Welcome to Wednesday! I have a thinking book for you all today. For those of you who love historical reads and are fascinated by the Tudor dynasty, I have for you The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen. Now this has everything you love in a Tudor era book, treachery, betrayal, gossip, affairs, scheming and executions. There is one twist, though, this is a fictionalized version of history as it follows Henry IX. The stillborn son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, except in this book he survives and at eighteen he rules England. This is an entertaining and intriguing alternate version of history with plenty of mystery and betrayal. I enjoyed delving into this fictional reality and seeing how things might have unfolded. For those of you who are purists, rest assured that even though this is a fictionalized account, it is well researched and it tries to stay true to history as much as possible. I found this to be a fascinating and intriguing read. I am excited and pleased today to welcome author Laura Andersen to share with you her list of favorite fictional men in historical fiction.
Before we get to the men, let me introduce you all to Laura:
Laura Andersen is the author of The Boleyn King, The Boleyn Deceit; and The Boleyn Reckoning, will be published in 2014. She is married with four children and possesses a constant sense of having forgotten something important. She has a BA in English (with an emphasis in British history), which she puts to use by reading everything she can lay her hands on. She is currently hard at work on a sequel trilogy featuring Elizabeth I, The Sovereign Trilogy. Find Laura on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.
Here is Laura with men she is thankful for:
Favorite Men of Historical Fiction
As gratitude is on my mind this month of November, what better subject than devout gratefulness for the men I love from historical fiction? Some of these men actually lived, some exist only on the page, but all are characters in whom the breath of imagination has created complicated, heroic, difficult, and swoon-worthy men.
Llewellyn and David ap Gruffydd (The Brothers of Gwynnedd Quartet by Edith Pargeter)
One of these medieval Welsh brother is far-sighted, wise, controlled, a great leader of men, a devoted lover and a hero in the making. One brother is young, impulsive, hotheaded, charming, and resentful of his perfect sibling. (Hmmm, this is sounding somewhat Dominic/Will in description—that’s probably not coincidence.)
Edith Pargeter (who also wrote the Brother Cadfael mysteries under the name Ellis Peters) wrote four brilliant books about the grandson of Llewellyn the Great, named Llewellyn as well and known as the last true prince of Wales. Llewellyn the Last is at his most human and vulnerable while dealing with his youngest brother, David, who switched allegiances between Wales and England for much of his life. But when the end came, and it counted, David stood by his brother. I love them both, and when I read these novels my reaction is: “If this isn’t how it really happened, then it’s how it should have happened.
Richard III (Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey)
Is it strange to be half in love with a historical character (or any character, really) who never himself appears on the pages of a novel? Strange or not, that is how I became an ardent Ricardian. In Josephine Tey’s novel, her detective Alan Grant is laid up in hospital for several weeks and, in his boredom, begins solving the mystery of the melancholy portrait of the much-maligned king.
In a process half police-procedural, half-intuitive, Tey delivers a sympathetic portrait of a king the Tudors were determined to destroy. And in the process, created a character that makes my heart beat faster for a fallen, tragic hero.
Ramses Emerson (Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters)
Walter Peabody Emerson first appears as an infant in Peters’ turn of the last century Egyptology mysteries . . . but he doesn’t stay that way forever. And by the time Ramses is in his late teens—tall, dark, handsome, taciturn, brilliant, devoutly loyal to the woman he’s loved since they were children—I was ready to be swept away. Who wouldn’t love a man who scales a cliff-side building to save his secret sweetheart . . . and then saves another woman instead simply because she’s in the more vulnerable position? Ramses Emerson is where it’s at in historical mysteries.
Francis Crawford of Lymond (The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett)
I’d be hard pressed to name a greater fictional Tudor hero—or is he an anti-hero? Francis Crawford, commonly known as Lymond, is the epitome of an enigma. He returns to Scotland in the first of the six-volume Lymond Chronicles, believed to be a traitor in league with the English, despised by family and friends equally, and with an agenda that no one outside of himself can grasp. Even the reader can’t grasp it for quite some time, which can be equal parts frustrating and intriguing. But by the end of the last hundred pages of The Game of Kings, I was well on my way to falling for this stubborn, difficult man. It’s worth the investment to follow Lymond through all six novels to see where Dunnett takes him—and us—and Scotland through the turbulent politics of the 1550s and the even more turbulent recesses of Lymond’s heart.
