Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Source: Personal collection

Synopsis: We first fine Jane Eyre as a ten year old little girl living with her wicked aunt Mrs. Reed and her three snotty nosed little children: Georgiana, Eliza, and John. Sadly, the Reed family is the only family that Jane has left in the world. Her parents were killed and her uncle Reed took her in as an infant despite Mrs. Reed’s protests. On her uncle’s death bed he begs his wife to promise to look after Jane and treat her as if she was one of her own. Unfortunately, Mrs. Reed was not able to live up to her dying husbands wishes. Jane is told repeatedly that she is an evil, spiteful little girl who is going to hell and is brutally punished by Mrs. Reed daily. 

One day Mrs. Reed decides she has had enough and can no longer look after Jane. So she sends her off to the Lowood boarding school for girls. The environment at the Lowood school is very strange to Jane and she has a bit of a rough time with it at first until she meets a compassionate teacher and a kind friend who both look after her and show her the first kindness she has ever felt. We are soon transported eight years later and Jane is now an eighteen year old girl working as a teacher at the Lowood school. She soon realizes that she can’t stay there forever and needs to move on in her life. 

So she puts an ad in the local paper advertising for a position as a governess. She only receives one reply from a Mrs. Fairfax of Thornfield Hall. Jane is unaware at how much Thornfield Hall will change her life forever. For one thing she doesn’t know that Mrs. Fairfax is merely the housekeeper and that the real owner is Mr. Edward Rochester; a wealthy bachelor who takes an interest in Jane’s simplicity and unique aspect of life. We soon discover that Mr. Rochester has a dark side and seems to be keeping many secrets. Jane is the only one who can go toe to toe with Mr. Rochester and she seems to be the only one who understands him.

Review: I must admit I was a bit of a skeptic. I didn’t know whether I would like Jane Eyre, let alone be able to finish the almost 700 page novel. I tend to find classic literature to be a bit dry and I’m sorry to say a major snooze fest with the exception of Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice, which is one of my favorite books of all time and my second favorite movie, which follows Elizabeth the Golden Age. However, I must be acquiring a taste for the classics because I was in complete awe of Jane Eyre! I loved, loved, loved it!

The reason I buckled down and read this book is because I saw the movie trailer for Jane Eyre and I knew I had to see it, but I couldn’t watch the movie until I read the book because that is just how I am. At first I found the book a bit difficult to read due to the old English style of writing but I found it got easier once I picked up the dictionary and looked up some of the words I was having difficulty comprehending. I think what I loved most about this book was the mystery behind it! I wanted to know what Mr. Rochester’s secret was. I went back and forth from one idea to another, which kept me interested. I have to share with you my two favorite quotes in this book:

1. "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you." 

2. "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will."
- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
I highly recommend Jane Eyre! It’s full of mystery, tragedy, love and vulnerability. At times I couldn’t put it down. I just hope in reading the book I didn’t spoil the movie because I tend to find that movies don’t usually live up to the book.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Borgias Series on Showtimes: It's Finally Almost Here!

Finally, after what has seemed like endless wait and longing The Borgias Series on Showtimes is finally almost here! 


Over a decade in the making, The Showtime Original Series The Borgias is the sordid saga of one of the most remarkable and legendary families in history. Set in 15th century Italy at the height of the Renaissance, The Borgias chronicles the corrupt rise of patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (Academy Award® winner Jeremy Irons) to the papacy, where he proceeds to commit every sin in the book to amass and retain power, influence and enormous wealth for himself and his family. The unbounded audacity of this original crime family went on to inspire Machiavelli's The Prince and Mario Puzo's The Godfather. Don't miss a minute of the lavish, sexy, scandalous drama from the creative mind of Academy Award® winner Neil Jordan.

Who are the Borgias?

Outsiders from Spain, the Borgias go up against the most powerful and established families in Renaissance Italy and come out on top. Through the masterful use of bribery, extortion, blackmail, and shocking forms of torture and murder, Rodrigo Borgia rises to the position of pope, the most venerated in the Western World. Aiding him in his endeavors are his sons Cesare, a ruthless operator who yearns fruitlessly to be released from the priesthood, and Juan, a feckless dilettante whom Rodrigo appoints to head the papal armies. Daughter Lucrezia and son Joffre are married off in early adolescence to members of powerful rival families – pawns in their family's fortunes. Waging their own heated contest for Rodrigo's affections are Vanozza, his long-time mistress and mother of his children, and the younger Giulia Farnese, whose cunning is matched only by her astonishing beauty.

Who Are the Main Characters?

Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons)

The head of the Borgia clan is an interesting dichotomy of a man. Both ruthlessly ambitious and utterly devoted to his family, he uses his position in the Catholic church to acquire power, influence and wealth. He is incredibly shrewd and manages to outmaneuver his rivals at every turn. But he also enjoys the carnal pleasures of life, particularly the company of beautiful women, and this leaves him open to his enemies.

Cesare Borgia  (François Arnaud)Forced into the priesthood against his will by his father, Cesare is in reality violent, dashing and cavalier. He serves as his father's Consigliore and carries out the most heinous crimes to advance the family's cause. While devoted to his sister and mother, he is locked in a bitter rivalry with his brother Juan, whom he believes to be his father's favorite.

Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Grainger)

A beautiful young girl who is also wise beyond her years, Lucrezia is the apple of her father's eye. However, this does not prevent him from marrying her off at the earliest opportunity to Giovanni Sforza, a loutish brute whose family rules the powerful city-state of Milan.

Where Does the Series Start?

