Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Book Review: The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

The Boleyn King is the first novel in an enthralling new trilogy. Reimagining history in sumptuous detail, Laura Anderssen takes readers back to the deadly intrigue, turbulent affairs, and treacherous passions of Tudor England - and answers the compelling question What if Anne Boleyn had given Henry VIII the son he so desperately wanted?

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 really wanted to love this book as I liked the idea of it so much. What if Anne Boleyn HAD given Henry VIII a son and had not been beheaded? That is something that, as a Tudor fan, I liked to speculate on. It would have changed the whole course of history.

The book starts with 17 year old William on the throne. His name bothered me because every Tudor non fiction book I've read indicates that Henry wished to name his first son either Henry or Edward. Indeed his son to Jane Seymour was called Edward. So where the heck did the decision that he should be known as William come from??? When is William EVER short for Henry? And if you are going to call someone William, why not just christen him William? None of that makes any sense to me. Our new King is a petulant little brat who is incapable of paying attention in meetings never mind running the country, something I seriously doubt would happen with the son of Anne and Henry. If you look at Tudor history, young King Edward was more capable of that and he was younger than William here. William just sulks all the time and I don't find this character believable as King.

William's best friend is called Dominic which again is not really a recognised Tudor name as far as I know and is a copy of Charles Brandon, Henry VIII's best friend. Elizabeth is 20 and unmarried, being pursued by suitors in France and Spain. She is not the Elizabeth you expect and seems to take orders from Minuette rather than run things herself. Lord Rochford is Lord Protector.

Then we have Minuette. Could anyone be as darn perfect? Daughter of Anne's French maid, she is in Elizabeth's household, but Minuette always gets her own way in everything. She of course is the most beautiful, most charming, most loved by everyone and is able to get away with anything because she is so admired. GAG. She is so sickly sweet she makes you want to vomit and of course William and Dominic are fighting for her love. Great. The darn love triangle.

Then comes the mystery to be solved. A pregnant woman at court is dead but did she fall or was she pushed? Suddenly our four friends decide to investigate! This is where the book became like a Famous Five adventure with spiffing fun and loads of ginger beer! It was like a YA cozy mystery with the young 'uns sneaking around behind the backs of the adults to solve the crimes and I was not very impressed!

This is not really a proper Tudor novel. We get very little in the way of current world events or the type of intrigue we expect or anything much outside of a plot about four YA friends wandering around Court and doing virtually nothing of interest. Where are all the great characters? Anne Boleyn, one of the most interesting women in history, is reduced to sitting sewing in the background in the scenes she features in. This was more for teens than adult Tudor fans. Maybe it should have been called Five go to Hampton Court...I mean one of them was bound to have a dog... 
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png


  1. Well, I drop on by to your blog... as you do... when I see this amazing cover and fantastic title! WHAAAAT??! And then... let down.
    Thank you so much for your honest review. It doesn't sound like something I'd like. I totally agree on the William front. And while we're on the topic of names... I'm a huge Tudor fan too (and the period to be honest), and I haven't heard the name "Minuette" before during that period. Is it just me? Back then, as I recall, they used "proper names", if that makes sense.
    On another note... there's no WAY Anne Boleyn would be sitting passively in the corner sewing. She'd be plotting, scheming, and filing that - gossiping. She's my favourite Tudor queen and she was such a social butterfly... that's just totally out of character for her.
    And the crime solving?! Yeah, fantastic five Tudor style ey? And yes, I think the dog must have been called Bob.
    Thank you Chuckles! Fantastic review, it's very honest and I love that you've put why :)
    Amy x

    1. If I remember right, Minuette is some nickname with no relation to her real name which I can't even remember now. In my Tudor novels I want proper scandal and intrigue for adults! I want lots about what is happening in the world! I want to see lots of the Tudor characters and less about made up YA characters! Grrr. I like that, Bob the dog. Short for Henry no doubt...

  2. Whaaaa... That sounds kind of terrible.

    1. I was so disappointed! I love Tudors but this was not great!