The Boleyn King (Anne Boleyn Trilogy 1) by Laura Andersen
|The Boleyn King (Anne Boleyn Trilogy 1) by Laura Andersen|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: What if Anne Boleyn had given birth to a son who became king? An interesting alt-hist idea that loses a little on the page and isn't like Philippa Gregory (issue with the book blurb!), but still worth a look.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: October 2014|
|Publisher: Ebury Press|
|External links: Author's website|
In this alternative history, Anne Boleyn's son William has become the king known as Henry IX. As he nears the age of majority (18), he also approaches the age at which he will rule solo rather than through his regent and uncle, George Boleyn. However, he's inherited a troubled kingdom. Not only are England's enemies knocking at the door, there are enemies within Will's own household. It begins with the sudden death of one of the court's young ladies in waiting. Where will it end?
This is the first in American author Laura Andersen's Boleyn trilogy which first came out on Kindle and is now being published one part at a time in paperback. (Part 2, The Boleyn Deceit is due out in July 2015.) Your opinion of The Boleyn King will depend on how you like your historical fiction served and whether it's judged this as historical fiction (albeit alternative) or a novel. Historical fiction first…
Whoever selected Laura's book blurb did her no favours I'm afraid. Including a quote that compares this with the best of Philippa Gregory – not any old historical fiction from hist fict author and academic, Dr Gregory, but the best of – may raise expectations a tad. Philippa Gregory splices story with historical texture, evoking place and time as much as the tale itself. For Laura, the tale is the thing rather than Tudor atmosphere; different emphasis means different style.
As murder strikes the court and William, his young envoy Dominic Courtenay, Anne Boleyn's ward Minuette and Princess Elizabeth form almost a teenage Tudor version of an Enid Blyton investigatory collective, we realise that Laura does indeed have a style of her own. The intrigue is still there though as Laura meshes reality history with the fictionalised.
Princess Mary is still causing problems to the crown regarding her Catholic faith. Anne is still as despised by the populous as she would have been if beheaded by Henry. In fact there are rumours that William isn't his father's child, although anyone who doubts that should see the way he treats his women. Princess Elizabeth still fancies Robert Dudley and we have some wonderful baddies in the form of the French and manipulative Uncle George. However this is hist-fict-light. (That's counting Philippa, Elizabeth Fremantle etc as heavy, an odd categorising and comparison.) Anyway, to the story…
This is a good murder mystery with a dose of romance served on the side. Some of the conversations seem to be marking time a little but not so many to make a difference. Minuette is feisty and, eventually, realises what she wants in life, just at the moment that life throws in a spanner creating a great romantic cliff hanger for the next book. Dominic's power comes at the price of becoming a puppet, or seeming to become a puppet as he juggles what he should do with what he's expected to do.
The whodunit element keeps us guessing right to the reveal. Once you know who it is, if you’re a Tudor/Plantagenet nut like I am, you'll smile as it’s a very clever twist. But I can say no more in case I give it away to said fellow nuts. In fact there are a few things I'm itching to point out but I have a feeling that they will create revelations later in the series so I'm loathe to mention them. Perhaps thinking I can spot twists a book or more before they're brought to us is a bad thing, but the clever author can twist our expectations and use them against us so they may not be what I think.
I'm not going to be as picky as the critic who pointed out that courtly manners had been abandoned; story matters more than forms of address and who touches who how in a novel like this. So if you'd to sink into a tale where the people matter more than the when and the plot matters more than the wall hangings, this is definitely worth a read.
(Thank you, Ebury, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you enjoy a touch of the Tudor what-if-coulda-woulda's, we also recommend [[The Virgin Queen's Daughter by Ella March Chase]. If you prefer a more historical hist-fict, anything by Philippa Gregory could satisfy your yearning and anything by Elizabeth Fremantle will knock your socks off!
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boleyn King (Anne Boleyn Trilogy 1) by Laura Andersen at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Boleyn King (Anne Boleyn Trilogy 1) by Laura Andersen at Amazon.com.
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