Author: Michael Stolle
Publisher: self published
Part of a Series: The French Orphan
Type of book: France, prestige, Louis XIII, Anne of Spain, homosexuality, inheritance, patricide, murder, orphan, monk, romance, friendship, travel, United Kingdom, King Charles, 1640-1641?
Year it was published: 2012
The year is 1640, and Louis XIII is on the French throne. However, as far as you’re concerned, this is all pretty meaningless. After all, as a teenage orphan living in a monastery school in Reims, all you have to worry about is dodging the unpleasant advances of a few unsavoury monks and looking forward to a life of penniless and celibate servitude in a religious order.
After a childhood and adolescence plagued by a constant longing to know who he really is, orphan Pierre has not the slightest idea that his questions are about to be answered. But you know what they say – be careful what you wish for…
Suddenly finding out who you are can bring with it not only happiness and fortune, but danger, friendship and the sort of swift education that the monastery could never have provided! The discovery of who Pierre really is affects not only Pierre and his friends, but has ramifications for the French nobility, the English crown, and most dangerous of all, the machinations of Cardinal Richelieu and his fierce ambition for the Church and for himself.
There are a lot of characters, and I'm afraid to mention that I'm not sure which plot events come from the second and third novels because they do run a bit into each other, thus I will focus on very few characters. Pierre de Beavoir is an orphan at a prestigious monastery who gets into madcap adventures with his friend Armand de St Paul. Pierre is about seventeen and is often described as intelligent yet naive as well as extremely good looking with blonde hair and blue eyes. He is often mistaken for his cousin Henri. Armand is literally a skirt-chaser who is best friends with Pierre and even initiates Pierre into the carnal mysteries. He is dark haired and dark eyed and comes from a distinguished line and seems to be the type that cares more for appearances rather than intellecutal pursuits. Henri is Pierre's evil cousin who desires to become the heir rather than his cousin. He is good looking and often mistaken for Pierre and can be charming as well as ruthless to those he hates and loves. People often get fooled by his looks in thinking he is an angel and he takes full advantage of that. Marie is Pierre's love interest who seems to be tomboyish and hates being thought of as a 'typical' woman. Celine (I'm not sure if she's in first book) is Marie's cousin who is independent and acts as a chaperone for Marie.
Friends can be extremely valuable
The story is in third person narrative from Pierre's, Armand's and Henri's points of view. I think some other characters like Marie also give their points of view. What I did appreciate and like about the book are more details about Louis XIII and his marriage to Anne of Spain. Dumas, I believe, took it for granted that the audience would know about Louis XIII's sexuality, thus Dumas' The Three Musketeers wasn't fleshed out as these series are, which I liked. I also appreciated that the author paid attention to the showering debacle because in the past, guess what, people rarely, if ever bathed or took showers, seeing them as bad. Many authors tend to ignore that part, but the author doesn't. shy away from it. From what I can see, the author pays careful attention to small and great details which creates an interesting story to get lost in. Although this is from the future novels, I appreciated that Henri was given some successes with failures which makes his experiences seem more natural. One thing I'd like to mention is that the author should work a bit more on his female characters and their hobbies/ interests.
(From the book)
Born and educated on the Continent, Michael has spent most of his working outside the UK. ALthough an Economics graduate, Michael's first love has always been history, and he indulges hsi thrist for reading at every opportunity.
It was during yet another tedious business trip and a severe lack fo suitable reading matter that the characters of Pierre, Armand, and Henri came to mind; once they were conceived, so to speak, it was only a matter of time before they became real and took over any free time Michael had. The rest, as they say, is history. Or historical fiction, perhaps...
Best way fro me to describe the story is The Adventure of Three Musketeers but what if it was written more for modern times instead of in the past? The story does take place around the time The Three Musketeers was set (yes, Louis XIII and even the Cardinal are included.) While the writing style makes the book more suited for young adult readers, some aspects of the book are not for young adults, (the book has menage a trois) and unfortunately the possible bisexual character is portrayed very negatively. I did read the other three books, and I will mention that homosexuality is portrayed as something natural to the characters, for example characters accept different sexuality of other characters, but its a shame that one character is portrayed badly. Also as well, I think I would have liked for women to be more well rounded. I understand that this is 17th century and women were severely limited, but I have read lots of other historical fiction where women were given more interests and personality beyond being the love interest or working in a bar.
This is for HFVBT
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)