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As Told By Geoffrey Chaucer - An Editorial Review of "The Boy King's Tale"

Book Blurb:

In The Boy King’s Tale, two entwined love stories, young and old, lead to betrayal, murder and the near overthrow of a kingdom in this epic story of son and bride, mother and lover, in the extraordinary true story adventure of the earliest days of one of England’s most revered kings, Edward III. Parts of the story have been glimpsed before, the folly of a king and the beautiful queen who raised an army to defeat him and place her young son on the throne in his place, but here is told of the queen’s plot with her lover to murder her son and his young queen bride, to place their infant prince on the English thrown that they might rule in absolute power. The dark and twisted world of medieval politics, war, glory, love, sex and romance, and the fate of the future are in the balance on one fateful night when rescue or death was held on the turn of a confession to a faceless monk. Told by English court poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, as one of his tales, on the day death bells toll from the steeples of Westminster.

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Author Bio:

Michael January is a writer for film and television as well as a travel writer and photographer. His "Favorite Castles" book series is in its fifth edition with "Favorite Castles of Germany" and "Favorite Castles of Switzerland" as well as England, Wales and the Castles of Ireland. He regularly writes of historical connections and has followed in the literal footsteps the Romantic writers. "The Secret Memoirs of Mary Shelley: Frankenstein Diaries - The Romantics" was his first historical novel. Next followed the WWII adventure and love story of pilots in the Battle of Britain, "Aces". He also appears in the screenwriting documentary and companion book from Harper Collins "Tales From The Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters".

Editorial Review:

Forgive me if I begin my story at the near the end,” he said, hiding his well-intended mischief, “but for better understanding, I will reset the time and place to give full meaning to the events of it. A child or man may only know of his very earliest of years through flashes of disconnected memories, brief images, or haphazard recollection of feelings and sensations with no true recall of the living of them, but a prince royal will hear his life repeated to him over and again in story and song sung as lullaby, with the most intimate details scratched in recorded documents. Those telling the story and repeating the song may serve their own cause in the shaping of it, but it could not be escaped, Edward knew as much of his own life and of his family as any might, and here is what he knew – it was only by violent intervention that his name would be Edward at all.”

For this reviewer, when reading at the outset that this book was a tale told by Geoffrey Chaucer about the early days of Edward III of England, the anticipation grew even from the very first paragraph... nay, the very first line. From the outset, this story never disappointed but held true not only to Chaucer's imagined way of telling stories, but to the history behind the downfall of Edward II, the scheming and plotting of Isabella and Mortimer, and the rise of the boy king, Edward III and his beautiful wife, Phillipa of Hainaut.

The author does a remarkable job of showing the entwining story of two different and vastly different loves – the one between Edward and Phillipa, and the one between Isabella and Mortimer – one of pure ambition and selfishnesss of the aging couple, and the pure, fresh, and vibrant love of the younger couple... all enmeshed in the varying stories of Edward II's fall at the hands of Isabella and Mortimer, the political turmoil as Mortimer acquires more and more power, and then the resulting consequences of a nameless monk hears an astounding confession.

Many fans of this part of English history know part of the story from the Shakespearean play, Edward II, or from the Braveheart movie... that of Edward I (known as Longshanks), and the dalliance Edward II had with his boy favorites, abandoning his wife, Isabella, for them; but many don't know of the continued saga which this story so brilliantly portrays. After Edward II's abandoning the Queen, she helps Roger Mortimer escape from the Tower of London and they raise an army against her husband, the King, planning to murder him and place her teenage son, another Edward, on the throne and rule together as regents.

Chaucer paused for breath, looking over his enthralled listeners. The shades of day were drawing dim now, but the story not yet done. He waited to see if they were all still intent on understanding. “Please, good sir, tell us whose will would be followed,” asked the baker's son. “Who would prevail?” pressed another. Chaucer tousled the hair of a young eager listener. “Do not rush ahead for answer,” he said, “for more darker shadows may arise than may be dispelled.” He continued his tale where he had left, yet spinning away more tedious detail of politic and parliament, with essential matter for understanding.

All goes as Isabella and Mortimer plan, and Edward is deposed, kept in captivity, (and eventually cruelly tortured and killed), The new young king, Edward III, is innocent to all the power-hungry couple has done and the machinations of Mortimer... but as he grows to maturity, and takes a wife, the love of his life, Phillipa, his insight and wisdom grows. He comes to believe that his father was murdered and while he has very little proof, others in the kingdom are bent on bringing down Mortimer as the man's power and arrogance grows to such excess that others are taking notice, especially after Mortimer declares himself the Earl of March and thinks to seduce the young Queen Consort. Yet, when Edward discovers Mortimer's plot to murder him as well, (as the man thinks to place Edward and Phillipa's infant son (who would grown to become Edward, the Black Prince, in history) on the throne and rule in his stead), and as Parliament meets to decide on granting Edward full rights as King without the need for the regency council, all the events come to a head on this fateful night. A fateful night when a boy must become a true ruler of his country, protect his wife and child... and become the man his father never was. Many know the story of Mortimer's capture and downfall, but the way the author tells this tale is quite captivating. This narrative is truly woven together in a tight and seamless tapestry of events, leading the reader through the rise and fall of the waft as the picture is created by one of the most brilliant storyteller narrators of all time – Geoffrey Chaucer. And the author does this without falling to the old English way of the Cantebury Tales but flavors the storyline with clever wording so as to keep true to Chaucer's way of telling a story.

I have had my fill of this Mortimer,” he groaned while loyal lords of the highest rank waited on him. “He presses the Council to name him Earl of The March for the lands he has gained by false accusation against good men. I would be rid of him, but he is as stuck in me as yesterday's lunch.”

The characters are very well-formed and alive on the pages, emoting real human emotions, that of abandonment, pain, fear, and ultimately, love, courage, and strength. This is one book which is a un-put-downable must-read for anyone interested in these early days post-William Wallace / Longshanks, and the fate of Queen Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Very very well done and the author is to be commended for crafting such a remarkable historical novel.

Tomorrow at Parliament, I shall give Mortimer's ambition such a blow, will knock him into history's dust! And my son will have a king for a father!” He swung the wooden stick against the stone parapet so that it snapped with a crack, and flung the pieces from his hand over the wall. It tumbled to mossy walls of foundation below, where the lichens and snails clung to the damp crevices.


“The Boy King's Tale” by Michael January receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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