The King’s Pleasure: A Novel of Henry VIII

Ballantine. May 2023. 608p. ISBN 9780593355060. $30. F
After highlighting each of Henry VIII’s wives in turn in her “Six Tudor Queens” novels, noted historian and author Weir finally allows the mercurial monarch himself to tell his own story. Writing from Henry’s perspective allows Weir to broaden her focus beyond his marriages and delve more deeply into his intellectual life, tracing how his vision of an ideal king and queen might have evolved as he faced numerous political, religious, and personal challenges over his 38-year reign. She also demonstrates how different factions at court and an increasingly volatile Henry may have used one another to advance their own goals, even as heads began to roll.
VERDICT Even at just over 600 pages, Weir’s novel has to maintain a fairly brisk pace to cover all the events of Henry’s life from adolescence onward, making this read best suited for those already familiar with the basics of his life and marital history. Tudor fiction written from Henry’s perspective is relatively rare, and Weir offers just enough of a different take here to satisfy the era’s many enthusiastic fans eager to revisit this fascinating period one more time.
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