On the eve of the death of Pope Innocent VIII in 1492, a fierce political battle rages inside the Vatican walls over who will become the next pope. The papacy has long been the exclusive domain of a handful of super-powerful and ancient Italian families, so outsider Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia seems like a long shot. But the staid, pious Italians vastly underestimate the ambitions of the wily, rapacious Spaniard. Once ensconced on the throne, Rodrigo uses all of his power and influence to turn the papacy into a dynastic possession for his children, while his rivals plot with all their political might to unseat him.
Watch the trailer to catch a preview of the series, or catch up on all the storylines with episode summaries and show scenes.

When Can I Watch The Show?

The Borgias begins with a special two-hour premiere on SHOWTIME Sunday, April 3rd at 9:00 PM ET/PT. Future original episodes will air Sundays at 10:00 PM ET/PT. Encores will be broadcast throughout the week and available on Showtime Anytime™. Order Showtime now and get $25 cash back!*
Attention no copy right infringement intended all credit of this information goes to Showtimes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Guest post: Tony Hays' Journey in Discovering What May Have Been the True Camelot

I'm so excited to have Tony Hays on All Things Historical Fiction. He is the author of an Arthurian series and is here today to discuss how he was able to capture Camelot as it may have looked for his newest book, The Beloved Dead. Stay tuned next month for my review of his first novel in his Arthurian series, The Killing Way. So lets get to the guest post!

 Tony Hays author of The Beloved Dead
Tony's Journey in Discovering What May Have Been the True Camelot
Sometimes, you paint yourself into a corner that is really, really difficult to deal with.   But I had no real choice.  I had boxed myself in to a 16 mile hike across southwest England, from South Cadbury to Glastonbury, as the crow flies as much as possible.

I had driven the route many times, knew it by heart.  Plus, I had hoofed up and down and all over South Cadbury Hillfort and Glastonbury, the primary settings for my new Arthurian mystery series, starting with The Killing Way and followed by The Divine Sacrifice.  

But my earlier research trips had been relatively short, a week or two at the most.  This time, I had moved to England for six months, leasing an efficiency flat in the little village of Butleigh, about five miles to the south by southeast of Glastonbury.  So, time was not a real consideration as it had been before.  And I wanted The Beloved Dead, the third in my Arthurian series, to be the biggest and best yet, in every way.  For me, that meant walking the ground as my characters had, smelling the smells and climbing the hills.
Arthur & Guinevere Sign

While archaeologists and historians are split on whether Arthur was real or not, they are unanimous in saying that the hillfort at South Cadbury underwent a massive renovation and rebuilding project at just the time that Arthur would have lived by someone who had Arthurian-sized resources at his command.   And as early as 1541, local folklore had made this hill Arthur’s headquarters.   It was a natural for my mid 5th century world of mud, wooden huts, foul smells and raiding Saxons.


Glastonbury was a given.  The earliest traditions made the “Mother Church” at Glastonbury Abbey perhaps the earliest Christian site in England.  The alleged 1191 exhumation of Arthur and Guinevere by the monks at Glastonbury just put the proverbial icing on the cake, not to mention the assertion that on the infamous lead cross buried with our lovers was a claim that Guinevere was Arthur’s second wife.  Then there was that pesky early story of a king of the “Summer Country” named Melwas, who kidnapped Guinevere.  No, drive-by research wasn’t going to cut it this time around.  So much of the novel’s action took place between South Cadbury and Glastonbury that I was going to have to apply shoe-leather to pavement, so to speak.

Across the Levels from Copley Wood 

So, one fine July day, I put on my special Dark Ages shoes (a pair of high top sneakers that really have little sole to them so it’s like walking in a moccasin or having your feet wrapped in leather), strung  my pouch from my shoulder and started out from the hillfort, headed to the abbey.  My goals were twofold – find out how long it would take to walk from South Cadbury to the abbey, and get a sense of what that journey would entail in physical exertion etc.

Copley Wood

From the summit of the hillfort, Glastonbury Tor can be seen in the distance, across the southern reaches of the Somerset Levels, rising like a pointing finger into the sky.  Up there the route looks fairly straightforward,  but in reality the path is a little more circuitous than it would appear.  The British love their walking paths, and I stuck to those as much as possible.   Headed in a generally northwest direction, I had certain places I wanted to include – Copley Wood, Compton-Dundon Hillfort, the Polden Ridge.

So, I started along the Leland Trail, a series of footpaths associated with the great tour of John Leland,  Henry VIII’s antiquary.  That took me generally along the A303, to West Camel.  From there, I turned north and took Steart Lane up to Charlton Mackrell and Charlton Adam.  This much of the journey was fairly uneventful.  I had kept a brisk pace, as I suspected that people in my time period would do.

 Compton Dundon Hillfort

But then came the fun.  I switched onto a road that eventually became known as Reynald’s Way, that ran up and along the Polden Ridge, and across a bank and ditch known as the New Ditch that may date to the Iron Age, but also was probably in use in the Dark Ages as well.  What you have to understand about the Levels is that back in the Dark Ages, a good hard rain could flood the levels so that Glastonbury, Compton-Dundon Fort, and the Polden Ridge were almost  islands that rose above the flood waters.   And the Polden Ridge would have been if not the safest, at the least the driest route to Glastonbury.   I’ve often believed that New Ditch had a defensive purpose in the days of Arthur.  

