Monday, 13 May 2013

Early Review: The Boleyn King

The Boleyn King
Laura Andersen
Publisher: Ballantine Books - To Be Published 14th May 2013
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.
Most of the historical books I have read have centred around the Tudor Court with the focus either on Henry VIII and his many wives or his children especially his daughters Mary and Elizabeth. This novel takes that ear and supposes that Anne Boleyn actually succeeded in providing Henry with a son and heir – how would history be different and more intriguingly how would it be the same…?
The story focuses around four young nobles at court – William, the young king just coming into his majority and determined to flex his , his sister Elizabeth, a shrewd political mind with feelings for a young married Robert Dudley, Minuette, lady in waiting to Elizabeth and long-time friend to the royal siblings and Dominic, William’s best friend and counsellor. William is definitely his father’s son with his short temper and desires but with enough of the Boleyn shrewdness mixed in. As the story progressed I wasn’t sure I liked him as a person, but I understood how he reacted. Considering he is an entirely fictional character, he feels like a Tudor king and the whole story cleverly weaves together events and characters that actually happened with this possible world. Considering this is a fantasy historical fictional, I was hard-pressed to tell the difference between make believe and reality. It is also nice to read a historical story that I genuinely didn’t know what was going happen. The drawback with many historical novels is that you know who marries whom and who gets the throne – here, it all felt fresh and invigorating while still maintaining the feel of a historical novel!
Minuette, lady in waiting has a hard task to walk the line between clever and na├»ve but seems to manage it without seeming sly or cloyingly innocent. Elizabeth is recognisable as a princess who grew up with her mother still very much alive and her sharp eye misses nothing. I really like the way the Kings Uncle, Lord Rochford was regent and the master behind the throne during William’s childhood. He is an intriguing character that I look forward to see more in the next books in this trilogy. The only character who actually disappointed me was Anne Boleyn herself. From what I’ve read I can’t believe that she would have let her brother handle all state affairs without becoming involved herself. Still it was interesting to see the woman who refused to be Henry’s mistress and held out for a crown for 6 years if she had lived longer.
There is a lot of politics in this novel as well romance with a sprinkling of war and intrigue.  I found myself very involved in the story, although I was surprised occasionally at the leaps forward in time. The writing just grabbed me and pulled me into a past that never-was but could have been. Excitement and what could-have-been from characters that felt real and were appealing. The novel is original and sharp and I really can’t wait to read the next books in this trilogy!
Recommended for fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory. 8.5 out of 10


  1. It does sound really interesting, I love what ifs

  2. Aw... I usually like the Anne Boleyn character. Sad that she was disappointing in this one. I too wouldn't have bought her letting her brother handle all of that without some involvement. Still, sounds like a good historical!