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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

King’s Fool by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Title: King’s Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives and the One Man who knew all Their Secrets

Author: Margaret Campbell Barnes

Publisher: Source Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4.5

Synopsis: A young shy boy born in Shropshire , Will Somers soon leaves his home for the household of merchant Richard Fermor. Will soon becomes a well loved part of the household, and especially of Fermor’s daughter Joanna. As fate would have it, he accompanies Master Fermor to court and comes to the notice of King Henry VIII after mimicking one of his counselors during a sporting competition. Henry takes an immediate liking to Will and makes him his jester on the spot-an opportunity many would consider lucky. Will does not however as all he wants is to return with Master Fermor to be with Joanna.

Will soon learns though that ridiculous costume aside, his job has many perks including the ability to address the King informally and say whatever he wants in the name of entertainment. He soon becomes an accepted member of the royal family and as such is accorded a front row seat to history. Will gives a firsthand account of the tumultuous love life of Henry VIII and a person glimpse of the man behind the crown. Through it all he is also able to influence the King in his own way, pointing out injustices and suggesting the King extend kindnesses to those deserving through humor.

Review: I have one word for this book: brilliant! Margaret Campbell Barnes takes a man that has often played a secondary role in many a Tudor book I’ve read and really makes him shine. Through her portrayal we see Will Somers as an intelligent, kind human being, not just the Fool willing to do anything for a good laugh as his title suggests. She also does an admirable job of showing both sides of Henry VIII-the roaring tyrant and as time goes on the paranoid, weary man constantly trying to appease his conscience. Seeing the Tudor Court and its inner workings through Will’s eyes brings a refreshing perspective to a much told story. We see a vulnerable Princess Mary caught in the ever-changing political tides of the time, and the scheming Cromwell always looking for a way to bring more money to the crown as well as a peek at all six of those lovely ladies who had the misfortune to catch the eye of the King of England.

I honestly cannot find one bad thing to say about this book except that I wish it had been longer.

The author does a marvelous job of giving a voice to a man that had the King’s ear for 22 years and managed to keep his head and get the girl in the process. A must read for any Tudor fan.

Note: I gave this 4.5 crowns. I didn't give it 5 crowns because it said on the rating descriptions that it had to recieve 4.5 crowns from 3 reviewers before receiving a 5 but it is definitely a 5 crown read :)

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Marg said...

This is one of the only rereleases that I haven't read! I own it, I just need to find time to read it.

Passages to the Past said...

Fabulous review! I too LOVED this book - it was a fascinating glimpse into the mind of King Henry VIII and Will was a character you really felt drawn to.

Daphne said...

I have read several other books by the author and liked them - this is one that I don't own though. I may have to remedy that!!

Unknown said...

I own a few of Barnes' books, but have yet to find this one - tho I have really wanted it. So glad to hear a great review - I got bogged down when reading Within the Hollow Crown.

許靜怡 said...
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