I could go on. My husband would prefer I don’t. But perhaps, if you find Dominic Courtenay or William Tudor appealing in my books, you’d enjoy discovering (or re-discovering) some of the men I’ve mentioned above. Odds are there might be one or two traits you’ll recognize. And you’ll absolutely find compelling stories written by authors I would consider selling my soul to match.
What’s not to be grateful for?
Thanks, Laura! Sounds like you do have plenty to be thankful for! Now for all you lovely readers who I am so thankful for, I have a chance to win a copy of The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen, thanks to the good folks at Random House. This giveaway is open to U.S./Canada residents. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading Contest Policies. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Boleyn Deceit(The Boleyn Trilogy #2) by Laura Andersen
Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Allison Weir! After presenting readers with an irresistible premise in The Boleyn King (what if Anne gave birth to a healthy royal boy who would grow up to rule England?) Laura Andersen returns in this deepening saga, into the dangerous world of the Tudor court, where secrets can bring down an empire, and even the strongest of monarchs may not be able to prevent history from repeating...
Henry IX, known as William, is the son of Anne Boleyn and now the leader of England, his regency period finally at an end. His newfound power, however, comes with the looming specter of war with the other major powers of Europe, with strategic alliances that must be forged on both the battlefield and in the bedroom, and with a court, severed by religion, rife with plots to take over the throne. Will 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 Anne Boleyn. But as the pressure rises alongside the threat to his life, even they William must begin to question-and to fear....
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Ballantine Books
Four stars: An entertaining, well researched book that presents and alternate course in history.
Henry IX, William, the son of the infamous Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, is the royal heir to the throne of England. At eighteen, he is one of the most powerful men in Europe. Yet he is surrounded by treachery and deceit as those around him try and usurp his power. The country is still squabbling over religious differences, thanks to his father and his lustful desires. The loyal Catholics still believe that Henry's half sister Mary should be crowned Queen, and they will stop at nothing to see that she reaches the throne. Meanwhile, William is trying to maintain a shaky peace with the French by entering in an engagement with the nine year old French princess. Truth be told, William has no intention of marrying the French girl, his heart belongs to another, Minuette, the orphan ward of his late mother. The problem is Minuette's is taken by someone else. William is surrounded by people who are bent on their own desires, even those he trusts the most. Will William keep his throne and marry the girl he loves?
What I Liked:
- I am fascinated by the torrid, bloody and treacherous history of the Tudor family. Henry VIII remains an interesting and despicable villain even today. I enjoyed delving into a book that takes the written history and turns everything upside down by presenting an alternate version of the events. In Ms. Andersen's vision, Henry and Anne's son is not stillborn, instead he survives to ascend to the throne. At eighteen, William rules the country with an iron fist, while getting what he wants. He is his father's son after all. In this alternate version of history, Anne was not executed, instead she died of illness. Her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford and his wife Jane survive, and in fact, George remains a closer advisor to William. The story follows a quartet of characters, William, Elizabeth, Dominic and Minuette. Three are fictional, while Elizabeth is presented as the strong, determined woman we all know from history. Even though this is a fictional account, Ms. Andersen implements her story with accurate historical characters, and she follows true events while spinning her own tale. There is still plenty of deceit, plotting and betrayals as the noblemen of William's court attempt to conspire against him and remove him from the throne. The biggest traitor is someone right under William's nose. It was entertaining to navigate through this fictional account, and I liked piecing together the evidence to find the enemy.
