Saturday, January 16, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - French Executioner Series: The French Executioner & The Curse of Anne Boleyn by C.C. Humphreys

Length: 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 7, 2014)


The last thing Jean Rombaud expects upon being summoned to behead Anne Boleyn is to dedicate his life to her. But the ill-fated queen has a mysterious request for her executioner: that after taking her life he also take her infamous six-fingered hand and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France. His oath will set Jean on the most dangerous journey of his life.

In The French Executioner, C.C. Humphreys once again brings the past to life in all its glory and peril. This thrilling novel captures the breathtaking story of how courage, love, and loyalty bound Anne Boleyn to the man who ended her life―and saved her legacy.

My Review of The French Executioner

I am a sucker for historical fiction novels about or involving Anne Boleyn. I have been intrigued and awed by her since I was 10 and came across one of the older novels about her and read it. I fell in love with her story right then, and have read every book I could find about her since then. The French Executioner is not exactly about Anne Boleyn, but it definitely does deal with her life. The premise of this novel is that when Anne was ordered to be executed by her husband, King Henry VIII, because of her supposed adultery with many men, including (supposedly) her brother (in reality the king just wanted to get rid of her so he could marry Jane Seymore). Anne's executioner, Jean Rombaud, was requested from France, where he was known for his ability to execute criminals cleanly and quickly with his sword.  As a last act of "kindness", Henry VIII allowed her to be executed by Jean, rather than by the regular executioner and his ax or being burned at the stake. Anne requests that her hand with six fingers (some historians say that she had six fingers, but I believe it was a smear campaign by those who hated her) be buried at a sacred crossroad in France. Jean pledges to Anne that he will follow through with her request, and after her execution he sets out on a journey to fulfill his promise. The journey is, of course, filled with danger, mystery, adventure, and intrigue. It started out a little slow for me, but once I got into it I definitely enjoyed it. I love historical fiction from the time period of King Henry VIII and his wives, so this novel fit right in with my preferred genre. The book is the first of a set of two, with the second novel called The Curse of Anne Boleyn. I have read both, and really liked both of them. Unfortunately, I read them out of order, and I would suggest reading this book prior to book 2. 

I would definitely recommend this novel to historical fiction fans. It's an interesting read, and the author is an excellent writer. The descriptions of scenery, people, and life during that time period take you right there with the characters. The characters are well-rounded, and likable, which is huge for me when it comes to enjoying a novel. 
I give this novel a FOUR out of FIVE stars.

Reviews for The French Executioner

"Humphreys has fashioned a rollicking good yarn that keeps the pages turning from start to finish."―Irish Examiner

"A wonderful saga of magic and heroism. If you can find a first impression, hoard it and wait till it rises in value like a first edition of Lord of the Rings. This is as good."―Crime Time, UK

"A brilliant, brutal, and absorbing historical thriller on the real-life figure of Jean Rombaud, the man who beheaded Anne Boleyn."―Northern Echo

"Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well earned and hard-won." --Library Journal

"Humphreys (Jack Absolute) breathes life into 16th century Europe with this fascinating tale of adventure and mystery...Humphreys's characters are well drawn and deeply empathetic, and Rombaud's mission remains entertaining throughout. " --Publishers Weekly

Sequel to The French Executioner

Length: 416 Pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (May 5, 2015)


From the masterful C.C. Humphreys comes the captivating sequel to The French Executioner

Nearly twenty years have passed since Anne Boleyn died at the hands of her slayer and savior, Jean Rombaud. All he wants is to forget his sword-wielding days and live happily with his family. Yet her distinctive six-fingered hand, stolen at her death—and all the dark power it represents—still compels evil men to seek it out.

When Jean's son, Gianni, joins the Inquisition in Rome and betrays all his father worked for, Jean discovers that time alone cannot take him—or his son—far from his past. But he never expected his whole family, especially his beloved daughter Anne, to become caught up once more in the tragic queen's terrible legacy.

From the savagery of way in Italy to the streets of London and Paris and the wilds of North America,The Curse of Anne Boleyn sweeps readers into a thrilling story that puts love, loyalty, and family to the ultimate test.

My Review of The Curse of Anne Boleyn

Give me a novel about Anne Boleyn, and I am a happy reader! This might sounds like an exaggeration, but I have been reading novels about Anne Boleyn's life, every book I can find, for well over 10 years. "The Curse of Anne Boleyn" by C.C. Humphreys is another great novel that is related to Anne Boleyn’s fascinating story. I like how the author wrote a book that is not really about Anne, but more so about the legacy she left, and how her life, and her death in this novel, affected those who had any connection with her. This novel is the story that follows C.C. Humphrey's first novel, The French Executioner. It is a continuation of Jean Rombaud's story, as he attempts to follow through with a promise he made to Anne Boleyn prior to executing her at the King's order. The author takes the reader on a fast paced journey through many parts of the world. The amount of research that had to have gone into this novel is astounding, however the reader is never bogged down with lists of facts. There is intrigue, adventure, and several twists that will surprise the reader. It is definitely a book that I recommend reading if historical fiction, especially during the time period of the Tudors in England, is a genre you enjoy. Several others have suggested reading the first novel, The French Executioner, before this novel. I would have to agree, because there are details that might be lost to the reader if they have not read the first book. It is possible to read this as a stand-alone, but I think the reader will enjoy it more if they read both novels.

I give this novel a FIVE out of FIVE stars, and I definitely recommend reading The Curse of Anne Boleyn, as well as The French Executioner by C.C. Humphreys.

Reviews for The Curse of Anne Boleyn

"Humphreys is a master of the sweeping epic, merging the battles of an Errol Flynn movie with all the intrigues of the Borgias. Fans of good old-fashioned adventures will adore this ambitious novel." - RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

"C.C. Humphreys stays true to his adventurous style and flair and treats his audience to another great read in his latest book: The Curse of Anne Boleyn... What a treat to read yet another engaging adventure penned by the likes of Mr. Humphreys" - Feathered Quill Book Reviews

"Great for readers who are looking for an action story with a little bit of mystery included." - A Bookish Affair
"Humphrey's attention to historical detail, his deftly crafted characters, combined with a storyline replete with unexpected twists and turns, makes for an engaging and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end. " - Midwest Book Review

About the Author - C.C. Humphreys

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto and grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. Favorite roles have included Hamlet, Caleb the Gladiator in NBC’s Biblical-Roman epic mini-series, ‘AD – Anno Domini’, Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, and Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’.

Chris has written eight historical novels. The first, ‘The French Executioner’ told the tale of the man who killed Anne Boleyn, was runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002, and has been optioned for the screen. Its sequel was ‘Blood Ties’. Having played Jack Absolute, he stole the character and has written three books on this ‘007 of the 1770’s’ – ‘Jack Absolute’, ‘The Blooding of Jack Absolute’ and ‘Absolute Honour’- short listed for the 2007 Evergreen Prize by the Ontario Library Association, all currently being re-released in the US by Sourcebooks. His novel about the real Dracula, ‘Vlad, The Last Confession’ was a bestseller in Canada and his novel, ‘A Place Called Armageddon’ was recently published in Turkish. All have been published in the UK, Canada, the US and many have been translated in various languages including Russian, Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Serbian, Turkish and Indonesian.

He has also written a trilogy for young adults ‘The Runestone Saga’. A heady brew of Norse myth, runic magic, time travel and horror, the first book in the series ‘The Fetch’ was published in North America in July 2006, with the sequel, ‘Vendetta’ in August 2007 and the conclusion, ‘Possession’, August 2008. They are also published in Russia, Greece, Turkey and Indonesia. His latest Young Adult novel ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’ was released by Knopf in North America in March 2011 and also published in Spain.

His new adult novel ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’, about William Shakespeare’s fight choreographer at the time of ‘Hamlet’, was released in the UK in March 2013 and in Canada August 2011.
He has recently signed to write two books for Century in the UK and Doubleday in Canada. ‘Plague’ and ‘Fire’ are tales of religious fundamentalist serial killers set against the wild events of 1665 to 1666, London. They will be published in 2014 and 2015.

Chris lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife and young son.

Visit Author's Official Web Site

Purchase The French Executioner

Purchase The Curse of Anne Boleyn

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