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The King's Pleasure

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This book is a novelization of the life of Henry VIII, told from Henry's perspective. At 600 pages, it's thorough in recounting well-known events. The only thing that's surprising is how passive Henry is, how easily led by the people around him. There's little character growth—he starts out a selfish child and ends up a selfish child. I suppose that's one sort of commentary on his life, if not a very interesting one. His wives are also portrayed as stock characters. The novel is engaging and readable, but I can't help thinking there was a lost opportunity to delve more deeply into the complex psychology of a man who executed so many of the people closest to him—to show him as an unreliable narrator who doesn't recognize what a monster he's become.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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Alison Weir does such a great job with painting a historical picture of King Henry viii. I have loved all of her historical fiction books and will continue to read them all!
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Having actually enjoyed Alison Weir’s nonfiction book on Medieval English queens, I jumped on the chance to read this novel about Henry VIII — but in the end it left me cold. And I think I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of big issues that kept irking me.

First of all, I’m not sure if this book knows what it wants to be. A novel wanting to be a biography? A biography trying to get novelized? But a novel really needs something more than just a year-by-year life recap with a bit of inner commentary thrown in. You can’t skip detail in a nonfiction biography, but the beauty of a novel lies in the possibility to omit some detail and focus on character development and introspection and any sort of a plot that goes beyond the Cliffs notes version of a life. 

But here with all the unnecessary details in 600 pages there still was no depth or plot besides superficial events recounting.

The second issue is the protagonist. This book gives us “Harry’s” perspective, but unfortunately the way he is presented here he’s just plainly not that interesting. Here he’s a bit of an easily confused yet stubborn bumbling buffoon who mostly just reacts to other people unsubtle pointing him in the direction they manipulatively want him to go, and he just sort of blunders through life in a thick fog of confusion. He doesn’t ever have his own opinion besides being told by others how to act and what to feel — and that gets tedious pretty quickly. We are told what happened, but there is no exploration of why. If “Harry” doesn’t quite understand why he does the things he does, how am I supposed to? 

I think the goal was to show that the supposed bloodthirsty tyrant was actually not always to blame for his actions, but I was starting to wonder how he ever managed to walk, talk and breathe at the same time without falling over. Not to say that “Harry” wasn’t a dense easily fooled and whiny meathead, but being inside his head was really not that interesting and honestly, felt a bit like an unpleasant chore.

And interesting people and events were left at the periphery of the story, losing the potential to liven this up and bring any kind of life to the plodding narrative of Henry’s life. I would have loved more Wolsey or Norfolk or Cromwell and a bit less speculations of “Harry” being put off by vaginal odor or too-thin of a body, and fewer painfully earnest inner voice proclamations of his.

I wish Weir just had written a straightforward biography of Henry VIII which could have read close to a novel than a novel that reads like a substandard biography.

2 stars.


Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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As always, I love the immersive details and descriptions Weir gives to bring these historical figures to life in her novels. I definitely recommend checking this one out if you're a fan of her Tudor Queens Series.
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I was so happy to see Allison we’re is going to give Henry the eighth her Royal historical treatment. From the age of 12 until his death she covers everything from his many wives to his children legitimate and one not so legitimate I love the voice that the author gave to king Henry known as Harry to his family and his historical counterparts I am a big fan of her books and cannot wait to read the next one kudos to the author for another great historical fiction achievement it is a book I highly recommend to any historical fiction fan and or just a thing of royalty the authors writing keeps you captivated and turning the pages I absolutely loved it a definite five star read. I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.
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As a fan of Alison Weir’s writing, I know I can lean on her works to have a strong factual foundation. The King’s Pleasure is no different. A year by year fictional account of Henry VIII’s life, this novel is a treat for any Tudor lover.   Details give the thoughts of the king throughout. We are privy to his reasons (based on Weir’s research) behind so many historical decisions. I was excited to get a version of him where the overarching subject is simply “Harry”, his feelings, his closest friends, where he travelled, decisions on finances, what made him obsessed and his loves. His wives are part of his story, but they are merely side characters reacting to his ever changing personality and worries. The author is careful show the rich world of which Henry was a part, such as other world leaders, movement of his troops, opulent clothes created and gifts given. How much goes into a king’s life?  Weir portrays him as less of an ogre, and more reactionary based on his situation. We get a glimpse of how this king is a function of those around him, his upbringing, and his need for an heir.  At the start of the book we are treated to snippets of Henry’s writings, his own words to ponder. Some institutions have not changed, and the English monarchy was and is in need to put forth the best image. I suggest this novel for those taking a first deep dive into Tudor history or as a parallel to Reformation history. I will be reading and referring back to it again and again. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher Penguin Random House for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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The King's Pleasure is a captivating novel by Alison Weir that delves into the intriguing life of Henry VIII. Weir masterfully blends historical facts with her own creative imagination to create a compelling narrative. The book is a delightful read that offers a unique perspective on the king's motivations and conversations. Weir's writing style is engaging and entertaining, making the story come alive for readers. Overall, "The King's Pleasure" is a must-read for anyone interested in Tudor history or simply looking for an enjoyable and well-written novel.
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The King's Pleasure by Alison Weir is historical fiction that is so readable and yet rich with history. This story is teh story of King Henry the VIII, his life and his wives told from his perspective. Often in other books we see Henry from the outside in, but in this case Weir gives us context of how he may have come to be who he was and why he may have acted as he did. One of the big lessons is that absolute power absolutely corrupts.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book. I'm a Weir fan and this one was very enjoyable.
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Henry VIII (or Harry as he's styled here) was a big man and this is a big and somewhat daunting book. Fans of Weir know that she writes in great detail and that yes, she does take liberties (who really knows what someone said) but that the reader will always learn something,  Here she's finally given the other side of the story, as it were, after telling the stories of his six wives,  It's an interesting perspective and allows Weir to stretch a bit.  This is historical fiction for those who are willing to commit swaths of time.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A good read.
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Having read and loved most of Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series, I was really looking forward to hearing from the Man himself, KIng Henry VIII. However, I finished this novel feeling that although I read a lot about him, I really didn’t know him all that well, at least not like I felt like I “knew” his queens after each of their books.

The KIng’s Pleasure reads as narrative history, with very little dialogue. It is very informative and interesting, but dry. Any conversations that are recounted are clearly there for a purpose, such as to reveal his views on war, education, women, etc. And actions are described but not “lived.”

I enjoyed this about as much as I would have enjoyed a biography of Henry VIII. It was well-written and engrossing, but there seemed to be very little life in it. I look to historical fiction to bring life to historical events and characters, and I didn’t see that here. It is well worth reading, but not engaging or emotional at all.

I received this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I rate it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.
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I really love Ms. Weir writing and I love everything Tudor, but this one was just a bit slow for me. Thank you netgalley and publisher for the arc in exchange of an honest review.
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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, 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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After renowned British royal author Alison Weir wrapped up her "Six Queens" Tudor historical fiction series, I was delighted to learn that she would next write from the point of view of King Henry VIII.  What a fitting wrap up to this whole, luxurious collection.  At the same time, this is the next installment to its predecessor, "The Last White Rose", which recounted the history of his mother and father.  

This tome is over 500 pages and felt like it.  It begins as his beloved mother dies and his older brother (and Prince of Wales) Arthur marries Princess Katherine of Aragon, and ends with King Henry VIII's death.  The largest breadth of the book covers Henry's marriages to first and second wives Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, taking the reader well past the halfway mark.  As an avid reader of Tudor history these past thirty years, I cannot say that I learned anything new here.  As a piece of historical fiction, the author took poetic license and piqued my interest in certain areas like pregnancies and pre-marital indulgences with previously thought innocent prospective wives.  I also found Henry's thoughts about disrobed Anne Boleyn's body (upon their first coupling) quite original- and it made me chuckle.  

