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The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

Posted By Claire on June 5, 2013

The Boleyn KingWe all love to “what if” when it comes to Anne Boleyn, don’t we?  – What if she hadn’t miscarried? What if that baby had been a living son? What if she hadn’t been executed? – but I’ve never been keen on the idea of alternative history novels, particularly after reading an awful one. However, the temptation was too much after reading the blurb and I’m so glad I gave in.

The Boleyn King opens with a prelude in which Queen Anne Boleyn gives birth to a healthy son on 28th June 1536 and then Chapter 1 fastforwards to 28th June 1553, where we are introduced to Minuette, full name Genevieve Antoinette Wyatt, the main character of the story. Minuette is a childhood friend of King Henry IX (known to his friends and family as William), his sister Elizabeth, and Dominic Courtenay, and is a ward of Anne Boleyn, the Queen Dowager, and lady-in-waiting to Princess Elizabeth. Most of the story is told through Minuette’s eyes, but we also see events through those of Dominic and William. The novel is set in William’s reign, as he prepares to take over from George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, who has acted as Lord Protector during William’s minority, and is a wonderful mix of intrigue and romance. Both Dominic and William have feelings for Minuette, although William is taking full advantage of being King and having a mistress, but the main theme is the four friends’ struggle to uncover a Catholic plot against the King. They must discover the whereabouts of “The Penitent’s Confession”, a document that is said to be evidence of William’s illegitimacy, before the Catholics produce it and challenge William’s status as King. Danger seems to be around every corner.

It is a thrilling read and I love the interaction between the four friends. I also loved meeting the older Anne Boleyn! I can’t wait for the second book in the trilogy, The Boleyn Deceit, which is due out in November of this year.

Blurb from Amazon

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.

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (May 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345534093
ISBN-13: 978-0345534095
Available as an ebook and paperback from, Amazon UK or your usual bookstore.


9 Responses to “The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen”

  1. Shoshana says:

    Oh, I love this idea! I made a rule long ago that I would not read any books in a series until the last was published; I can’t stand the waiting!! I would rather wait and read all the books in order without waiting one day between them. So it will be awhile before I read this series but I am looking forward to it. The idea is so imaginative; there could be so many twists and turns.

  2. kathy from Canada says:

    Thank you for posting your review on this book. I saw it last week at the local book store and read the jacket and it sounded interesting but like you I had been disappointed in the past with this type of ‘what if’ scenario. Now that I’ve read your review, I ‘m going to pick it up tomorrow. Will definitely give it a chance now.

  3. Lisa H says:

    I just finished this book a couple of weeks ago myself, and I loved it. I’d tried a few What If books like this before but none were worthwhile until The Boleyn King.

    I tried to pre-order the sequel, but it’s not available for Kindle – confusing, since I had pre-ordered this first one for Kindle and it delivered on time, no formatting problems, all good.

    Thanks for the review Claire – I agree with you and highly recommend this book to anyone. *****

  4. BanditQueen says:

    Why on earth would he be called William? That is just pandering to the modern hype aeound the present Prince William. Surely Anne would have named her son by Henry either Henry or Edward as both are family names from the time?

  5. BanditQueen says:

    What does the author mean by the ‘Catholics’ are plotting a rebellion? Even with the reforms the majority of people in England were still Catholic by the end of the reign of Henry VIII and that would have remained the same no matter what happened. You cannot force people to change religion. Henry VIII remained essentially Catholic at heart and there is no way the majority of England would suddenly become Protestant over such a short period of time, 20-30 years od so, not without being forced to change. So does that mean the majority of the country are plotting rebellion as the majority would still be Catholic?

  6. Lisa H says:

    The blurb correctly shows that the young king is Henry IX but is known as William to familiars. While we are more used to this type of thing now (Edward VII was named Albert Edward and called Bertie, etc) this was not unknown in the 16th century.

    Had Anne lived to further influence the Reformation, and had Uncle George Boleyn had a hand in raising the young prince (as Edward Seymour did with Edward VI) then who knows how quickly England would have settled into Protestantism?

    The book begins in 1553, which in our time would have been near the end of the very Protestant Edward VI’s reign. Of course not all of England was Protestant – thus the conspiracy, which involves some very prominent nobles. But to say that the majority of England in “our” universe was still Catholic by 1553 isn’t true either.

    (At Edward VI’s death it was possible for England to go either way on the religious question, which is likely why Mary I issued a proclamation in the early days of her reign that she would not force anyone to follow her religion.)

    To use the word Catholic in this time would be to refer to Roman Catholicism.

  7. Charlene says:

    I loved the idea, but I wish she hadn’t turned her protagonist and his friends into American teenagers. I wanted so much for Anne to be a major character, but you rarely see her.

    I wish her history had been better too. I was really disappointed.

  8. Crystal Merrill says:

    I enjoyed this book, but I agree with many of the comments above. I had hoped to see a lot more of Anne, and maybe even Anne with Henry. I will read the next book to see what happens to the characters, but I really wish the first book had been just a little different.

  9. Dee says:

    Just finished reading it and I was frankly disappointed. Wonderful idea–poor execution. Compelling enough that I’ll read the rest of the trilogy but in no way do I wish to own it or reread it. Shallow overall, and like Charlene says, very American teenager-ish. Probably a good choice for fans of Philippa Gregory’s TOBG, but I didn’t care for her Tudor novels. Lots of little jarring notes that I am aware are YMMV, although I really barked my toes on the concept of an independent Netherlands in the 1550s, much less there being a Queen (the 1st rulers of the Netherlands were Stadtholders, not Kings). Regent would have been more appropriate, with the nod that it’s Hapsburg territory.

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