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Vikings to Virgin: The Hazards of Being King: First Book of the 'V 2 V' Series Paperback – February 28, 2017
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Trisha Hughes is an Australian author who started writing eighteen years ago with her bestselling autobiography Daughters of Nazareth. Trisha has since written a series of crime thrillers and is presently completing her trilogy on British monarchs throughout the centuries. She lives in Hong Kong with her husband David and Irish Setter, Scarlet.
Top customer reviews
This was a most informative book and I felt the author did a great job of bringing each of these Kings and Queens to life while also giving the reader a great insight to such issues as disease and aliments suffered at the time. I thought I knew a lot about Henry VIII but after reading this he's even more shocking than I first thought.
I think what I loved about this book the most was how it’s presented. Rather than focusing on one person this book covers many and that made it different compared to anything else I’ve read.
Some of the rulers covered I’ve read about previously and I thought I might be bored reading things I already know but Trisha’s style of writing made it exciting again and I loved it from start to finish.
This is a historical fiction novel but only in the sense that the author has used dates/events to the best of her knowledge and research. There is of course periods in time where little evidence remains or when we do have sources available there’s generally another which says something different.
My advice to the hardcore historically accurate people, just enjoy the tale for what it is. This book brings together so many periods of time into bitesize chunks manageable by anyone and enables the reader to then delve further if they wish.
This is the kind of book that gives you the juicy interesting facts and ignites the flames of passion for history. I’m a big fan of history. It was probably my favourite subject at school and it’s certainly made me want to revisit a few historical characters.
If you like your history but don’t want to get into something a little too heavy then this is the prefect condensed but action packed and detailed version of history you’re after!
This book is rated as a Historical Fiction so I'm assuming that means there is some leeway with some of the information. Regardless of this, I wanted a good story and I certainly got one. I absolutely enjoyed her brilliant way of bringing the monarchs back to life. There are endless authors who write about one particular monarch or dynasty but no one has been brave enough to pack so much into one book before, which makes it unique. She has touched on every monarch and given us a taste of their lives in such a wonderful way.
Her writing is highly enjoyable and the stories are vivid. I can only recommend it highly.
From the beginning Hughes writes in her Foreword that, "I have adhered to the facts as best I can and hope that it will make is easier to visualise these past monarchs as flesh and blood characters and not simply eccentrics in a history book." I'll give the author that - she did these men and women to life for me and did a brilliant job telling their stories...that is, until the Tudor period. But we'll get back to that in a little bit.
As far as the early rulers of England go, I was surprised to read how quickly, and sometimes suspiciously, the person sitting on the throne changed. There seemed to have been a lot of rulers who were poisoned or murdered so another could wear the crown. Maybe surprised isn't the correct word to use because we know how things happened during the Wars of the Roses. The correct term would be amazed - that being a ruler in England was always a tenuous position for those that held it.
The storytelling by Hughes is wonderful. It brought me into the story and I wanted to know more. She did a great job at finding the interesting points of each ruler to share with the reader. Like the time a Scottish king rode his horse off a cliff at night which allowed Edward I to look closer at taking the throne of Scotland for himself.
The section on the mighty Plantagenet dynasty is 179 pages of the 352 page book, and rightfully so since they ruled the country for over 300 years. I would love for someone who is an expert on this dynasty to read the book and fact check it for me. The impression I got from this book is that it is non-fiction, but there is no notes or bibliography section of the book for me to check her sources. I can about imagine how large of a section that would be for a book covering this vast timeline but without it I'm left wondering how accurate it is.
Speaking of accuracy, I arrived at the section of the book about the Tudors - a whole 73 pages - and from the beginning of the chapter about Henry VIII I could tell something was a bit off. Starting with this line, "Henry was crowned in the beautiful sunshine of Midsummer 1503..." Uh, what? 1503!? As all Tudor fanatics know, Henry was crowned in 1509, after the death of Henry VII. In 1503, Henry VIII was 12 years old. It was the year that his mother, Elizabeth of York died after giving birth to a daughter. From this moment my radar was on and looking for mistakes.
Next, I came across a section about the execution of Anne Boleyn (page 312) that stated a day after the execution of Anne that Henry married Jane Seymour. Sigh. I'm not sure who fact checked this section of the book but it clearly was not someone who specializes in the Tudors. Henry VIII married Jane Seymour on May 30th - not May 20th. It's been said that they became engaged on the 20th.
The next "fact" in the section about Henry VIII that I question is where the author states that Henry, after the death of Jane Seymour on 24 October 1537, immediately began looking for a new wife. It was not immediate by any means. If I recall correctly, Henry went into seclusion for a long while after the death of his sweet Jane. Thomas Cromwell and the Council may have been looking for a replacement queen for Henry but it wasn't immediately after her death. Henry dressed in mourning clothes for months after the death of his beloved wife. It wasn't until 1539 when negotiations concluded for the marriage with Anne of Cleves.
This can be found in 'Letter and Papers of Henry VIII', believed to be from Cromwell (in Wriothelsey's hand) to Lord William Howard and Gardiner:
The date is unknown but marked as possibly end of October 1537
"They are to announce to Francis that though the Prince is well and "sucketh like a child of his puissance," the Queen, by the neglect of those about her who suffered her to take cold and eat such things as her fantasy in sickness called for, is dead. The King, though he takes this chance reasonably, is little disposed to marry again, but some of his Council have thought it meet for us to urge him to it for the sake of his realm, and he has "framed his mind, both to be indifferent to the thing and to the election of any person from any part that with deliberation shall be thought meet." Two persons in France might be thought on, viz., the French king's daughter (said to be not the meetest) and Madame de Longueville, of whose qualities you are to inquire, and also on what terms the King of Scots stands with either of them. Lord William must not return without ascertaining this, but the inquiry must be kept secret.
In addition, the section about Anne of Cleves says, matter of factly, that Henry VIII called her - "Flanders Mare" - there is no contemporary evidence of this being fact. I'll quote Tudor author Claire Ridgway here"
By the way, there is no contemporary evidence for Henry VIII calling Anne of Cleves a “Flanders Mare”. Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, wrote in his 1679 book that Henry “swore they had brought over a Flanders mare to him”, but that is him saying that Henry VIII uttered those words and it is not backed up by evidence. Anne was not from Flanders anyway, something that Henry VIII was well aware of. - Further reading: Anne of Cleves - Flanders Mare?
When we arrive to the section about Catherine Howard, Hughes writes that her father was Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (page 317). This again, is incorrect. Her father was Edmund Howard. Then on page 318, it says that Catherine Howard's final words were, "I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpepper." False. She never said that.
It was at this point that I put away the book - I couldn't in good faith finish it. I was appalled at the glaring errors that even I, just a Tudor enthusiast could point out. It honestly upsets me that this book has gone out to the masses spreading inaccurate information. Now I'm questioning the accuracy of the rest of the book.