Sunday 25 January 2015

Review ~ The King's Sister by Anne O'Brien.

Title: The King's Sister.
Author: Anne O'Brien.
Publisher: Mira.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Publication Date: November 7, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

One betrayal is all it takes to change history

1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men.

In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted.

But defiance can come at a price.

1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confidant to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice.

Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death.

Sister. Wife. Traitor. She holds the fate of England in her hands.

The King’s Sister is a beauty of a book, 560 pages of stunning storytelling that really deserves to be slowly taken in and appreciated. Anne O’Brien has such a wonderful way with words which meant that as the novel was built up with love, lies and conflict, I was completely enthralled by the characters’ lives and the huge choice the protagonist Elizabeth of Lancaster was set to be faced with. The King’s Sister made me crave more historical fiction, the good type where the characters are well drawn, realistic, and the plot is bold, brave and very well researched, much like what Anne O’Brien delivers so skilfully here.

Daughter of John of Gaunt, Elizabeth is expected to live her life a certain way – most notably to marry Jonty at her father’s request, Jonty who is eight years old and nine years younger than her, of whom she has no romantic feelings for at all. Elizabeth is more strong-willed than her family give her credit for and rather than being forced into a life she doesn’t want, she allows herself to be pursued by the Duke of Exeter, John Holland, the man she’s desperately in love with. As they come to marry, and Elizabeth’s brother Henry becomes King, massive conflict follows and Elizabeth is torn between the love of her family and the love of her husband, with a life-changing and life-threatening choice to be made.

The King’s Sister is a passionate and dangerous story, with emotions running high as the drama increased throughout. Unlike what I had expected, my allegiances were about as torn as Elizabeth’s as each character was flawed, without being one-dimensional. None of them were easy characters to live with but in the same way, as the tension and drama became unbearable, I got the sense that quite a few of their faults came about through their love and passion, as well as the political influence of life in that era. Elizabeth herself is careless and a bit selfish at times, focusing a lot on herself and not how her choices will be impacting other people, but I thought her attitude to chase the life she wanted at times was admirable too. I loved reading the romance between her and John, from the beginning of the book when it was more na├»ve right to the stages their feelings became stronger and then when things look to be about to come between them.

It didn’t take me long to get into this story and it was a gripping one once I did, getting more entertaining as it went on. With divided loyalties on both parts and plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing, The King’s Sister was a different kind of story, fresh and interesting and delivered assuredly. I enjoyed the suggestion as to how life may have been for a historical figure less written about, and Elizabeth’s story here was eventful and fascinating to say the least. One thing was always promised, lives were going to get torn apart, but who was going to suffer the most? I loved the way it turned out.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon


  1. I had this this week from a competition off suuz. I am looking forward to reading it x

  2. Lots of great reviews so I expect I will.


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