The King’s Witch is the gripping first installment of the Frances Gorges Historical Trilogy, by Tracy Borman, Ph.D. a brilliant storyteller and historian. While this seems to begin as a historical romance novel, it is so much more. The book covers the Gunpowder Plot, the scheme in which a group of men fed up with the anti-Catholic machinations of King James I, planned the assassination of he and his eldest son, Henry, along with the members of both houses of Parliament. They stockpiled large amounts of firewood and gunpowder in a room underneath the meeting room of Parliament, intending to ignite it during a meeting. The goal was to blow up Parliament, then set up a Catholic regime with James’s 9-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, as a puppet queen.
On March 24, 1603, Queen Elizabeth I dies childless, and her cousin, James of Scotland, is waiting impatiently to take over the English throne. Attending her is Frances Gorges, who is talented with herbal remedies, and loves the outdoors, especially flowers and animals. Frances wants nothing more than to be home on her parents’ bucolic Longford. Unfortunately, her parents’ positions at court, and her uncle’s greed and ambition prevent that.
Frances is assigned as the companion of then 8-year-old Elizabeth. She soon meets Thomas Wintour and, of course, they fall in love. Tom is involved in the plot to remove James, and Frances is unwittingly drawn into it as well, but not before being imprisoned and tried for witchcraft.
James, who was already on the throne of Scotland as James the VI, came to London as the English James I, intending to continue the fanatical purging of witches that he had been doing is Scotland. “Witches” being anyone who was considered a healer, or who worked with herbs, especially if he or she happened to be around when a sick person died, or when someone “miraculously” recovered.
Though not the leader of the Powder Plot, as it came to be known, Guido “Guy” Fawkes, is the only one of the assassins who remains famous today. Masks made into a stark-white likeness of his face have become popular among protestors, and are the face of the present-day group, “Anonymous”.
The King’s Witch is more historically accurate than many historical novels, especially romantic ones. If you love British history, you will love The King’s Witch.
What Makes This Book Reviewer Grumpy?
- “bringing” should be “taking”;
- far too many sentences begin with conjunctions;
- “that” is frequently used unnecessarily (e.g., “…by the time that they arrived…”;
- “forkfuls” should be “forksful”;
- “further” and “furtherest” should be “farther” and farthest;
- “…the past half an hour…” could/should be “…the past half-hour…”;<
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc., who provided me with a pre-publication copy. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.