By the time that I had reached the spine of the ridge, I was out of breath and wondering why I demanded so much accuracy of myself.  I mean really; could anyone in the 21st century actually learn anything about life in the 5th century by hiking 16 miles?  My pounding heart said no, echoed by my blistering feet.  They were, if anything, a hardier people.  But then I turned down into Copley Wood, to catch a glimpse of the Compton-Dundon Hillfort.  And suddenly, I was back in the 5th century, hiking along forest trails with my protagonist, Malgwyn.

It took little effort to imagine what travel would have been like back in those days.  Other than the Fosse Way, the closest Roman road, travellers would have been forced onto dirt lanes like these.   Narrow, dark, barely wide enough for a single wagon and ox.   I twisted my ankle twice picking my way down trail.  I breathed deeply of the air.

As I emerged from the tree line, I saw the hillfort, smaller than Cadbury Castle, but impressive nonetheless.  I felt stronger then, and I determined to complete my quest by hiking down through the village and up onto the hillfort plateau.  I had a special reason for wanting to see that fort, but that is a surprise that you’ll have to read The Beloved Dead to discover.  Let’s just say that I found it the perfect setting for what I had in mind.

The sun had travelled well past meridian height by the time that I made it back up to Reynald’s Way.   I picked up the pace, pausing only long enough to note the location of New Ditch.  Yes, it would have been an excellent place for a defensive barrier.  The land dropped off on either side, making this an effective bottle neck.

Continuing on down the road as it began to slope down towards the B3151 heading into what is now Street, England, but back then was probably just forest, perhaps a farmstead or two.   I stopped before I reached Pomparles Bridge, that place where Bedevere launched the mortally wounded Arthur off in a boat for the Isle of Avalon.   Turning left, I followed a side street until I found the parish church, a place believed so anciently divine that it once held a Roman shrine before a small chapel, known as Lantokay or Kay’s Chapel, was built from its ruins.

I timed how long it took me to get there and back to the main road, and how long it took me to make it to Pomparles.  Breathing, feet, all were forgotten by then.  

 Glastonbury Tor from Cadbury Castle

I was there.  Where my book would happen.   And, whether because of exhaustion or a too active imagination, I was when it was as well.  The cars were gone.  The houses too.  I could see how Glastonbury and its famous Tor would look like an island when the waters were high.  I could see the fortress of the Dark Ages lord thought to have been atop the Tor.  And as I tramped across the bridge, I was walking on wood and stone and then along a muddy trackway at the foot of Wearyall Hill.  Then , I was in the Abbey grounds, looking at where the “Mother Church” had stood.    Night was about to fall, and in the darkness I thought I could see the lamps in the monks’ huts, their dark, robed, huddled forms scurrying about the ground.
I could write the book then.   I had been there.  I had seen it.
 Storm Clouds Over Camelot

To celebrate, I took a taxi back to my flat in Butleigh.  The journey was finished, but the magic was still in my head.  I dove into the book in earnest, and wrote as quickly and as well as I ever have.  All because of a single research trip.  

And several blisters.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review + Giveaway: To Be Queen by Christy English

To Be Queen by Christy English

Book Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Release Date: April 5th 2011

Setting: France 1132 – 1152

Book Synopsis: Taught by her father, the Duke of Aquitaine, how to be powerful in the midst of the ruthless politics of the court, Eleanor learned at an early age to inspire love and royalty in the people around her. Those lessons serve the fifteen-year old well when after her father’s sudden death she is crowned Duchess of Aquitaine and becomes the most eligible, sought –after woman in France.

Enamored of the young and beautiful Eleanor, King Louis VII claims her as his own, but the newly crowned monarch is easily manipulated by the Church and therefore bound to a way of life Eleanor does not believe in. Trapped in a loveless marriage and met with opposition at every turn, Eleanor fights to dissolve her estranged union with Louis and return to Aquitaine.

But Eleanor is soon charmed by the English upstart Henry of Normandy. If she can find the strength to leave her homeland behind, she may finally win the passion she has longed for and the means to fulfill her legacy as queen.

My Review: As some of you may already know Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my favorite historical women of all time. In her second historical novel based on the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Christy creates a story where she brings the character of Eleanor to life. This story is told in Eleanor’s point of view where it begins when she is a fifteen-year old girl in her father’s court of love in the Aquitaine Duchy. We get to see Eleanor grow into a strikingly beautiful and strong willed woman, who later inherits her father’s lands after his sudden death while away on crusade. She later becomes Queen of France and becomes trapped in a loveless marriage to the overly pious King Louis VII. However, Eleanor sees her way out once she’s enamored by Henry of Normandy who is all man, so unlike Louis in every way!

I really enjoyed To Be Queen and I thought Christy English did an amazing job with telling Eleanor’s story during her earlier years as the Duchess of Aquitaine and Queen of France. However, I must be truthful by admitting I liked The Queen’s Pawn a lot more. I think this is because I find her marriage to Henry of Normandy who later becomes King of England so much more fascinating than her earlier years while she is still married to Louis VII. I don’t know what it is but I find Louis VII a true bore who couldn’t live up to both his manly duties as well as his duty as King of France. I commend Eleanor for high tailing it out of Louis’ court once she finally had the chance.

Please don’t let my preference for Eleanor’s later life as Queen of England to her younger years as Queen of France to sway you from picking up this book. It’s definitely worth the read especially if you’re not very familiar with Eleanor of Aquitaine. This in no way changes my opinion about Christy English as an author! I LOVED The Queen’s Pawn and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!

Christy has so grasciously offered up 1 signed copy of To Be Queen to a lucky winner! This giveaway is only open to US residents & it ends April 6th. Here are the guidelines:

-You must me a follower of this blog through GFC follower.
-Leave your name and email address so I can contact you. If no email address is provided then you will not be entered into the giveaway.

-+1 entry if you're a new follower. Just tell me below in the comments that you are a new follower.

-+2 entries if you tweet, blog or facebook this giveaway. Please leave a link or else it wont count.

If you would to learn more about Eleanor of Aquitaine please click her to read an amazing post by Christy English where she discusses "Who is Eleanor of Aquitaine?"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post: Christy English discusses Who Is Eleanor of Aquitaine?

I am so honored and excited to bring an amazing guest post by Christy English, who is the author of The Queens Pawn and To Be Queen. She has so grasciously volunteered her time to be with us to today in order to discuss one of my favorite historical women of all time: Eleanor of Aquitaine! Make sure you stop by on Wednesday 23 to read my review of To Be Queen and also a chance to win a copy!

Who Is Eleanor of Aquitaine?
                      Guest Post by Christy English
To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Who is Eleanor of Aquitaine? Though this medieval queen has dominated my life over the last five years as I have written both THE QUEEN’S PAWN and TO BE QUEEN, I have discovered when talking to people less obsessed with medieval history, that some do not know who she is. I have had a few people say, “Oh, Elizabeth I? The Armada Queen?” and others ask, “Oh, you mean Eleanor Roosevelt?” So since we can not assume that Eleanor of Aquitaine is the by-word for everyone that she is in my own life, I would like to talk a little about her here.

We do not know what day Eleanor of Aquitaine was born. Historians are not even certain of the year. I believe however that Eleanor, Alienor in her native tongue, the langue d’oc, was born in the year 1122. Her father was William X, Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony, Count of Poitou. The Duchy of Aquitaine and all its adjacent lands stretched from the border of the Duchy of Burgundy in Eastern France to the Atlantic Ocean. The cities of Limoges, Poitiers, and Bordeaux were all under Eleanor’s father’s protection. And when Eleanor’s older brother died from a fever in 1130, Eleanor became Duke William’s undisputed heir.

When her father died, Eleanor was fifteen years old. She became duchess upon his death, and finished brokering her marriage to Louis VII of France herself, with the help of her faithful churchman, the Bishop of Limoges. Louis and Eleanor married in July 1137, and were married for fifteen years, producing only two living daughters. Eleanor of course was blamed for this, because at the time, the lack of a son was always the woman’s fault.
Eleanor did not let this deter her. She ruled France jointly with her husband, and rode on the Second Crusade with him in 1147. They returned to France in 1148, and after the birth of their second child, Eleanor knew with certainty that she wanted out of her marriage to the King of France.

King Louis VII of France
Eleanor’s First Husband

After years, she was able to arrange the annulment with Rome, and with the support of her husband, Eleanor was set free in the spring of 1152. Of course, she had a second husband waiting in the wings. Henry, the young Duke of Normandy.

King Henry II of England
Eleanor’s Second Husband

Henry of Normandy and Eleanor of Aquitaine married in May of 1152, and within two years Eleanor had given birth to one son and was pregnant with a second, all the time ruling as regent in Anjou and Normandy while Henry fought to regain the Kingdom of England. Henry succeeded in reclaiming his birthright which had been usurped by Stephen of Blois, and on December 19, 1154, Henry and Eleanor were crowned King and Queen of England.

King Richard the Lionhearted
Eleanor’s Favorite Son

Eleanor and Henry went on to have eight living children, three of whom, Henry the Younger, Richard the Lionhearted, and Prince John, all became Kings of England. Eleanor watched three of her sons crowned, and lived to the age of 82. For the last few years of her life, Eleanor retired to the nunnery she had founded at the Abbey of Fontevrault, where she died on April 1, 1204.

Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Tomb
Fontevrault Abbey

Taylor, thank you so much for hosting me today. TO BE QUEEN: A NOVEL OF THE EARLY LIFE OF ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE is available for pre-order and will be in bookstores on April 5.

For those who want to know more about my adventures, readers can find me on my blog at and on Twitter at

Friday, March 18, 2011

Giveaway winner!

The Giveaway winner of Diane Haeger's newest novel The Queen's Rival was chosen by

So the lucky winner of The Queen's Rival goes to....

Allison Macias!

If you didn't win this time don't despair because I have some amazing giveaways coming up within the next week! I also have The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean up for grabs it's open internationally until March 20th! The link to that giveaway is posted on the sidebar on the right side.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Post W/ Donna Russo Morin: Discusses the Remorse & Redemption of King Francois I


I am so pleased to welcome Donna Russo Morin author of To Serve a King, to All Things Historical Fiction. She is here to discuss the remorse and redemption of King Francois I of France. Be on the look out for my review of To Serve A King in the next couple of weeks along with the chance to win a copy!


The Remorse and Redemption of a King and his Court

François I reigned in France during the same era in which Henry VIII ruled England. When I found him in my research for a previous novel, I was struck by what he and I had in common: in the realm of historical fiction, the Tudor stories tend to be a bit more popular than those set in other European countries, like mine. And while François was not only more powerful and contributed more to the world, he has always taken a back seat to Henry in terms of the history of the period. These two kings, along with Charles V of Spain, were constantly trying to outdo and overthrow the other. In that, I found the context for my story.

For a king who was rarely portrayed in historical fiction, and then only as a supporting character, I found great depth in this ruler often referred to as the Renaissance Warrior. His mother, Louise de Savoy, fought the courts to raise François, his sister, and the children of her recently deceased husband’s mistress. She emerged victorious, and with a loving and disciplined hand, raised them all as her own. François was surrounded by women for most of his childhood and adolescence, and his empathy for the feminine sensibility would color the rest of his life. These women, especially his mother and sister, were intelligent, educated, and sophisticated; they exposed him to the very best in art, literature and music that the late Renaissance had to offer and he would later dedicate his life to the artistic enrichment of his country. Few other rulers can compare in leaving a more notable and lasting cultural legacy than François I. By establishing the Lecteurs Royaux in 1530, François laid the foundation for the Collège de France. His compilation of books evolved into the Bibliotheque Nationale. And, most noteworthy of all, his trove of art became the nucleus of the world famous collection now held at the Louvre.

When writing François I, I was not unmindful or blind to his brutish youth, however I was deeply aware of the personal hardships he had encountered—the loss of spouse, the loss of beloved children, the slow torture of watching his own power diminish as he aged. In the major biographies read during my research, I found a great dichotomy between his early years and those in his latter days. I was struck by the notion, and the hope, that we have the ability to become truly conscious beings and in the clarity of vision such consciousness affords, we can look back and see the road behind us with all its potholes and wrong turns. It is distasteful to have regrets—the acidity sticks in the craw and repeats offensively—but if conscious of their power as tools, the enlightened can use them to find remorse, and it is in remorse that we are redeemed. Thus was how I found François; it is how I wrote him. I can say with certainty there was a wish in such a rendering.

In this book, as in my first two books (The Courtier’s Secret 2/2009 and The Secret of the Glass 3/2010), there is always a subliminal theme which mirrors events or emotions taking place in my own life. To Serve a King is no different. I was going through one of the most challenging phases of my life while I was writing this book, so challenging in fact, I wasn’t sure I would get it written. And as happens for many people in such circumstances, overcoming the emotions of such challenges—anger and hate—is the true test. And so it is for my main character, Geneviève Gravois. To Serve a King is a story of intrigue, murder, passion and betrayal. But at its heart, it is a story of redemption.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Theories Revealed of King Tut's Death

The Death of King Tut

As I mentioned in my previous review of The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson and Martin Dugard, we will never know what really killed King Tutankhamen (King Tut). However, we do have enough circumstantial evidence to come up with several possible theories, which may give us a better idea of what led to King Tut’s demise. This is what I’m going to discuss here today, but I would like to start off by briefly discussing his life as pharaoh of Egypt to give you a better idea of who he was and where he came from.

History of the Boy King Tutankhamen

Tutankhamen was the son of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten, who was responsible for desecrating the Egyptian religion by removing the sun god Amun and replacing it with Aten, which means the sun. The Egyptians hated him for it because they were no longer allowed to worship Amun but instead were forced to worship Aten, which meant nothing to them. Akhenaten married the beautiful yet ambitious Nefertiti, who later went on to become pharaoh herself once Akhenaten died. Nefertiti was unable to provide a male heir to the throne; however she did give birth to many daughters. 

Akhenaten had a second wife named Kiya who was successful in producing a son, Tutankhamen. However, Tutankhamen was viewed as being only half a god since he was the son of Kiya and not Nefertiti. Sadly, Kiya died while giving birth to Tut and Nefertiti decided to raise Tut as if he was her own son. Once Akhenaten died, Nefertiti knew Tut’s position as pharaoh would not be secure so she devised a plan to have Tut marry his half sister and lifelong companion, Ankhesenamon. Tut was only 9 years old when he married his 13 year old half sister. 

King Tut was beloved by his people for restoring the Amun Priesthood, although, he was not loved by all his people. Both his vizier Aye and his general Horemheb were jealous and it is believed they both plotted against the young boy king. Tut only reigned for about 10 years until he died around 1325 B.C. at the age of 19, leaving behind a mystery of his death.

Theories of King Tut’s Death

The death of King Tut has baffled the minds of many world renowned and well respected scientists and Egyptologists. One of the reasons why it is hard to pin point the actual cause of death is due to the unfortunate fact that Carter’s team dismantled the corpse while looking for precious amulets and jewelry. Also, one member of Carter’s team decided to cut Tut out of his sarcophagus since he was stuck to it like glue due to the embalming practices. 

One theory, which to me sounds most reasonable, is that Tut died from gangrene as a result of a broken bone. Scientists ran a CT scan of Tut’s mummified body and found a severe fracture in his lower left femur, which appeared to be different than the breaks caused by Carter’s team because it had ragged rather than sharp edges and there appeared to be two layers of embalming material present inside the fracture. This means the break occurred before Tut died maybe from him falling during a chariot accident.

Then another part of the team believes that this can’t be possible. They state that if the fracture had occurred while he was alive then there would have been evidence of a hemorrhage or hematoma present in the CT scan. To back up this argument they believe that the embalming liquid must have been pushed into the fracture by Carter’s team, which to me seems highly unlikely. 

Another theory and probably the most controversial theory is that Tut was murdered. Many believe this to be the cause of death because a fracture to the back of the skull was revealed in an X-ray of his mummy. A trauma specialist at Long Island University believes that this could not have been caused by an accident. However, another team of specialists agrees that there is “NO evidence for murder present in the skull of Tutankhamun. There is NO area on the back of the skull that indicates a partially healed blow. There are two bone fragments loose in the skull. These cannot possibly have been from an injury from before death, as they would have become stuck in the embalming material. The scientific team has matched these pieces to the fractured cervical vertebra and foramen magnum, and believes these were broken either during the embalming process or by Carter’s team". 

According to Dr. Hawass “it has long been suggested that King Tutankhamen may have been poisoned, so in fact, if we are not certain as to how he died, then murder cannot yet be ruled out.”
I have also heard other theories that King Tut died of malaria and that at the time of his death he was not in good health. He had a severely impacted molar that caused him a great deal of pain and there’s evidence that suggests he may have had a cleft lip and a clubbed foot. So as you can see there are many different theories as to how King Tut died and no one knows for sure how he really died. I think people want to believe he was murdered because it makes for a better story and it’s more interesting than dying of gangrene, but it's definitely a possibility. I have provided you with all the facts and so now I will leave it to you to decide and contemplate how Tut died. 

Here are some pictures of the treasures found in his tomb. 

I'm very interested in hearing what you think may of killed King Tut and also some of your opinions and thoughts on this topic. Please comment because I'm very curious as to what others think.

Here is an AMAZING video done by National Geographic called King Tut's Final Secrets. It discusses all the theories as to how he may have died while also discussing “The Curse of King Tut” which explains the random deaths and weird occurrences to those who were present at the excavation of his tomb.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson & Martin Dugard


Book Source: Personal collection
Release Date:  2009

Book Synopsis:
Master of suspense James Patterson reopens the ultimate cold case—the unsolved death of King Tut. 

A secret buried for centuries
Thrust onto Egypt's most powerful throne at the age of nine, King Tut was challenged from the first days of his reign. The veil of prosperity could not hide the bitter rivalries and jealousy that flourished among the Boy King's most trusted advisers. Less than a decade after his elevatation, King Tut suddenly perished, and in the years and centuries that followed, his name was purged from Egyptian history. To this day, his death remains shrouded in controversy.

The keys to an unsolved mystery
Intrigued by what little was known about Tut, and hoping to unlock the answers to the 3,000-year-old mystery, Howard Carter made it his life's mission to uncover the pharaoh's hidden tomb. He began his search
in 1907 but encountered countless setbacks and dead ends before he finally discovered the long-lost crypt.

The clues point to murder
Now, in The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson and Martin Dugard dig through stacks of evidence—X-rays, Carter's files, forensic clues, and stories told through the ages—to arrive at their own account of King Tut's life and death. The result is an exhilarating, true crime tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal that casts fresh light on the oldest mystery of all.

Review: Egyptology has always fascinated me and it is one of my biggest passions in life, which is why I snatched this book up in a heartbeat! King Tutankhamen (King Tut) is the most fascinating Pharaoh in my opinion because he has mystified us all.

Patterson wrote this as a three part story. It is told in present day by Patterson himself where he describes his journey in trying to learn and write about Tut as the boy king. The second story line takes place in the early 1900’s and is told by the Egyptologist, Howard Carter, and his amazing discovery in 1922 of King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, which took him nearly thirty years to find. The last and most interesting story in my opinion takes place in 1335 B.C. and is based on King Tut’s story as a young boy king who married his half sister Ankhesenpaaten in order to secure his right as pharaoh once his stepmother, Nefertiti, died.

This has been the most difficult review for me to write without completely giving away the entire story and also because I came across some flaws in Patterson’s research. With being an Egyptian history fanatic, I was already very familiar with Tut’s story and the multiple theories of his death. I can’t reveal what I know without completely spoiling this book, which is why I stated before how this was such a difficult review for me to write. 

Opinion: Overall, I found this book to be very interesting and easy to read. I thought overall this book to be well researched and thought out. I loved the pictures that Patterson incorporated into the book in order to paint a better picture for the reader of what Carter saw when entering Tut’s tomb. I did not know about Howard Carter’s story and his discovery of King Tut’s tomb and how many setbacks he had to face such as getting the funds to excavate, fending off tomb robbers, and fighting the Egyptian government for the rights to dig. 

I would have given this book a 5 star rating if Patterson would have mentioned the multiple theories of Tut’s death. With this being a nonfiction book I would have liked for Patterson to have listed references in order to back up both his and Dugard’s theory. I will allow you to find out for yourself what Patterson and Dugard came up with for their final conclusion of Tut’s demise and why. I would really like to sit down and talk to both Patterson and Dugard and ask them to explain their reasoning but that’s completely wishful thinking on my part. Overall, this was a great book especially for it being nonfiction. I definitely would recommend this book to those who would like to learn about tomb excavation and King Tut’s story, but I would suggest once finishing the book to do a little research on the multiple theories of Tut’s death so you will know the multiple sides of the story. 

Before I end this review, I would like to make one last statement. Egyptian history will always remain a little murky. We will never know the TRUE cause of death of King Tut because we simply do not have all the facts. Right now I have Egyptian history on my brain so I hope to sometime in the next day or so discuss more about King Tutankhamen and I hope you all will enjoy it and find it as intriguing and spell bounding as I do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean

The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean

Source: I received a copy from the publicist in exchange for a fair and honest review
Release Date: December 2010
Setting: London 1911

Book Synopsis: Edward VIII became notorious for abandoning the throne for Mrs. Simpson, but in the summer of 1911 he was a prince straight from the pages of a fairy-tale. Raised by the harsh disciplinarian King George V and his unfeeling Queen Mary, the prince longed for the warmth that had been deprived of him.

The high society Houghton girls' lives however, were full of fun, both at their magnificent family seat Snowberry, and at the whirlwind of glamorous parties which punctuated their lives. When a moment of serendipity brings Edward and Lily Houghton together, the pressures of a stuffy court are replaced with the lightness that Edward has dreamt of.

But a future monarch could not choose his own Queen, and even an enduring love might falter under the furious gaze of a King. Could the devotion of Edward and Lily triumph against him and the impending doom of World War I? Or would they bow to the inevitable and set in train events that could bring down the Crown, and change the course of history forever? 

My Review: Rebecca Dean is a pen-name of best-selling novelist Margaret Pemberton. She is the author of A Dangerous Desire and countless other novels under her real name Margaret Pemberton. This is the first novel I have read by Rebecca Dean/ Margaret Pemberton and I can easily say I hope it won’t be my last! 

The Golden Prince is a story about Prince Edward “David,” who did not have a normal childhood. He was the royal Prince of Wales who never had a moment to himself. Every second of everyday was planned out for him and he was never allowed to make friends outside of his royal family. His father, King George V, was so hard on him to where David grew to fear him. David had no desire to succeed his father as King of England. His heart’s true desire was to just be normal and have a life as far away from the royal court as possible. 

But once Lilly Houghton comes into his life, David realizes that with her by his side encouraging him, he could be a far better king than his traditionalist father, King George V.  However, once David confronts his father about wanting to marry someone that wasn’t royal, King George nearly comes unglued and finds every possible way to keep David from Lilly by sending him off to intern on a naval battleship, France, and then off to Oxford for three years. Will King George V abandoned his traditional values by giving in to his son’s one true desire or will David have to choose between Lilly the love of his life or his birthright as the heir to the greatest kingdom in Europe?

Opinion: I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I originally thought I would. I agreed to review The Golden Prince because of the upcoming royal wedding and also because of The King’s Speech. 20th century European history is completely foreign to me since my historical interests lie between the 16th and 19th centuries. I found this book to be very intriguing and romantic. Prince Edward and Lilly’s romance really pulled at my heart strings, because I know what it’s like to be in love with someone who has been deemed forbidden by your family. I highly recommend this one!

For a chance to read The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean click here to enter my current giveaway! This giveaway is open worldwide to followers of this blog. It ends March 20th.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

International Giveaway: The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean

‘If you like Philippa Gregory you’ll love this!’ Nora Roberts

Edward VIII became notorious for abandoning the throne for Mrs Simpson, but in the summer of 1911 he was a prince straight from the pages of a fairy-tale. Raised by the harsh disciplinarian King George V and his unfeeling Queen Mary, the prince longed for the warmth that had been deprived of him. The high society Houghton girls' lives however, were full of fun, both at their magnificent family seat Snowberry, and at the whirlwind of glamorous parties which punctuated their lives. When a moment of serendipity brings Edward and Lily Houghton together, the pressures of a stuffy court are replaced with the lightness that Edward has dreamt of. But a future monarch could not choose his own Queen, and even an enduring love might falter under the furious gaze of a King. Could the devotion of Edward and Lily triumph against him and the impending doom of World War I? Or would they bow to the inevitable and set in train events that could bring down the Crown, and change the course of history forever?

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL! It ends March 20th. Here are the giveaway guidelines:
  1. You must me a follower of this blog through GFC follower.
  2. Leave your name and email address so I can contact you. If no email address is provided then you will not be entered into the giveaway.
  3. +1 entry if you're a new follower. Just tell me below in the comments that you are a new follower.
  4. +2 entries if you tweet, blog or facebook this giveaway. Please leave a link or else it wont count.
Good luck everyone!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Guest Post w/ Diane Haeger: Is the Subject of Tudor England Being Over-Done?

In light of Diane Haeger's new book The Queen's Rival: In the Court of Henry VIII, Diane is here to discuss whether or not the subject of Tudor England is being over-done. In just finishing Diane's newest novel I found it beautifully written, very difficult to put down and a definite must read!

