After having read a score of books on Anna Boleyn's rise and fall, this one seems to be the most thorough and balanced.
Going through every aspect of Anne's fall, from the very real political machinations to the spectral appearances post mortem, Weir leaves no stone unturned. Disclosing the reasoning behind Anne's vilification and later sympathetic romantic legacy, this book ambitiously weaves through the impact of her life in a balanced way.
If you love details, historical political intrigue, the stories behind events, or just want a good idea of what really happened- this is likely the best you can do.
However, if you are hankering after a historical romance, a novelized version that puts you into Anne's daily life, then this may be a little too dry for you. It's not The Other Boleyn Girl, it's just the facts.
It took a little while to get into this one, but once the threads of the stories are established, it kicks into gear and moves with balance and swiftness.
The good things: Great historical touches. Good pacing in the narration, and the reader shows an impressive array of accents and voices.
The bad things: As has been pointed out by critics, some of the dialogue and more emotive descriptions veer towards being trite, cheesy or cringeworthy. The (sometimes silly) injections of erotic content are frequent, so be wary if that's not your bag.
Overall: Once I got hooked into the story it was layered and very enjoyable, and it's an incredibly interesting period of history. From trenches to drawing rooms, it attempts to cover a huge range of political and social issues with human, relatable characters. Quite an accomplishment.
I want world domination. Sure, don't we all?
Filled with interesting anecdotes, and methods of machiavellian maneuvering, this book is ideal inspiriation for the brooding evil genius or dictator within us. Often contradictory, the contents are still certainly fun.
The narrator does have a tendency towards slow, deliberate speech for unnecessary emphasis, but it's still listenable. The random musical interludes could have been done away with. Otherwise thoroughly entertaining.
This book was an absolute delight. The narrator understood the cheeky, frank and fun style of the writer, and made it very engaging to listen to.
The wide variety of topics covered in Ancient Egypt gave you a great overview of life and times. The finely detailed particulars are related to us with a modern sensibility, and an scholarly intelligence that make you want to learn more.
It's clear the writer adores her subject matter. It's like sitting down to have a feisty professor aunt tell you her favorite stories from Egypt.
Perhaps I've been spoiled listening to the rigorous scholarship on the Tudors of Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser.
If you've never been introduced to the story of Katharine of Aragon, then this might be a good basic introduction.
However, the dialog is often trite and feels far too modern, especially between the children. Written with heavy foresight, each child's fate seems a forgone conclusion. The result feels whiny and a little immature.
The side-story about Juana the Mad is engaging, but once again demeaned to soap opera levels of reality.
If you want more convincing history: Read the Six Wives of Henry VIII.
If you want a vivid, sexy and engaging story about Katherine and don't mind how accurate the history is: Read the Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory.
Gripping, fantastic. Great narration, great story. Had me hooked from the start, with its twisted mind games and slowly unraveling power struggles.
If you like your books with espionage, politics, military manipulation, and mind control, this will not disappoint.
Between snippets of interesting facts, I find myself tuning out for long patches in this one. It's not overly dense, or even difficult to understand. It's just that it's not grabbing me.
I've gotten through Middlemarch with this narrator. I thought we could do this. Nope, it's easy to tune out and slightly annoying.
This MAY be a profoundly good book.
Frankly, the narrator alienated me with his snarky voice and horrible female impersonations.
Also, the book seems heavily weighted towards the Turkish side, with a rather degrading view of the Greeks.
Had expected a little more balance in such an observant writer. War description is detailed and fascinating, but the smug, nasal narration really lets it down.
A brilliantly intertwined plot of espionage, romance, business strategy, deception, and war on the brew. The narration is clever and self-effacing, the characters are intriguing. Please find me any other book that can blend gypsy fortune tellers and the stock market, while maintaining a dry wit throughout. Stellar!
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