Thursday, July 14, 2011
Title: Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV
Author: Karleen Koen
How I Read It? Trade Paperback ARC from TLC Tours
Rating: 5 Crowns A ROYAL READ
Louis XIV is perhaps one of the best known and most glamorous monarch ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man--the man before Versailles? Bestselling author Karleen Koen takes us back to a place and time where the decisive king was just beginning to establish the strength and wealth of his kingdom--despite the many forces pushing against him.
After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who as king, willfully takes everything he can get--including his brother’s wife. While the love affair between Louis and Princess Henrietta burns, his brother’s jealousy coupled with his mother’s rage at Louis’s lack of self-control, sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.
But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven more powerful than Louis ever thought--a man who make a great ally or become a dangerous foe…
(from the arc)
Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV offers the readers a four-month glimpse into the life of the young king who would become forever known as The Sun King.
The prologue states:
Intelligent, virile, handsome, a man who made himself master of all her surveyed, Louis XIV was the foremost figure of his age. He was its prize, its comet, its star. His drive, cunning, and absolute determination to forge France into the premier kingdom of it’s time awed and frightened fellow kings. None of them could match him…
From birth, war was his backdrop, and the nobility surrounding him as he grew to manhood was as proud as Lucifer himself and as trustworthy. The ambitions of others were always faintly in the distance, or up close, naked, fangs gleaming. Louis possessed a consummate skill in turning those ambitions to his own advantage, and before he was thirty, he had become the hard, graceful, prowling lion of all of Europe.
There was a moment in his young life when he deliberately chose to grasp power. It was a moment when tenderness was still his--before time and pride closed him--a moment when his heart, like many a man’s, yearned for something true. It happened in his forest palace of Fontainebleau. Perhaps it went something like this…This excerpt was taken from the arc)
After reading the prologue, I was hooked. The powerful, graceful writing continues throughout the novel offering the reader a beautiful story of a young Louis XIV. Love, lust, desire, passion, politics, mystery, and intrigue are brought to life in a setting like no other, and each element allows the reader to be drawn into to the French court.
This novel shows the beginning of the young man who became known as one of the greatest kings in Europe. It shows the young man who, after the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, began to seek out the limits of his title, only to find that he had none, which led to the absolute power he ultimately held.
The characters were brilliant, I found that they stayed with me after finishing and I found myself thinking of them every now and then. I believe that was attributed the fact that Karleen Koen’s characters were well rounded and well portrayed. The plot was also a gem, and while she did rely on the facts history provided, she added a freshness to the story.
Overall, this is one of my favorite books featuring Louis XIV and hope that a sequel follows.
Would I read it again: Most Definitely!
Who would I recommend this book to? Lovers of historical fictions. Readers of Louis XIV. I would also recommend this book to those who follow the reign of Charles II.
I have one copy of Before Versailles to giveaway.
US/Canada residents only.
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Giveaway ends: July 31
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 10:19 AM