The bottom line is, if you are well read on this subject, King Henry's thoughts will mostly be of no surprise.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
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I sadly did not love this one. I will read absolutely anything about the Tudor era, so maybe I've just overdone it? Maybe I just inherently don't care about Henry's perspective. But mostly I just had a really tough time getting engaged in this story. It felt like simultaneously too much and not enough - to cover a man as intricate as Henry VIII in one book (albeit a fairly long one) means that a lot of this will end up being surface level. It really felt like it was written more as telling vs. showing, with very basic thoughts interposed on historical events. But it also felt far too long at times, like everything that was known about Henry VIII had to be incorporated, instead of choosing bits to tell a particular angle of the story. I will of course continue reading the series and honestly everything Alison Weir writes, but I'm looking forward to the next book returning to a woman's perspective.
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The King's Pleasure is the second book in the Tudor Rose series, the first is about Elizabeth of York and Henry's mother. It is a lengthy book at 590 pages in the Kindle version. It took me several afternoons to finish the book. Each of the books are written in the voice of the primary figure, in this case King Henry VIII.

Henry began his rule under a cloud of whether he can legally marry his older brother's wife, Catherine of Aragon. After they finally marry his primary focus to produce a male heir. As we know Henry had six wives, the majority of which had multiple miscarriages in order to do so. 

His legacy is wide and long lasting from expanding Parliament, founded the Royal Navy, modernized medical training, composed music and poetry.  

This book is well written and blends historical fact with what could possibly be the thoughts of the infamous King Henry VIII.

It's an interesting idea to infer the thoughts and ideas based on history. It does make the characters more interesting with dialogue. It could not have been easy being the second born and ill-prepared to become King with all the power hungry and scheming of court life.

If you’re interested in the Tudor era and the beginnings of the Royal Family, then you will likely be a fan of this series.
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 
At long last, after having written novels for each of Henry VIII’s wives, Alison Weir has dared to tackle the life of Henry himself in The King’s Pleasure. It’s not an easy task, with the book covering the majority of his life from the death of his mother (where Weir’s precious fictional work about Elizabeth of York left off) and going through his life and times, including his six eventful marriages. The result, as expected, is of truly epic proportions. 
Henry is a truly fascinating figure, and Weir does a great job fleshing him out and depicting the complexities that made the glorious, virtuous prince of his youth turn into the infamous tyrant that he has gone down in history as. From his upbringing by his father who came to the throne based on a claim of conquest and worked to establish a new dynasty, even as claimants from the old one still remained to threaten both their power, to the real dynastic issues Henry’s inability to have a legitimate son caused, I appreciate how all this was explained from his perspective, especially with the stakes rising as he aged. While a part of his character is also very self-serving, he does try to make it so that his own personal interests and that of the realm align. It can be hard to root for someone who is able to justify anything for that purpose, even executing people he once deified, but if you know anything at all about Henry VIII,  you pretty much know what you’re getting with this story. 
Having read most of Weir’s Six Wives novels and read a lot about his marriages elsewhere, it was fun to get his perspective on things, as I had never read that angle before in any other book. His complex emotions as his wives in succession disappointed him were interesting as well, as it added an element of humanity to him amid the romantic dramas (even if I did seriously question his logic at various times, even though I admit to having the benefit of hindsight and modern knowledge of things science and medicine). 
I do have issues with how Weir’s bias has informed some of her choices, and that has impacted my reading experience with her fiction in the past. The anti-Anne Boleyn bias was much less pronounced this time around (an obstacle to my being able to finish Weir’s Anne Boleyn novel), however I object to the theories that carry over from Weir’s book on Anne’s execution, The Lady in the Tower. The idea that Cromwell framed Anne, and Henry believed Anne guilty doesn’t quite fit for me, especially when other historians have pointed out the swiftness with which Henry moved on (actually he’d already moved on to Jane) and the brief timeline from arrest to trial to execution, compared to the long, drawn-out process of the fall of Kathryn Howard. It’s especially startling when the book depicts him being taken off-guard by both his allegedly unfaithful wives’ behavior, with the only difference being Henry still had tender, wounded feelings for Kathryn (vs frustration with Anne). Weir also  repeat some other claims, such as Jane Boleyn’s involvement in the fall of Anne and George, while she attempts to at least partially rehabilitate Mary Boleyn. But she has written about the Boleyns before, I assume readers would know what to expect if they’ve picked up any of her Boleyn-related titles in the past. 
Other than that, Weir has gained her reputation as a reputable historian of Tudor history for a reason, and she clearly knows her stuff. She blends the facts with fiction expertly here, and brings to life the story of one of the most infamous monarchs in British history perfectly. If you’re interested at all in historical fiction about Henry, the Tudors, or the British monarchy, I’d recommend checking this out!
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It is through my travels in England and the books I’ve read by Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory that I have a modest understanding of several centuries of British royalty.  Weir makes history readable and accessible.  And I can count on her books to be well researched with sources documented.  She has previously written about all of the wives of Henry VIII so I guess it makes sense that he gets his own book.  

At just over 500 pages there is a lot of life to read through.  Henry’s mother dies when he is young which impacts his life.  His father was strict and distant.  His first marriage is to Katherine of Aragon is arranged for political reasons but there is love.  Unfortunately there were many still births, miscarriages and no sons.  The book covers each of the successive wives; Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katheryn Howard and Katherine Parr (who outlives him).  

Henry goes from an athletic, generous king who loves hunts and parties to a man more tyrannical and obsessed with having a son and heir.  Weir sticks with knows facts or accepted stories and doesn’t add speculative theories.  And not surprisingly, while I was sympathetic to many wives from books I’ve read about them I didn’t have the same empathy for Henry/Harry.  

I’m glad to have read this but and I learned some new things about the King Henry VIII.  I usually read books straight through but I found it easier to take breaks and read from other books while continuing with this one.  Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine for the ARC and I’m leaving a voluntary review.
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Since I began reading her Six Tudor Queens series, I have been a huge fan of Alison Weir. After collecting all six Queen novels, I went back through Ms. Weir's work and began listening to audiobooks of her historical works on the Tudors, as well as some of her other novels. I believe that Ms. Weir does spectacular work. Although the novels are usually on the longer side, her prose is quick-moving. No chapters feel like they stall or fail to move the action forward. 

So as can be imagined, when I heard she was doing a novel about Henry VIII to finish the series, I was thrilled and immediately requested an ARC. I was even more ecstatic when I received approval, dancing around, squealing, and bragging to all my friends about getting to review this book. And as with the Tudor Queens series, Ms. Weir did not disappoint. Seeing events that were previously recorded by each queen from the point of view of their king proved a thoroughly interesting, edifying experience.

The thing that I found most interesting was that Ms. Weir was able through her writing to make me relate to Henry in ways I didn't expect to. Maybe I won't go so far as to say that she made me have sympathy for the devil, but I did find that I could understand his outlook and his decisions, even though I agreed with very few of them. She manages to bring forward the man behind the monarch, even though he is ultimately still a man who finds very little fault in himself and constantly blames his mistakes and flaws on others. 

He makes decisions at the slightest whisper of treason, in the heat of the moment, only to realize later that he made a mistake or acted in error and seriously regret his actions. His temper flares. He speaks hastily. Overall, the impression is of a man who wasn't supposed to be king, spoiled and indulged, and unable or unwilling to curve his own appetites or correct his faults. I think a quote that I found in one of the later chapters where Henry is speaking to his last wife, Katherine Parr, sums up his attitude fairly well:
"God willed that I should suffer many mishaps in my marriages - but there were others to blame, of course."

I don't think Ms. Weir could have encapsulated the king better. I enjoyed the read immensely, and I will wholeheartedly recommend The King's Pleasure as a great finishing touch to the Tudor Queen series. I look forward to whatever Ms. Weir has in store next. Thank you so much to Netgalley and to Random House/Ballantine for the Advance Reader Copy!
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I am obsessed with Alison Weir’s writing! I’m so glad there is a book based on Henry. Most authors focus on the wives but this was a breath of fresh air hearing his story. I have not read much about his early years and it was so interesting to read about how he was prevented from marrying the one he really loved but then everyone knows how he eventually turns out. You can tell Alison did her research with this book. She is one of my favorite historical fiction authors.
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I was so excited to see that Alison Weir had written a novel about Henry VIII. Not many novels about him exist and I am so happy she chose to add his perspective. At the beginning of the novel, I sympathized with him because his dad was holding him back from marrying his "true love". From there, it went all downhill and Harry turned into the royal jerk we all know him to be. I loved every second of it and now and running to re-read Weir's Six Tudor Queens series.
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