- While I liked all four of the main characters, Elizabeth by far was my favorite. She is intriguing and I loved seeing her flounder as she suffers through a romantic betrayal. Robert Dudley is indeed a true player in Elizabeth's life and most of the events depicted in the book involving Dudley actually happened. I loved watching the young, yet noble and intelligent Elizabeth grow into the smart and capable woman who led England so successfully. William, Henry IX, has many of they same tendencies as his father. He is young, rash and lustful and willing to throw away the peace of his country for a woman. He tries to be loyal to his friends, but in the end, his own selfish desires overrule his good intentions. I liked getting to know the fictional son of Anne and Henry VIII. Minuette is a sweet, lovely young lady who is caught between two powerful men. she is smart and unwilling to let someone get away with murder. I appreciated her fortitude and liked watching her unravel the mystery. Dominic, aside from Elizabeth, was my favorite character. He is William's best friend and confidant. He holds Minuette's heart, but is unable to be honest with William about his romantic interest. Despite the fact that Dominic is in love with Minuette, he remains loyal and true to William. He is noble, kind and the type of man who should be the King.
- I am not well read on the Tudor dynasty, in fact, I found myself googling certain people and events in history as I read so I could compare. What I did find was that despite the fact that Ms. Andersen is presenting a fictional account, she has taken the time to research and present a historically accurate portrayal of most of the events recounted in the story. The turmoil in the country over religion, the plotting and so forth are tweaked a bit to fit the story, but for the most part the events are true to history. The characters in the book, aside from the three main fictional characters are all actual historical people. If you are a fan of books that are all about the Tudor era, and you want something a bit different, take a chance and pick this up. Even though it is not a true account, it is well researched and detailed.
- I enjoyed putting together the clues in the book to try and uncover a murderer and a traitor. Just when I thought everything was figured out, there are a couple of surprising twists and I was startled to find out who the true perpetrator was.
And The Not So Much:
- The biggest problem I had was keeping everything straight and grasping what was going on. Probably the majority of my problems was due to the fact that I plunged in and started with the second book. It was a sink or swim read, and I did struggle in the beginning as I floundered to understand the historical changes and the characters. However, I was patient and I did manage to plant my feet on the ground about a quarter of the way through. Ms. Andersen does a good job of providing plenty of refresher details throughout so I wasn't too loss. Even though I was able to piece together the story, I would not recommend going into this without having read the first book. I still don't know how Henry VIII died in this version and I am anxious now to go back and find out. I am planning on reading the first book as soon as possible.
- The other thing that hindered my read was trying to keep all the characters straight. Thankfully, many of them are true historical people so I was able to stop and look up people and events so I had a clearer picture. What made it difficult for me was that so many of the characters' had two names, for instance, sometimes George Boleyn was referred to as George but most of the time he was Lord Rochford. I would love for the book to include a quick reference guide with all the characters, titles and all that. It would make the read so much easier. There are also many plots and story lines to keep track of and it is a bit of a challenge. I am worried that when I reach the final book, I will be suffering from book amnesia and that I will struggle to reacquaint myself with everything again.
- Elizabeth was by far my favorite character. I was a bit disappointed that of all the main characters, her role was the smallest. I wished that she had a bigger part as I find her fascinating. I am hoping she will be in the picture more next time out.
- Finally, the plot builds and builds toward the revelation of the traitor and murderer. Once everything seems to be uncovered and it is at the thrilling climax, the story suddenly diverts to a completely different story line involving the French. I was riveted during the final portion of the book, until things turned to the French. I was frustrated that after all the buildup, that the story veered away. It finally returns to the main conflict at the end when one of the accused drops a startling confession as to who is really behind the treachery. The book ends on a jaw dropping cliffhanger as the fate of the traitor and the health of William lie in the balance. I am now most eager to read the conclusion.
The Boleyn Deceit is an entertaining and exciting presentation of an alternate version of England's history. I liked exploring the possibility of a male Tudor heir on the throne and watching as William tries to pick up the pieces from the fall out of his father's folly. Despite the fact that this isn't an actual historical account, it is well researched and it does try and maintain as much historical accuracy as possible. If you are a fan of historical fiction and if you like all the treachery, deceit and terror during the Tudor era, treat yourself and check this out.
"We all carry with us our pasts. Who we were then informs who we are now."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Here is the complete trilogy: