Young Henry began his rule as a magnificent and chivalrous Renaissance prince who embodied every virtue. He had all the qualities to make a triumph of his rule, yet we remember only the violence. Henry famously broke with the Pope, founding the Church of England and launching a religious revolution that divided his kingdom. He beheaded two of his wives and cast aside two others. He died a suspicious, obese, disease-riddled tyrant, old before his time. His reign is remembered as one of dangerous intrigue and bloodshed—and yet the truth is far more complex.
The King’s Pleasure brings to life the idealistic monarch who expanded Parliament, founded the Royal Navy, modernized medical training, composed music and poetry, and patronized the arts. A passionate man in search of true love, he was stymied by the imperative to produce a male heir, as much a victim of circumstance as his unhappy wives. Had fate been kinder to him, the history of England would have been very different.
Here is the story of the private man. To his contemporaries, he was a great king, a legend in his own lifetime. And he left an extraordinary legacy—a modern Britain.
The King’s Pleasure (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible)
Alison Weir knows her Tudors. Whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, she seems to have scoured all available sources for information and compiled a healthy number of books on the subject. I’ve read or listened to several (Click here for reviews) and Weir proves herself as a very good historian who also knows how to write a book. Following the six-book historical book series on the wives of Henry VII, she decided it was time to write a book from his point of view.
For the most part, this book works, if you don’t mind minutiae about Henry VIII. Weir’s biggest problem, and my problem reading the 600-page book, is that things move along very slowly. Indeed, you have to get 50% through the book before Anne Boleyn becomes a part of the story.
Weir makes sure to mention key players during “Harry’s” reign (using the familiar name makes the king seem more human, rather than the tyrant he became. The book is a good detailed look at Henry’s reign in fictional form. There was a lot going on besides Henry’s obsession with a mail heir, and it shows in the work.
Despite my interest in the subject and knowing the plethora of information Weir drew upon to weave her tale, at times I grew bored. I liked the book well enough, the story is interesting and compelling, yet I feel I would have enjoyed this long book a lot better if I listened to it instead of reading it to do it justice.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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