To Serve a King Paperback – 25 Jan 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Nevertheless, I have read her previous two stories as romances, but this one is somewhat different. All is not as it seems, both to the heroine & to us. I was a little disappointed that her lover was forced into a situation whereby she became a traitor, to him & all she had believed she stood for.
I did enjoy the descriptions of King Francois's court & the lives of his courtiers. How these people lived is quite remarkable to us today.
Also, it is good to read 'historical' stories which are not necessarily as we may have been told, as children in the classrooms. After all, each nation chooses how to manipulate history to show itself in as favourable light as possible. Henry V111 being a prime example. He is either revered or hated, depending on your religious preferences I guess. Not withstanding his cruelty. I cannot imagine anyone really has a lot of sympathy for the man he became. And he was quite cruel in this story, not only to the protagonist.
I nearly always add a comment about the sex scenes in books, because I think of someone like my mother, who would not be at all happy to read about anything that went lower than the neck! So, yes, there is a little more than that in this book, but nothing explicit.
Well written, interesting and intriguing. Don't make the mistake I made and leave this one too long on your to-be-read pile - put it right at the top as next in line - you'll not regret it.
Young Genevieve's life changes when her parents are killed in a fire at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and King Henry VIII decides she is to be reborn as a spy, his own "beautiful weapon". Raised in seclusion, by a cold and callous woman she knows as her aunt, Genevieve is taught how to decipher messages, weaponry and languages. Also brainwashed into believing King Francois I killed her parents and that King Henry VIII is an all-powerful supreme being, she would do anything to avenge her family and please her benefactor, which means infiltrating the court of Francois I as a lady in waiting to Anne d'Heilly, the king's mistress.
But Francois I is not the monster she had been expecting. A learned man and patron of the arts, Francois is a true Renaissance king and the fact that he is also charming, generous and sincere is unarming to Genevieve. She had been bred to believe the worst of this man and here he was slowly becoming a father figure to her, causing Genevieve to question her mission and torn between the two biggest forces in her life.
To Serve a King is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read! I loved the quotes that began every chapter, the characters were well developed and the descriptions of Francois' opulent court were breathtaking. I loved reading about Francois I and now want to know more about him. A fast paced read with a clever and tenacious protagonist, I found it hard to put down! Any fan of historical mysteries will love this exciting read by Donna Russo Morin!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the novel, To Serve A King, Donna Russo Morin brings to life the affluence and magnificence of the 16th century French court. Important persons of the era make appearances in the story; from Nostradamus and the infamous Diane de Poitiers, to Catherine de Medici and Anne d'Heilly, lending credibility and historical detail to the story. As the tale unfolds, the heroine progresses from a determined young woman obsessed at revenge, to one who begins to question her own values and beliefs as loyalties are tested and secrets revealed. Numerous interesting character interactions and intrigues hold the reader's interest throughout the story. The chapter endings are exquisite, and hook the reader to turn the page to read more.
This novel sweeps readers into a turbulent time and takes us into the court of King Francois of France who surrounded himself with the best art, music, and artists of the time. What I enjoyed is although the Tudors are part of the story, they, for once, are not the focus. I liked the author's portrayal of the King of France's portrayal, for even though he is the heroine's nemesis, he comes across as kind hearted, heroic, and magnaimous, which is how I believe he truly was viewed by his people.
Impeccably researched, and strewn with delightful descriptions of clothing, furniture, and the aromatic foods of the period, one cannot help but truly enjoy the experience that comes from reading this novel. The reader is drawn by the strength and determination of the affable heroine. From laughter and joy, to sadness and fear, the reader experiences a realm of emotions as the heroine outwits her adversaries and dodges danger as she learns the real truth about her past. For anyone who loves historical fiction with feisty heroines set in majestic surroundings, this make a very satisfying, enjoyable read. Like all of Donna Russo Morin's novels, this one is sure to entertain.
*** Once again author Morin (The Courtier's Secret and The Secret of the Glass) has used her considerably gifted elegant prose to paint vivid pictures of the Renaissance court of Francois I with a heroine who is both graced with beauty, intelligence and a plethora of unusual fighting, spying and assassination talents. Genevieve has been groomed well with language skills, and how to stay alive and below the radar amongst a court of sycophants intent on using each other to climb to the highest rungs of the royal court social system.'
In TO SERVE A KING, Morin's heroine was one of the most admirable of heroines I've read about in a long time. Genevieve was a highly accomplished equestrian and sharp shooting archer being able to take down a charging animal to save a man's life with one perfectly aimed arrow. Her accomplishments all came to fruition when Genevieve was taken into the service of Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly, Duchess d'Etampes, King Francois' mistress and advisor. In this position Genevieve would be more likely to gain and pass along the most important and influentially damaging information to King Henry. '
The author picked a setting of the somewhat obscure court of Francois I, weaving prime historical figures along with fictional characters to make this a well-conceived story where the reader can quite imagine that these events just may have happened. To be perfectly honest I was truly surprised at the finale and applaud Ms. Morin for coming up with such a splendid solution. [And, no, I doubt anyone will figure it out until the very end unless someone gives out spoilers, which I hope no one does.]'
Bottom line: Ms. Russo is fast becoming one of the major players in writing Historical fiction, in TO SERVE A KING - she could very well become the next `Queen' of the genre!'
Marilyn Rondeau, for [...]
King Henry VIII of England believes the girl is a perfect tool to assassinate a rival across the Channel. He encourages her to be the best agent and she swears her loyalty to her liege. Believing the time is right, he sends his top trained spy to France to preferably kill his royal rival or if that is not possible to provide valuable information to the English ruler. However, instead of an amoral despot, Genevieve, who obtains a position as maid of honor to the royal mistress Anne de Pisseleau, finds the French king honest, fair and pushing the renaissance across a court filled with art and artists. The king feels the Renaissance movement will be good for all of Ftamce. The English spy feels a dilemma as the king she pledged loyalty to turns out to be an immoral beast while the king she vowed to murder is a benign ruler.
This is a fascinating look at a rarely seen Tudor rival, King Francis (Francois) of France who pushes the Renaissance to enlighten France. The glimpse at his court is refreshing as sixteenth century focus is normally on the Tudor monarchs (see Robin Maxwell's Mademoiselle Boleyn). However, Genevieve's conflict between royals is not on a par with the French court background; as the King of France comes across as a heroic enlightened ruler while the King of England comes across as a villainous avarice despot.
While much is written about Henry VIII, his court, his wives, and his trouble with religion, very little (at least in the Historical Fiction world) is written about his French counterpart, Francois I. Sure, I've read books where Francois is mentioned, or bits and pieces of his life and court are mentioned in books about other French Royals (like Catherine de Medici, or Diane de Poitiers), but this was my first glimpse inside the day-to-day court life of King Francois I of France, and I really liked it!
I won't summarize this story since it's already been done here, but if you're at all interested in reading this, I absolutely recommend it. It's not full of action or great suspense (which is why I gave it 4 and not 5 stars), but the story moves along at good pace, and Genevieve is a likable heroine. This was a nice break from all the other Tudor Historical Fiction books out there that start to sound the same, and I'll be looking out for future novels from this author.