Billed as the story of the fact-based romance between Marie Mancini, niece of the powerful Cardinal Mazarin, and a young King Louis XIV of France — this historical novel strikes me much more as a story about the struggle for power between Louis and the Cardinal. Typical for women of this time, the Queen Mother and Marie are more secondary players.
The Cardinal has ruled France for years, since Louis became King at such a young age. He is understandably reluctant to give up that power now that Louis has become a man. And Louis, accustomed to doing what the Cardinal says, has to learn to assert himself. Marie is trying her best to encourage him to become the great King she sees him as — but it’s a struggle. Complete with spies, false imprisonments, poison, magic and spells, secret love letters, and stolen treasure. All the best that historical fact has to offer.
However, while it’s a great story, I found the narrative got bogged down because the author incorporated a bit too much period detail. Lots of description about bathing, dressing, and eating rituals just don’t interest me that much. If you love that sort of thing, you might give this one 5 stars.