Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

Title: The Boleyn King (The Boleyn Trilogy #1)
Laura Andersen
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Random House)
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Acquired Via:Goodreads First Reads

Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, and Showtime’s The Tudors, The Boleyn King is the first book in an enthralling trilogy that dares to imagine: What if Anne Boleyn had actually given Henry VIII a son who grew up to be king?

Just seventeen years old, Henry IX, known as William, is a king bound by the restraints of the regency yet anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics sowing the seeds of rebellion at home, William trusts only three people: his older sister Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by William’s mother, Anne Boleyn.

Against a tide of secrets, betrayal, and murder, William finds himself fighting for the very soul of his kingdom. Then, when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession looms over a new generation of Tudors. One among them will pay the price for a king’s desire, as a shocking twist of fate changes England’s fortunes forever.

My Review

I love alternate history stories and anything dealing with the Tudors, but I had a copy of The Boleyn King languishing at my house for a year and a half before ever reading it. I knew that it would probably be the perfect combination for a really great read, so I have no idea why I never got around to picking it up. However, I got into a really bad reading slump after my house flooded, and this book really brought me out of it.

The Boleyn King seamlessly weaves history with fantasy (not magical fantasy, mind you - fake history fantasy) so successfully that I almost forgot several times that Henry IX and his comrades were not real people. Okay, some of them, like Elizabeth, were real, but I know some of them have to be made up because Henry VIII killed so many of their parents. But anywho, realistic. Also realistic is that Andersen did not try to make Will and Dominic these great faithful men. We all know that guys in the sixteenth century - especially monarchs - liked to screw around a lot.

Minuette was probably my favorite character in the book, though I liked nearly all of them, even the ones I liked to dislike. She was fun to vicariously experience the Tudor court through because though she was a poor orphan, she was besties with the kids in the royal family. (Even Mary liked her.) I also liked Elizabeth a lot because she seemed like she had something hidden up her sleeve. But then again, I guess that's how she got to be queen.

There is quite a lot of plotting and intrigue in The Boleyn King, but that has always been the norm in just about any monarchy and the court surrounding it. I was surprised by a few of the twists in the book, and I didn't see the last one coming at all. There is a mystery at the center of The Boleyn King, but there wasn't so much tension that I wasn't able to enjoy the story. The tying up of loose ends of the initial mystery (murder) wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but I did appreciate the parallel between it and a real event.

I recommend The Boleyn King to any fan of historical fiction and those who like stories based on an alternate history. I can't wait until I have time to read the other two books in Andersen's trilogy.

- 4.5/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the book for reviewing purposes from the publisher through Goodreads First Reads. This has in no way affected the outcome of the review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.

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