Doherty are both highly recommended as well.

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Buy VIII by HM Castor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy VIII by HM Castor at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy VIII by HM Castor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy VIII by HM Castor at

This review was kindly given to us by the ever-generous Ya Yeah Yeah

Bookinterviews.jpg HM Castor was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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