Fatal Throne Book Review


         “To survive at court, one must be cunning. Beware of the quiet ones, my mother always said. They are the greatest deceivers of all.”- Fatal Throne

I just finished reading Fatal Throne, and even though book reviews can be overdone and boring, I feel like I need to make you read this. As a lover of shows and books about kings and queens, I picked this book up to see the back of the book for the summary. But little did I know that I would end up staying up late chasing the characters through scandal, heartbreak, and treason. Everyone always focuses on the great kings of the world when the queens are the real fighters. They are the hands behind the puppets, they are warriors, and they are stronger than we give them credit for. This book is written by seven people that are excellent writers and well researched. They create such a good picture of life before modern technology, good and bad. *quick note- scandal, language, and six marriages may apply. 

I wouldn’t just give anything five stars, but this deserves it. I felt like I was rooting for each queen and attacking their enemies, going into their lives like I was apart of them. You start into the story with a confusing section about each queen’s experiences when they are older, and then they piece together memories of their reign. Each part contains a different queen that were all Henry VIII wives. The king of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. From his back story, written by M.T Anderson, the king was second in line to the throne to his brother King Arthur. Who was sickly and died after marrying Kathrine of Aragon. * a quick note is that in this book, the authors made it easier to distinguish the queens by spelling all the Catherines differently. This is not how they spelled their names. Anyway, Henry being young, was not able to take the throne right way, so he waited. He was already in love with his brother’s wife, so he married her as soon as his father died and he became king. Throughout the book, you will see that he always wants what he can’t have. His attention never really stays on one woman.  *another quick note- in this period a queen has to produce a male heir to secure the monarchy, if you don’t, you are not going to live or be queen very long.

 All these queens had a downfall, or they would have stayed queen. So it was not surprising that Henry’s attention drifted from his first wife after she was not able to bear a son. Their daughter Mary was not fit to rule because she was a girl, and the king wanted a boy. Katherine was from Spain, an alliance set up by powerful families. She was one of the only queens that did not speak out against Henry. Humble and loyal was her motto. This, in my opinion, saved her from death. Not only was she a queen, but she was also a warrior. Fighting in battles the same as a king would. 

She was sent away to live in solitude separated from her daughter, which wasn’t fun. Their marriage was annulled in the following May by Archbishop Cranmer, thus ending the first of Henry’s six marriages. The divorce went against the Roman Catholic belief system, so Henry created his church, the Church of England. Mainly he left her to marry another girl, Anne Boleyn, who was the sister to the king’s former mistress. They began to see each other way before Katherine was sent away. 

Anne was probably one of the most disliked. Having crumbled the Roman church, some people never recognized her as the second queen. She was angry, flirty, and very selfish. She was horrible to Mary, Katherine’s daughter, and locked her up. Mary never recognized Anne Boleyn as the queen, grieving her mother, who had just left. Even though this queen was the fiery, at least, she stuck up for herself. After the king got tired of her, he sought someone more kind. Jane Seymour, a bullied queen’s lady, turned queen. The king bought her jewelry and was in love with her. Bound to obey and serve, was her motto. After Anne saw Jane wearing a necklace from the king, she ripped it off her neck and did something that was her downfall. She flirted with others in the hope of again catching the king’s attention. But instead, men in the king’s council conspired against her and said that she cheated on the king. She was put to trial, but nothing could save her.

 Before all this happened, Anne had given birth to a girl. This was good for Jane because if she had given the king a son, the king wouldn’t have remarried. Elizabeth was the baby’s name, only getting to see her mother for a few years because, after the trial, she was beheaded. An unfortunate ending, especially if she was your favorite. 

Next was Jane Seymour, who was the most selfless queen. She never disobeyed Henry, they were each other’s other half. She kept him calm, and he gave her adventure. She never was divorced or was sent to death, after having a son for Henry she died in childbirth. You could tell she was loved by him as well as the people. She was both quiet and reliable, the one that I consider the most clever. Even though she was calm, that was probably the smartest. 

The 4th queen was Anne of Cleves; she was not beheaded or sent away; the cause of her death was cancer. She was very smart with all the things she did as a queen. She remembered her mother saying that you can’t help the cards you were dealt, just the way you play them. Anne was married off to Henry even though she did not know the language. She started not so good, offending the king, and then never getting along after that. The problem started because her portrait made her look beautiful when, in fact, she was not. 

She fought to the very end, childless, but getting the best outcome. She refused to divorce Henry because she knew that he had no evidence of anything she did that would cause her a reason to die and that the king was running out of time to have heirs, which he needed. Henry, by this time, was getting old and weak. Instead of waiting, the king gave her a title, lands, and jewels for her mercy. She had the king’s favor and lived in peace. She was letting him beg her for divorce, not dying at his hand. 

The fifth one was probably the least lucky. Catherine Howard. She was the most infamous one out of the queens, as a favorite of the king to begin with she was not surprised when she was courted. Even though she did not want to be queen. Throughout the book, the queens say that Henry not only gained weight but also had an ulcer on his leg that smelled bad and was diseased. Ewwww. Him being around 50 when they meet, she was not exactly fighting to be his wife. She had a boy back home she was in love with, and ended up not being faithful to the king. She started right, the king in love with her. Mainly I think it was her youth and how happy she was. She loved to dance and was not mean at all. She was ambitious, though; I believe that all the queens other than Jane were. They all thought that they were different, that the king loved them more than the other, that they were untouchable. When sadly, they were disposable. Even though you realize how surviving at court is not an easy task, we can not imagine the pressure or scary world of being queen. 

Catherine was locked in the tower after the king found out about her current affair. She was beheaded by an ax and went out both in shame and in pain. She had not produced an heir, so that was that. The last queen was Katheryn Parr. After the beheading of his 4th wife, he was both lonely and angry, looking for a wife to marry fast, knowing that he didn’t have much time left. His leg was both diseased and painful. She was known as the queen who survived, outliving the king by a year. She had been married two times before Henry and was the queen with the most marriages in the group. She was a strategist; she knew if she married Henry, she would not only raise her station but her family’s. Her goal was to unite all three of Henry’s children and give him an heir. She did neither of those things, but did survive and thrived at court more than the other queens. The story ended with Henry’s death in 1547. It gives you a perfect ending by showing the next queen of England, Elizabeth. I know you are like what, a girl? Even though Henry had one son by Jane Seymour? Yep, he dies young due to his lungs, and the thing that Henry killed most of his wives over happened in the end. A girl was going to rule England.