My Rating: 4/5
Author: Laura Andersen
Title: The Boleyn King
Genre: Historical Fiction
Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, and Showtime’s The Tudors, The Boleyn King is the first book in an enthralling trilogy that dares to imagine: 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.
The Boleyn King is a historical fiction that explores the “what if” Anne Boleyn had a son. In this story, Anne had Elizabeth and then her son, William, survived. With a son, Anne was saved from her tragic fate and continued to live as queen with Henry VIII. Within the story William and Elizabeth and their two friends Dominic and Minuette (daughter of Marie who was one of Anne’s ladies) must solve a mystery together. Someone or some group is out to try to expose William as a Boleyn son, not a Tudor. With a mystery to solve and political and love interests that get in the way, the book will remind you of the Showtime series The Tudors – without the sex scenes.
The story is written in third person and follows the main characters. The main story tellers are Minuette and Dominic. Minuette and William were born on the same day and year. Minuette was raised with the royal family and is friends with both Elizabeth and William. She’s a spunky type of girl for her setting – not shying away from climbing on walls or doing some spying. Her mother died while she was a little girl – from childbirth fever – and she has always been a little curious about her. Being raised with the royal family puts her in an advantage at court. Now that she is older she is throwing the ideas of love and marriage together. While testing these waters out, she is also helping her friends solve a mystery that could jeopardize William’s reign. Dominic is a close confidant of the king. He is the oldest and well trained with a sword. He treats William as a friend (and with respect, of course), and William feels he is one of the only people he can trust. Dominic is a nice young man and realizes he is falling in love with his friend, Minuette. However, war with France and scandal at home makes pursuing a relationship difficult. Will he be able to tell Minuette how he feels? What if she is in love or betrothed to another? I liked Dominic, even though there were times when I wish he would have said something more in certain situations. William is almost at the age of maturity. His Uncle George (Anne’s brother) will soon release his power over to William. He has a lot to prove as a young king, and France is not making things any easier. You can see some of Anne and Henry mixed into his character. On the other hand, he does have a mind of his own, which sets him apart from his paternity. William also finds love in this book, and being a king does not make it any easier. Finally, Elizabeth is a strong female character, just like her real-life self was. She is cool and collected, while having a head for politics and the court. She, too, has her eye on Robert Dudley – a married man. As for the other characters, they are multi-dimensional, and one never knows who is behind what.
The plot takes place over a few years to where William becomes eighteen and able to take the crown fully. Not everything is well; there are still tensions between the Catholics and Protestants, with France, Spain, and Scotland, and even around Mary and Anne. People are still not accepting Anne as their queen and some still support Mary as the next heir to the throne instead of William. A scandalous note about the birth of William is in the hands of the enemy. This note claims that William is not Henry VIII’s son but his uncle’s, George (Anne’s brother.) Hence, the name of the book – he would be a Boleyn king, not a Tudor. As the story progresses, there are some twists and turns. At first I thought that I would not find out who murdered the Alyce or who fathered the baby. I will say that it is there, and it is a surprise. I did not suspect that person. And, that’s all I’m saying. The mystery is solved but more secrets and intrigue continue within the last few pages of the book. It leaves the reader wanting to see what happens in the next book while actually completing the initial plans of this book.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, I enjoyed the book. If you love the series The Tudors or anything to do with Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I, then you might want to pick this book up. (Just a note for those that liked The Tudors: There are not any sexual detailed scenes in the book, but the renaissance scandals are still present.)