Tuesday 10 January 2012

10. VIII by H.M Castor

VIII by H.M Castor
Published November 2011 Penguin

VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is plagued by the ghosts of his family's violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII.

The story starts with Hal (as he is referred to in the book) at age 7 and then age 10 when he became Prince of Wales after the death of his brother, and then we move on to Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon at age 17.  I did expect there to be more of Henry as a boy and young man, but when you are married at 17, your childhood is somewhat limited. The relationship between Henry and his father is the focus of the first part of the novel, and the author uses this relationship to show the change in Henry, from a loving young boy, to the ruthless king he became.

The book is written for teenagers, so while Henry's many marriages are documented, as his is desire for a son, the sex in the story is not described so much as implied.  The novel focuses more on Henry's struggle to be the King he thought he was destined to be, not the relationships he had with his wives. 

There is a family tree in the front of the book, but it ends with Henry and his brothers and sisters.  I would have liked to see another tree, showing Henry, his wives and his children. I think the book will appeal to those who already know Henry VIII, but it will be equally appealing to those reading about him for the first time.

Click on the link below to go to the  VIII website, where you can read an extract and see an interview with the author.


Who will like this book: Boys and Girls (but more appealing to boys) Age 14+
Read it if you like: English history, want something meatier after reading the  UK My Story Series

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