The Boleyn King

In the wake of The Tudors and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Laura Anderson delivers in her debut novel a glamorous royal drama--but The Boleyn King offers a refreshingly offbeat, counterfactual take on the familiar story.

What if Queen Anne had not miscarried in 1536 and thus not been executed? Anderson invents a male heir--the charismatic, 17-year-old William--who experiences his first taste of unbridled power as the novel begins. Threatened by both the continental nobility and his Catholic half-sister, Mary, William is determined to prove himself as a ruler. Rather than lean on advisers twice his age, the young king relies on a close group of friends that have grown up with him.

While The Boleyn King pivots on Europe's political tensions, it is just as much about friendship as it is about ruling a kingdom. Anderson's characters are innocent and prideful, their lives fraught with all the surging affections and restless energy of adolescence. The difference, of course, is that they must navigate these feelings while governing a country. Tudor England was an era in which the young and inexperienced were still granted dizzying power, and Anderson captures this atmosphere insightfully. The Boleyn King is the first book in a trilogy that promises to be inventive and entertaining. --Annie Atherton, intern at Shelf Awareness

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