The Boleyn King – Laura Andersen

Published July 28, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

The Boleyn King is the first novel in an enthralling new trilogy. Re-imagining 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.

What did I think?:

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this novel from NetGalley and Ballantine Books so many thanks to them. I approached this novel with slight trepidation as I am a big fan of the Tudor period, Phillippa Gregory for fiction, Alison Weir for non-fiction, and I was curious to see what this author would do with such a well-loved stage of our history. Luckily enough, I was pleasantly surprised! This is an alternative history, which gives us the big “what if” question, in this case what if Anne Boleyn had given Henry a son and heir? How would history proceed? What would happen to England?

We first meet the young king at seventeen years old, almost ready to take the reins of the kingdom from the Lord Protector, Lord Rochford. Tudor fans will recognise him as Anne Boleyn’s ambitious brother, accused of incest with his sister which led to his execution by Henry VIII in “real” history. In this re-telling, he enjoys his role commanding the kingdom, slipping nuggets of wisdom into the young king’s ears. William feels quite overwhelmed by his duties, but is able to put his trust in his older sister Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) and two childhood friends, Dominic and Minuette. Trouble looms as they grow older, when the two boys both fall in love with Minuette, and the King finds himself torn between duty, friendship and passion.

As an alternative history, I think its a terrific re-telling of what may have been, and I enjoyed how the author made it feel believable in that she kept elements of the primary story – for example, Elizabeth’s alleged romance with Robert Dudley. I’m not a big fan of chick-lit or romance novels, but I appreciated the romantic element in this story, as again, I felt the author did a good job of making it plausible. And hooray, there were still many plots afoot to claim the throne that kept the story fast-paced and exciting, and able to claim the title of “credible historical fiction.” I am now eagerly anticipating the next novel in the series, and will definitely look out for other books by this author.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


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