Saturday 19 January 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The King Must Die by N. Gemini Sasson

RATING:  5 Stars

The King Must Die  is the sequel to N. Gemini Sasson's breakthrough historical novel Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer .  But don't be put off by this, The King Must Die is truly a stand-alone novel that one can thoroughly enjoy without any knowledge of the previous book.  That said, I cannot guarantee that you won't want to go back and read it.  In fact, I have no doubt that you will--the characters and plot are that good!

The King Must Die tells the story of the real-life historical figures, King Edward III of England and his foreign born mother, Queen Isabella.  Seen from the alternating points of view of these two complicated characters, a tale of intrigue, suspense and betrayal gradually unfolds.  Attempting to address the questions surrounding the apparent death of King Edward II, Isabella's ill-fated husband, Sasson takes the reader on an intricate but easy to follow journey through 14th century power plays, mental illness and webs of deceit to get to the bottom of what really happened.  With the pain of execution for treason looming over the culprit, the art of deflection and manipulation is practiced at the highest levels--leading to a blockbuster conclusion.

Set against a backdrop of medieval England, Sasson takes clear pains to maintain historical accuracy.  At the same time, her characters are credible--particularly her portrayal of Edward III as he grows from a malleable boy-king to a powerful leader and a man who wants answers.  Picking up with Queen Isabella, Sasson expertly takes her from extreme to extreme--protective mother, jealous lover, scorned wife--with ease.  The scenes where Isabella begins to question reality and her own sanity are particularly powerful.  Sasson really knows her stuff!

If you like mysteries and historical fiction peppered with action and romance, then The King Must Die  is the book for you!

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