|The Boleyn Deceit (Anne Boleyn Trilogy Book 2) by Laura Andersen|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The alternative history trilogy featuring Tudor King Henry IX (yes, IX) and his entourage surges back with Book 2. Building and improving on the debut as intrigue, danger and political manipulation skewered my eyes to the page.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: January 2015|
|Publisher: Ebury Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Even after her death, George Boleyn continues to fashion his sister Anne's son into a king in George's image. However, now 18, matters of state aren’t the only concerns of Henry IX. He has to decide between the French Princess Elizabeth and commoner, childhood friend Minuette although Minuette is secretly betrothed to Henry's advisor Dominic. Minuette also has another quest: to find out who killed her friend Alyce but sleuthing is becoming more dangerous. Meanwhile Henry's Catholic sister Mary and very intelligent sister Elizabeth are not going to be happy remaining merely decorative for long.
Remember my review of the first in this trilogy, The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen? I liked the novel and was polite enough about it but I was a little snooty about the book blurb comparing Laura to Philippa Gregory. It seems now that what the blurb author had done (and I hadn't) was to read further on in the series. I say that because this, Book 2, is a game changer. No murmurings from me about hist-fict-light this time. Ms Andersen proves an intricate a plotter as Dr Gregory or Elizabeth Fremantle and I'm more than happy with the result.
Laura mixes history with the extrapolations from the changes she's wrought upon the Tudor lineage to provide some fascinating situations and dilemmas. The main focus is a ménage a quartre with only two of the ménage realising there are quartre in it. If Henry follows his heart by not marrying Princess Elizabeth of France, England suffers. Indeed, if Henry follows his heart Minuette and Dominic also suffer but then if Henry ever realises that Dominic is involved he'll lose his best mate while Dominic could lose his head. How long can Dom and Minuette keep their secret? Wait and see…
Meanwhile the Catholics are still causing trouble and Henry's sister Mary is of course Catholic. Then there's his other sister, the not-French Princess Elizabeth. Yes, she's Protestant but she wants to be more than a pawn dispensed with in marriage and she certainly has the wherewithal for greater things. See what I mean about dilemmas?
Alongside the intrigue of power broking and breaking there's still the murder of Alyce playing on Minuette's mind. We realise it was committed by one of the most charmingly portrayed historical baddies but Minuette doesn't. In fact she may not even live to find out.
The story is peppered with some lovely real life factoids. For instance did you realise that the French King's mistress Diane de Poitiers signed documents on his behalf? Here's hoping he knew!
Talking of real life, Laura also introduces us to truly historical Frances Walsingham and Dr John Dee, positioning both oh so tantalisingly for Book 3; one of the reasons that the series should be read in order. (It does work as a stand-alone but there are too many spoilers in it for it to be read before The Boleyn King.)
Are there any complaints about The Boleyn Deceit? Not really from me… ok, there's an instance of Tudor precognition as one of the characters utters an Americanism but considering the page-turning nature of the twists and turns, an unguarded phrase won't spoil anything.
The point is that from not totally great beginnings, Laura now demonstrates the purpose of alt-hist: to entertain us with historical backgrounds and people while avoiding history becoming its own spoiler. In this Laura is proving to be excellent, building on her tale of the controlled seeking to control and heart vying with head. Book 3, The Boleyn Reckoning, comes out in July 2015 and on the evidence of the first two books can go either way. I'm hoping it continues to cement Laura's burgeoning reputation but, as my mother used to say, let's wait and see.
(Thank you, Ebury, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: First suggestion would indeed be The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen|The Boleyn King. However if you've read that, then why not try the award winning (and BBC TV series inspiring) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel chronicling the real life drama of Henry IX's parents.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boleyn Deceit (Anne Boleyn Trilogy Book 2) by Laura Andersen at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boleyn Deceit (Anne Boleyn Trilogy Book 2) by Laura Andersen at Amazon.com.
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