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Escapades of a Misborn "Prince" - an Editorial Review of "The Bastard Prince of Versailles"

Book Blurb:

A historical novel inspired by real events, The Bastard Prince of Versailles, narrates the escapades of a misborn "prince" during the reign of Louis XIV in seventeenth-century France. Louis de Bourbon wasn't a real prince-even though his father was King Louis XIV. The illegitimate son of the King and his mistress, Louise de La Vallière, young Louis has been kept far from the court's eyes until summoned to bid adieu to his mother. To atone for her adultery, she joins a convent, abandoning Louis to an uncertain future. When Louis is humiliated by his father for his role in a secret gay society, he struggles to redeem himself through heroism and self-sacrifice in the king's army on the battlefield.

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Author Bio:

Will Bashor, MBA, Ph.D., earned his B.A. degree in French and a M.A. degree in French literature from Ohio University. He earned his Ph.D. in International Studies from the American Graduate School in Paris. In his spare time, he reads memoirs and researches the lives of royals and their courtiers. He hopes to share his fascination with the Bourbon dynasty and its quirky inhabitants and, at the same time, weave the historical record with creative fiction. Professor at Southern New Hampshire University, where he holds a M.A. in Creative Writing, Will is a member of the Society for French Historical Studies. He has also written for the Huffington Post, BBC History Magazine, CR Fashion Book, and Age of Revolutions. Visit him at

Editorial Review:

The gathering of nobles and courtiers in the marble-tiled courtyard gasped when fifteen-year-old Count Louis of Vermandois collapsed after the final blow of the whip, his body dangling from the ladder’s frame. King Louis XIV, his expression grim, raised his hand to end the spectacle and motioned for his son’s lifeless body to be carried away. Hours later, in a dungeon cell reeking of rat urine and pipe smoke, Count Louis woke up on a cot with vermin-infested straw prickling his bare stomach. Despite the sounds of vicious dogs growling and drunken jailers cursing in the corridors, his mind wandered back to his idyllic youth, trying to understand how he ever ended up in a dank, dark prison cell.

From the very first lines of the prologue, we are transported back to October of 1682. Historical fiction based on true events, Will Bashor's "The Bastard Prince of Versailles," takes readers on an intricate journey into the gilded and shadowed realms of 17th-century France, uncovering the life of Count Louis of Vermandois.

This prince, an illegitimate offspring from the passionate union of King Louis XIV and his mistress, Louise de La Vallière, stands as a testament to the complexities of identity and belonging amidst the luxury and intrigue of the royal court.

From the very beginning, Bashor ensnares readers with a compelling storyline that reveals the court's vibrancy and the internal machinations that come with it. The initial pages of the book act as a siren song, drawing readers into the depths of Louis's world. From the very first line, there's a promise of an engaging tale intertwined with history and emotion.

Madame Colbert ran her fingers through Louis’ hair. In the window’s reflection, he noticed how his hair spilled down his neck like ink on a tilted piece of parchment. The subtle rays of light reflected an indigo blue on his curly locks, contrasting with the moonbeam paleness of his face. He remembered courtiers who’d visited Sceaux and found themselves speechless when searching for words to describe him, often deferring to “pretty” or “lovely.”

“Stop wriggling, Count Louis,” said Madame Colbert. “Remember, you have royal blood running through your veins.”

Still, he thought, Madame Colbert never really treated him any differently than her other three sons. Her youngest, the impetuous Jules-Armand, was only four years older than Louis and, unlike his older brothers, still lived at Sceaux. Jules-Armand often invited Louis to play with him and his friends, but Louis had nothing in common with Jules-Armand. Instead, he preferred playing on his own in his chambers, shying away from the rough-and-tumble diversions in the courtyard. Because Jules-Armand’s bedroom was just across the hallway from his, he could sneak into Louis’ bedroom at night to play games. Or at least Louis thought they were games.

The political dances at the court of the Sun King are as intricately choreographed as any ballet, and Bashor brings them to life with a finesse that showcases his deep knowledge and research into this historical period.

The attention to detail, both in the depiction of the grandeur of Versailles and the emotional landscapes of its inhabitants, speaks to the book's impeccable editing and formatting. Bashor ensures that every page flows seamlessly into the next, with events unfolding at a pace that keeps readers engaged. The formatting aids this smooth experience, making for an unobtrusive reading journey where the story takes center stage.

The life of Count Louis of Vermandois, as portrayed by Bashor, is not just a tale of royal intrigue but an exploration of identity amidst external constraints. Louis's struggle to claim his place, not just within the royal hierarchy but within himself, serves as the backbone of this narrative. The portrayal of his journey, from being the shadowed illegitimate child to the assertive figure, leaves readers riveted.

“Marie-Anne,” he said. “What is it?”

She stopped and put her hands on her hip. “I am taken by the court to be the most foolish of princesses.”

“Please come and sit,” Louis he as he took a seat. When she began to pace again, he snapped, “Marie-Anne!”

She reluctantly took a settee opposite him. “My wedding night was a catastrophe. Louis-Armand knew nothing about the correct behavior of a husband.”

Louis’ face reddened, having never heard his sister speak so informally.

“And it has been rumored that I am enamored with my brother-in-law.”

“François?” said Louis. He looked to the floor as thoughts of his cousin at the secret order ran through his mind.

“And now, rumors are flying about the palace that my husband takes refuge in the debauchery of the court with courtesans, causing scandal after scandal. He surrounds himself with the most fashionable women and even…”

Louis looked at her with a squint.

“Never mind,” she said. “I just fear that ugly disease.”

Still squinting, he said, “Ugly disease?”

She rolled her eyes. “No matter.”

Perhaps one of the standout aspects of the book is the evolution of its characters. Louis’s transformation is heart-wrenching and heartwarming in equal measures. Other characters, from Marcel to the King himself, are fleshed out with depth, showcasing their own challenges, motivations, and intricacies.

Bashor masterfully maintains a consistent flow throughout the narrative. Each event logically progresses from the previous, and there are no jarring breaks in the storyline.

While many historical novels explore royal courts and politics, what sets this book apart is its nuanced portrayal of LGBTQ+ themes within the context of 17th-century France. Louis's association with a secret gay society not only adds layers to his character but also offers a fresh perspective on the societal norms of that era. This was really refreshing for me to read.

The book's narrative arc is a balanced blend of external events and internal evolutions. The peaks and troughs align perfectly with Louis's own personal milestones, making his journey not just a series of events but a cohesive, emotional narrative.

"The Bastard Prince of Versailles" is more than a historical novel; it's a literary tapestry woven with skill, passion, and insight. Will Bashor not only offers a window into the past but also presents a mirror reflecting timeless human struggles and aspirations. A true masterpiece that stands tall on all fronts, from storyline to craft. Highly recommended for those seeking depth, authenticity, and emotional resonance in their reads.


"The Bastard Prince of Versailles" by Will Bashor receives five stars and the "Highly Recommended" award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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