Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Book: The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

I received a copy of The Boleyn King from Netgalley in exchange for my review.

What if Anne Boleyn hadn't miscarried her son? What if Henry VIII had never had her beheaded? Almost 18, Henry IX, better known as William, is about to become monarch in his own right, and his inner circle has been reunited after years apart. Made up of his sister, Elizabeth, his friend Dominic, and a young orphan Minuette, child of Anne Boleyn's friend from the French court, the four of them travel through the intrigues of court, from matters of treason, through to matters of the heart, little knowing where the latter could leave them...

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I was slightly nervous about reading The Boleyn King at first, part of me loves anything to do with that era (well the idea of it) and part of me was concerned over the fact that effectively the book messes with history. Because even though the series' timeline ends up with Elizabeth I on the throne when Elizabeth I should have been on the throne, everything changes with the introduction of a brand new monarch. But I actually really really enjoyed this book, and will probably end up breaking my self made rule of not reading the next one til at least next month (tis a silly rule anyway!)

Henry VIII himself didn't play much of a role in the book, other than in the memories of various characters, but there were several other characters that normally appear in Boleyn novels, including Anne and George, though I felt that George had been changed the most into less of a free young man and more of a clever and hard diplomat, which I thought was a good change plot wise, as well as Jane Rochford. Even though several of the characters in the book died in history before that I thought they worked well in the plot, and I was wondering, and was then impressed, by the way that the author did then deal with their lives and their deaths. It could easily have gone badly I think.

The characters at the forefront of the novel, Dominic, William, Minuette and Elizabeth, mainly had the freedom of artistic licence as they were mainly fictional, Elizabeth being the major acception which I will get to in a minute. I thought that William was a good combination of both of his famous parents' known traits, and I found it believable that he could have been the son of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, though some of his father's more stubborn traits did begin to come out and could start to cause problems.

Minuette and Dominic were both great characters, and I loved the chemistry and the interaction between them. This was no mad passion, but the two of them coming to realise that they care a great deal for one another, even if it had been clear that they had feelings right from the beginning as a reader. Neither of the characters were perfect, both had impulsive moments, but they worked well, particularly in contrast to the more steadfast Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was always going to be an interesting one in this book, simply because she was always going to be the same Queen that history made her, meaning that somehow she had to get to the same point despite not having the same upbringing as in history. I very much liked the way that the author made a lot of those things about her personality traits, and I didn't feel like she was out of place, either as the future Queen, or as the friend of her brother, Dom and Minuette.

The intrigue, decedance and scandal of the Tudor court were captured in a way that really drew me in, and I am definitely looking forward to reading more in this series!

The Boleyn King counts towards Winter COYER, Bookish Resolutions, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge & 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge