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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT WAY TO END A GREAT SERIES!
The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory is the sixth and concluding novel in The Cousins' War series, and follows in the footsteps of its preceding books - The White Princess, The Kingmaker's Daughter, The Lady of the Rivers, The Red Queen and The White Queen. This final chapter in The Cousins' War saga is centered on Margaret Pole, the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence,...
Published 2 months ago by the GreatReads!

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3.0 out of 5 stars Quite boring in places and I often struggled to stay interested
Not up to Gregory's usual high standard. Quite boring in places and I often struggled to stay interested. Also, I felt that the character of Margaret Pole was portrayed as rather one dimensional. Having done a fair bit of research myself in to Tudor history I do not think that Margaret Pole was entirely innocent of plotting against Henry Tudor. I feel that Henry...
Published 2 days ago by laurie green


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT WAY TO END A GREAT SERIES!, 30 Aug 2014
This review is from: The King's Curse (Hardcover)
The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory is the sixth and concluding novel in The Cousins' War series, and follows in the footsteps of its preceding books - The White Princess, The Kingmaker's Daughter, The Lady of the Rivers, The Red Queen and The White Queen. This final chapter in The Cousins' War saga is centered on Margaret Pole, the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, who was executed for treason by his own brother, King Edward IV. Though not a prominent player in the story in the earlier books, some passing references have been made about her without going into too much detail. The King's Curse chronicles the tumultuous period from 1499-1541, around the period when Katharine of Aragon comes to England and her eventual death.

It is not easy to bring history to life, let alone discuss about it, more so when it comes historical figures. Philippa Gregory deserves to be commended for a work well done. What is striking about The Cousins' War, particularly The King's Curse, is the meticulous research undertaken to bring the details to life, and this book, as with the others is well researched and detailed. It paints a fascinating picture of Margaret Pole, who is the cousin of King Henry VIII's mother, Queen Elizabeth of York. Her Plantaganent bloodlines make her a strong contender to the throne. But the lesson of her innocent brother who was executed as a young man just because of his royal blood left a permanent mark on her. She is determined not to draw attention either to herself or her children.

Set at a time when the Tudors are on the throne and not the Yorks, The King's Curse is a story of political intrigue, loyalty, loss and love. It is about significant events in the lives of Henry VIII, Katharine of Aragon, Princess Mary, and Lady Margaret Pole. It provides an in-depth look at the life of a woman who was both powerful and vulnerable, and fittingly brings to an end a series that is both engaging and enlightening.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely crafted novel featuring lesser known Plantagenet characters, 25 Aug 2014
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EleanorB - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The King's Curse (Hardcover)
This novel rounds off Philippa Gregory's latest series, and is one of the more fluid and accessible books featuring as it does the fate of the family of the tragic Duke of Clarence, one of the three sons of York and brother of two kings, Edward the Fourth and Richard the Third. In the post Bosworth period when reconciliation in the form of the marriage between Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York is the order of the day, the hopes of the entire country rest on the slender shoulders of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales. Margaret Plantagenet, Clarence's daughter and her conveniently humble husband are part of his household as he marries Catherine of Aragon and moves to Ludlow Castle, with fatal consequences both present and future. Margaret's own life in modest circumstances with five children to support changes dramatically when her husband dies and she finds herself in the wilderness financially and with none of the prestige that her family used to enjoy. The White Rose remains a permanent threat to Tudor ambitions and Margaret endures both the executions and exiles that are necessary to reduce the Plantagenet threat as much as possible.

She comes back to prominence in the household of Catherine of Aragon at the time of her second marriage to Henry the Eighth, Arthur's younger brother: a love match and one which promises great things. Sadly, Catherine's ability to produce a living male heir to the Tudor throne fails her time and again, leaving only one legitimate heiress in the form of Princess Mary. The upheavals of the divorce, the Boleyn marriage and its similarly unsatisfactory outcome seem to prove that the Tudor line is indeed cursed and doomed to die out.

The events featured in the book are all well known, the curse of the title is featured in earlier works in the series, as is the role of the remaining Plantagenets as a potential royal family in waiting should Henry the Eighth die without a strong heir. The author has fleshed out these characters and their dramatic, often tragic lives. Margaret sees some of her own children fatally compromised, but keeps her nerve and refuses to give up on the hopes of a Yorkist monarch rescuing England from the seriously cruel and savage man that Henry becomes in later life, lashing out at religious houses and his own family indiscriminately in the quest for the precious Tudor boy child.

The elderly Margaret herself, dragged from the Tower of London at a moment's notice, after months of imprisonment, to be judicially murdered, is a sympathetic character whose ability to bend with the prevailing political wind is remarkable and suffice to say she does not go gently into that good night.

It's good stuff and a fitting end to the series. Definitely recommend.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Patricia The Kings Curse is no Curse to Read, 8 Sep 2014
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I do like Philippa Gregory however I am not a an avid reader of her work. Thus reading this book has placed me in a position different from a fan that reads her books regularly. I did read the White Queen and I also watched the television production so I do have some of the background of the cousin war. When I started reading the Kings Curse I did not have a pre-fixed view on the content of the book. But I did understand the characters within the story. I must say I have really enjoyed this book. Some reviews have mentioned that there was to much focus given to the main character Margaret Pole. I really felt this format worked for me. It allowed me to use her as the central person and one that was easy and uncomplicated to understand. The text flowed easily and I galloped through this book which is quite lengthy piece of work. I have became interested in this era again and now intend to read the White Princess. I am doing a backward reading model but it does not matter as long as I am enjoying it. I would recommend this book to anyone with a basic knowledge of the cousins war and Tudor times. I really enjoyed the bits which explained how wealthy society worked at that time and how they looked out for each other or they just let them be destroyed if they were not on the side of the powerful one at that time. They really seemed a horrible lot but that is what made this a great read both educationally and extremely entertaining.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "How can anyone be loyal to a madman?", 10 Sep 2014
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
4.5 stars

A fitting conclusion to the Cousins' War series.
Philippa Gregory can count herself almost single-handed ly responsible for reviving a keen national interest in the Plantagenets and Tudors with these books and allowing us mere mortals to even halfway comprehend the family relationships and detailed chronology of this bloody and turbulent period in our history.

To summarise the story would be tricky as it's full of huge families of names and events. But if you remember the brother (one of the Three Sons of York) who decided to be drowned in a vat of alcohol (George), then you'll be off to a good start. Margaret is his daughter, and our narrator. She is perfectly placed to witness much of the next half century's political change. Forced into a marriage her fortunes fall and rise as Henry Tudor makes way for his son Henry VIII, after the death of first son Arthur.

It's fifty years of our history and 600 pages are filled with names, dates, treason, execution and manoeuvring. It's never dull. There are several very useful family trees and a (too short!) note at the end from the author.

Margaret's life is fascinating, I learned huge amounts (who knew how the Sweating Sickness came to England?!). Henry's reign is portrayed in detail you won't have studied in school. And characters you may have thought you liked I. History may not be so palatable now. Henry's early promise giving way to paranoia, spoiled indulgent whims and Dangerous temper is well-drawn and frightening. The note from the author about a potential medical condition illuminating.

Two small negative points. Time doesn't seem to pass in the story in some ways: Margaret seems almost ageless until near the end, when at 62 you finally see she is getting old. Henry's injury that is meant to stink to high heaven in other historical sources is never mentioned.
And Mary (Princess, later to be Queen Mary Tudor) is over-sympathised by the author. As is forever 'poor Mary', and sheltered as 'only' 12, 'only' 16, 'only 17'. I found this strange as every other woman at that time would be considered an adult by this age and not so coddled and sheltered (especially as her father has denounced her royal birth). But small things in the grand scheme.

I really enjoyed this. I think of this series as much as an education as entertainment. I really also appreciated how Gregory chose to end the story and the series. Others haven't liked it but I thought it fit the tone and sense of what had one before. What a life. A period in history. A family.

Don't miss if you've read the others in the series. I hope the White Princess and this are made into TV series shortly, would make a great study set for students and the female characters would make wonderful roles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting till the end, 7 Nov 2014
This review is from: The King's Curse (Hardcover)
This novel is the sixth and final book in Phillipa Gregory's 'Cousins War' series. This series focuses on the women at the centre of the War of the Roses, giving a voice to the women in history whereas before the focus was purely on the men.

This novel focuses on Margaret Pole, a Plantagenet with a strong claim to the throne. Her father was George Duke of Clairence, brother of Edward 4th therefore her cousin was Elizabeth of York, Henry VIIIs mother. Her close links to the throne were dangerous in these troubling times particularly when the Tudor's claim to the throne was weak to say the least. Her brother was executed by Henry VII just for his name, therefore Margaret knew all too well the dangers of being a Plantagenet in Tudor England. Throughout her life she and her family were elevated by both Henry VII and Henry VIII, and then put back down into poverty when they were seen as a threat. This novel details all of this from the eyes of Margaret, who like many at the time, was (silently) bitterly opposed to the reformation and the kings divorce to Catherine of Aragon. Gregory writes that over this dangerous period, Margaret and her family were involved in several secret plots, and eventually she and her sons were imprisoned on suspicion of treason, although more than likely their only really crime was being Plantagenets.

Maragret Pole is famous for being the oldest person who Henry VIII put to death, at 67 years old. Her execution is known to have been a brutal one due to Pole's reluctance to submit to death. Gregory believes that this is symbolic of Margaret's fight for life against the tyranny of the Tudors.

If you like historical fiction with strong women who aren't talked about much in the history lessons, I recommend this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fitting end to a very enjoyable series, 24 Sep 2014
This review is from: The King's Curse (Hardcover)
The King’s Curse is the sixth book in the ‘Cousins War’ series of historical novels by Philippa Gregory which covers the Wars of the Roses and the early Tudor period as seen from the perspective of some of the women who were key players during this time. This final novel in the series is told from the perspective of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and daughter to George, Duke of Clarence who was the brother of King Edward IV and King Richard III.

The story begins in 1499 with Margaret as a young woman, married to Sir Richard Pole, a humble knight, and trying to hide her name – Margaret Plantagenet – and with it her family’s claim to the throne, behind his. She is cousin to Queen Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII and her husband is guardian to Arthur, Prince of Wales. Over the course of the novel, various key events in the Tudor period – Prince Arthur’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon and his death, the ascension of Henry VIII, his divorce from Katherine and marriages to Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard and the change from a beloved athletic young king into a tyrant are all viewed from Margaret’s perspective.

The curse of the title refers to the curse mentioned in earlier novels in the series – when Elizabeth Woodville, queen of Edward IV, cursed the murderer of her sons (the princes in the Tower). The outcome of this curse was that whoever was responsible for their murders would see their own sons die and their line eventually die out. And so throughout this novel, we see this curse unfolding through the Tudor line as firstly Prince Arthur dies and then the sons born to Henry VIII who are all either stillborn or live only a brief time with the exception of Henry’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, who dies shortly before the king can name him as heir, and Edward VI (his son by Jane Seymour).

It’s a fascinating view on forty years of Tudor history with links to many of Philippa Gregory’s other novels set around this period which led me to want to go back and re-read them all again. The first person present tense style immediately brings you right into the heart of the story and the action which is vividly described. It is clear that there has been meticulous research into the events of the period and as with all the previous novels, left me wanting to learn more about the lives of the characters mentioned.

A fitting end to a very enjoyable series of books and thoroughly recommended reading for anyone who has any interest in this period of history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read, 13 Oct 2014
'The King's Curse' tells the story of Henry VIII from boy for the majority of his reign and is told from the perspective of Margaret Pole. This adds another element as she served Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary and at the same time as a member of the Plantagenet family had to forget her identity in order to protect her family. What interested me most with this was Gregory investigates a darker side to Henry's reign and he is portrayed as a less sympathetic monarch than usual which I found to be intriguing and at the same time believable and it help my attention. I read this very quickly as it was written so well, the last couple of Gregory's books I have not enjoyed so much but she was back on form with this novel. The descriptions are sumptuous and you can really lose yourself in this really enjoyable read. Sadly knowing about Margaret Pole before I read this, I knew the sad ending that was to come and it was with a heavy heart that I finished the book as Pole was such an enjoyable character to narrate this book and such an excellent choice. I absolutely recommend this as a must read.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immerse Yourself in Tudor England (3.5 Stars), 14 Aug 2014
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
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Only one year after the publication of 'The White Princess', Philippa Gregory has produced yet another novel in her 'Cousins' War Series' and one which takes us into the realms of one of the most well-documented of the Tudors: King Henry VIII. Our story begins in 1499 and focuses on Margaret Pole, one of the few remaining members of the Plantagenet dynasty to survive after the Wars of the Roses. Daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, who was brother to Edward IV and Richard III, Margaret is also cousin to the reigning King Henry VII's wife, and it is the Plantagenet blood, which runs in the veins of Margaret and her brother Edward, who is incarcerated in the Tower, which makes it too risky for Edward to remain a free man. Margaret, however, has a marriage arranged for her by the King's mother, to Sir Richard Pole, a Tudor supporter, and Margaret, for her own peace of mind and for the safety of her future children, acquiesces and lives quietly away from Henry VII's court; however, she is still very much involved with the royal family as she and her husband are appointed as guardians to Henry VII's eldest son, Prince Arthur, at Ludlow Castle.

When Margaret's brother, Edward, is executed, she is devastated - however, for her own sake, and the sake of her children, she carries on without allowing her grief to overwhelm her. And then the Spanish Infanta, Katherine of Aragon, comes to England to marry Prince Arthur, and Margaret finds herself becoming close to the young princess. When Prince Arthur succumbs to an illness and dies, Margaret becomes Katherine's confidante, and when Katherine is then married to Arthur's brother, Prince Henry, and later becomes his queen, Margaret is appointed as her chief lady-in-waiting, which results in her life changing for the better, but also, as we shall discover, for the worse. As time passes and Queen Katherine falls from favour when she cannot provide a much-needed male heir for her husband, Henry VIII, Margaret has to choose between her loyalty to the discarded queen, or the tyrannical Henry, finding herself involved in a fierce political battle which the increasingly ruthless King has no intention of losing. As the years pass, Margaret falls foul of Henry's wrath on more than one occasion and if you know your history, you will be aware of Margaret's tumultuous life and of her tragic plight; however, if you do not know the whole story of the heroine of this tale, I won't spoil it here for you with this review. As the author states in her interesting Afterword, this is a novel about the decline of Henry VIII from a young handsome prince, into a sick, obese tyrant, and there is a huge amount more to this 600 page story of plotting, rivalries, treachery and betrayal than I have revealed here, and much more for prospective readers to discover for themselves.

First-person related by Margaret, Philippa Gregory's latest novel is, as in her other 'Cousins' novels, written in the present tense which provides a sense of immediacy to her writing and also makes the reader feel that even if we already know the outcome of the story, her characters might just be able to change their fates, making this a suspenseful and involving read. Regular readers of Philippa Gregory's novels will be aware that although the author researches her subjects well (there are over one hundred publications listed in her Bibliography) she admits to using a certain amount of artistic licence and her own vivid imagination to compose her historical stories, so if you want your history backed up by rigid and scrupulous adherence to historical facts, then this may not be to your taste. However, if your taste for history is lighter and you want to escape to the distant past for a few hours with an easily readable and entertaining story, then immersing yourself in Philippa Gregory's Tudor England could well be what you are looking for.

3.5 Stars.

Previous books in the Cousins' War series:
The White Queen (1); The Red Queen (2);The Lady of the Rivers (3); The Kingmaker's Daughter (4); The White Princess (5)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly believable fiction from fact., 23 Sep 2014
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How well Phillipa weaves historical fact and interpretation into a fictional page turner. Both this book and it's predecessor White Princess are a fascinating insight into the early Tudors and their paranoia and despotic nature. This interpretation is at variance with the one I was taught about the Tudors and seems to fit better with the known facts. Certainly living close to the Tudor court was a dangerous business, the unpredictable and often cruel and arbitrary actions of Henry Vll and Vlll and their increasingly desperate attempts to perpetrate the Tudor dynasty that ultimately failed. Kells disease how interesting ! I have enjoyed the series written through the eyes of different women of the period and would recommend them starting back a couple of generations with The Lady of the Rivers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A grim read - but worth it., 28 Oct 2014
By 
C. Wilson "Christine" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The King's Curse (Hardcover)
I have never spent quite so long reading a book before - and that is mainly because of the grim-ness of the read and the fact that I knew how it would end. I almost willed it to end differently - but of course, it couldn’t and was in fact even more grim that I expected.

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury had fulfilled many functions in her long life. First as member of the royal family of Plantagenet’s - her Uncle being King Edward IV and her father being George Duke of Clarence. But in an instant a Plantagenet’s life can change - the title going from Royal to ‘Dangerous’. In a short period of time, she had lost her mother, father, uncle, brother and must have sighed with dismay with each son she gave birth to as their very existence spelled danger for them all. Gregory makes this very clear in her story telling as well as providing some wonderful period detail which made the book come to life for me.

Without going into further detail of the extraordinary woman’s life it is worth noting that Philippa Gregory’s story is very sympathetic to her even though I found myself shouting at the literary version of Queen Katherine of Aragon to ‘tell the truth about your virginity and go into a nunnery - it would have saved so much terrible upheaval if she had. Her failure to admit to the lie that Gregory had so perhaps unwisely portrayed for her made her a character that I could both weep for and yell at .

Gregory’s portrayal of Henry is grim. She makes no attempt at all to show he had a conscience or that he pondered over the monstrous decisions he took - and that is fair enough. As a historical novelise she can take any line she likes. Plenty of novelist try to show Henry as ‘a man’ rather than ‘a monster’ but Gregory certainly shows that madness and fear that must have been felt at the time of his reign. Perhaps we need to stop seeing Henry as merely the King with Six Wives but in fact the monstrous King who was responsible for murder and tyranny and is perhaps one of our very worst Kings of England.

This was truly a grim read - and once again illustrates the extreme danger of being anywhere near to the throne if the King has no heir or is insecure on his throne. It happens time after time in England’s history - best known as ‘the Princes in the Tower’ also later known as the persecution of the Grey sisters by first Mary and then Elizabeth, and the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Gregory is clearly very at home with the subject matter having written several other books on this period. I hope she writes about Reginald Pole next or any surviving Plantagenet's.
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The King's Curse
The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory (Hardcover - 14 Aug 2014)
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