Is the subject of Tudor England being over-done? 
As the author of the just-released third in a series, In the Court of Henry VIII, The Queen’s Rival, and as I am currently writing a fourth, I frequently ask myself that very question. It seems every character who ever did a turn through one of Henry’s famous knot gardens--- or one of his equally famous bedchambers for that matter, has been fictionalized. Some of them several times over. Will readers eventually grow weary of that? As many times as I ask myself that question, the resounding answer I hear in my own head is, “no”. For me at least, as an avid reader of historical fiction, as much as a writer of the genre, I believe Tudor England will never truly be over-done. Perhaps, as an area of such focus, as it has been for a while now, it will wane a bit--- replaced as it has been from time to time by vampires or guillotines, but there is something indescribably delicious about the Renaissance world (at least the glittering, royal side that most often finds its way into fiction, my own included) of banquets and jousting matches, rivalries and sweeping love affairs cloaked in all of that wonderful velvet, silk and jewelry.
The answer could be wishful thinking on my part, since I am not exactly unbiased. There is still nothing I love so much in my down time, for going on twenty years now as a published author, as turning on a Renaissance Music CD, opening up a novel, and immersing myself through literature in some element of the grand courts at Greenwich , Hampton Court or Hever Castle . For me, it just never gets old, letting those great bawdy and complex characters wrap me up and spirit me away is a taste of heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vampire and werewolf battle as much as the next reader, and I am mad for some of the wonderful books that have brought Renaissance or pre-revolutionary France to life. I even managed to fall in love with the very complicated, and often misunderstood, Regency king, George IV in his struggle to be saved by his compassionate and headstrong Maria, as I was researching my novel, The Secret Wife of King George IV. And my heart was briefly stolen again by the turbulent and intense world of the Italian Renaissance painter, Raphael, when I was trying to bring his love for Margherita Luti to life in The Ruby Ring. But who can beat a great meaty tome about a complicated man who found his way to six wives and countless fascinating mistresses, and on his way to forever changing the religion of an entire country? Henry VIII just seems to me to hold the trump card for enthralling clashes, as well as grand love affairs--- occasionally both at the same time.
My own passionate fascination with the Tudor time period only grows with each particular new world into which I step there--- and then completely delve, whether as a reader or a writer. When I began my career, it was with the wonderful, sweeping French Renaissance love affair between Diane de Poitiers and Henri II, which became my first published novel, Courtesan. So from there, it was so easy and wonderful to step across “The Narrow Sea”, back to Tudor England where my own love affair with history began.
It may have been in France , in the great halls of the stone chateaux, where Diane and Henri’s footsteps linger still, as they do upon my heart, that I found my great “Labor of Love” with Courtesan. But Tudor England is definitely where I re-discovered my “First Love”, which the classic PBS mini-series The Six Wives of Henry VIII Henry long ago had kindled when I was only an adolescent. For each of the six weeks of that original broadcast, a new wife was masterfully revealed to viewers then focused on; her complexities, weaknesses, and her ultimate end. As a teenager, I sat on the living room floor in rapt attention at the actors who became for me, Henry and his six wives. The wonderful actor, Keith Michell, was Henry VIII to me, and I was in heaven. Looking back, each of those segments were nearly as good, and as anticipated, as a weekly  episode of Bobby Sherman in Here Come The Brides. Certainly ample competition for this literature-loving teen. But I digress.
So far, I have written about Henry VIII’s wonderfully stubborn sister, Mary, next about his ill-fated fifth queen, Catherine Howard, and now in The Queen’s Rival, about Bess Blount, the mother of his only ever acknowledged natural child. Yet I am always left still wanting more. I want to know more about them all, and I want to, and do, read about them through the incredibly skilled eyes of other authors who I greatly admire, like Hilary Mantel, Philippa Gregory, Suzannah Dunn and Kate Emerson, to name a few of my favorites. If only I could learn how to live on even a little less sleep I am quite sure I would make some real headway in the huge to-be-read stack of wonderful Tudor novels beside my bed written by my very talented colleagues. Is the subject of Tudor England over-done? I for one, truly hope not.


Thanks so much Diane for visiting All Things Historical Fiction. Diane has a new book out called The Queen's Rival and she is kindly giving away 1 copy of her book to a lucky winner! To sign up to win The Queen's Rival click here: Contest ends March 12th and it's only open to US residents.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review + Giveaway: The Queen's Rival by Diane Haeger

The Queen’s Rival by Diane Haeger

Source: I received a copy from the publicist in exchange for a fair and honest review
Release Date: March 1st 2011

Setting: It’s 1513 and Henry VIII is King of England. He is desperate for a male heir, which his wife Queen Katherine of Aragon has failed to produce. In order to take his mind off his duties as king and relieve some stress due to the of a male heir, Henry decides to turn his attention to the beautiful young ladies of the Queen’s household. 

Synopsis: Little Elizabeth “Bess” Blount is just a little country girl who dreams of one day going to court and becoming one of the Queen’s ladies just like her mother. Bess finally gets her chance at court life when her mother decides to give up her position in the Queen’s apartments in order to take care of her father who has been injured while fighting in France among the kings soldiers. 

Upon her arrival, Bess is put in her place by being constantly reminded that she is only there based on a personal request from her father. All the Queen’s maids have titles and she is merely Mistress Blount. Court life is nothing like she expected. She soon learns that Queen Katherine is a pious woman and is disappointed when she discovers that the Queen does not condone music or dancing in her apartments while she is with child. As a result, all of Bess' fantasies about the glamorous and exciting life at court is squashed.

Bess did not expect to feel the overwhelming feeling of being homesick; however, her spirits are lifted when she makes friends with Elizabeth Bryan and Gilbert Tailbois who are notorious for causing trouble at court. When the king finally returns to court after being fighting in France, the atmosphere of the court becomes more cheerful and glamorous just like Bess always dreamed it was. When she is finally introduced to the King, Bess becomes completely in infatuated with him. After watching her friend Elizabeth flirting and capturing the attention of both the king and his closest friends, it was obvious to Bess that she is way behind the other court ladies when it comes to charming young gentlemen of the court. 

It did not take long for Bess to start capturing the attention of the king with her youthfulness and charming naivety. It becomes so hard for her to fight her feelings towards Henry. She feels that by giving in to her true desires she will be betraying the Queen who has so graciously excepted her into her household. By giving in to her temptations and becoming the king's mistress, Bess gives Henry something he has desired more than anything in the world, but what will it cost Bess in the end?

Review: Diane Haeger has done it again everyone! Haeger is an amazing writer who knows how to capture every minute detail. She peered into the life of King Henry VIII as a young man who is battling his emotions and learning how to control them. This is a new side of King Henry VIII that I haven’t seen portrayed be any other author. The book gets its name The Queen’s Rival because Queen Katherine views Bess as a threat to the king’s heart and soul, which she has lost due to her failure of providing a male heir.

This was such a refreshing read because Bess Blount’s story is a side of Tudor history that hasn’t found its way in many historical novels. Bess has only been briefly mentioned in Tudor novels as being his most loved mistress who provided him with something no other has been able to give King Henry.

I loved this book! It was so beautifully written and I could not help but to fall in love with Bess Blount. It was such a romantic story that I would recommend to all HF lovers and especially Tudor fanatics like myself!

If you would like the chance to read The Queen’s Rival the publicist is kindly giving away a copy to one lucky winner! US only! Giveaway ends March 16th

For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, or tweeting.  You can use the SHARE buttons below and please include the link in the form below
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