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VIII [Reading] ➬ VIII ➳ H.M. Castor – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Destined for greatness tormented by demonsII is the story of Hal a young handsome gifted warrior who believes he has been chosen to lead his people But he is plagued by the ghosts of his family s viol Destined for greatness tormented by demonsII is the story of Hal a young handsome gifted warrior who believes he has been chosen to lead his people But he is plagued by the ghosts of his family s violent past and once he rises to power he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty He is Henry VIII HM Castor does for Henry what Hilary Mantel did for Thomas Cromwell VIII is Wolf Hall for the teen and cross over market.

  • Hardcover
  • 432 pages
  • VIII
  • H.M. Castor
  • English
  • 10 February 2015
  • 1442474181

About the Author: H.M. Castor

HM Castor is an accomplished writer and historian who had her first book published when she was fourteen years old She studied history at Cambridge University and has always been fascinated by the story of Henry VIII She lives with her husband and two daughters in Bristol England.



10 thoughts on “VIII

  1. Sarah Sarah says:

    Oh, to get one s teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler There was real crackling there something to crunch a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured It warmed your innards when you d got it down. C.S Lewis, Screwtape Proposes a Toast emphasis mine A vibrant mix of historical fiction, horror, and abnormal psych, VIII is on every level a success.Jump inside the head of little Prince Hal, hiding Oh, to get one s teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler There was real crackling there something to crunch a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured It warmed your innards when you d got it down. C.S Lewis, Screwtape Proposes a Toast emphasis mine A vibrant mix of historical fiction, horror, and abnormal psych, VIII is on every level a success.Jump inside the head of little Prince Hal, hiding with his mother in the Tower of London as other claimants to the throne rise against his father Here something goes terribly wrong, something the poor child cannot verbalize As he grows up, he ignores red flags, gives in to paranoia, and becomes emotionally frozen as a damaged, erratic adolescent Was King Henry VIII doomed, or did he have a choice all along H.M Castor describes the sixteenth century characters and setting in a hyper modern style, first person and present tense with short chapters The dialogue is a lot less formal or longwinded than it probably would have been back then Yet the book never feels inauthentic Castor clearly did her homework, and peppers the book with details of daily life then that firmly ground the story in its world The characters sound not that different from us today, yet their mindsets are right in sync with their own era The author has cleaned the window between the present and the past, but has not broken it.Content Advisory Violence The reader witnesses a young Henry get beaten up by his brother and the brother s guards on one occasion, and twice he is beaten by his father As an adult, Henry can be physically abusive to anyone who catches him in a temper he seems to save his worst strikes for Anne Boleyn, but even his darling son Edward is attacked Henry hallucinates about having to kill a hideous dragon Off page, executions take place, never described in any detail Sex Young Hal and his friends make a few crude jokes about Arthur and Catherine of Aragon, implying that he s impotent and she has er a Y chromosome Henry brings Anne to a treasure room and wants to make out with her, but to his great confusion, she d rather plot against her enemies Later he accuses her of adultery, included incest with her own brother, and makes himself believe it Henry seduces Jane Seymour off page Also off page is an affair between Henry s gentleman in waiting Tom Culpepper and wife 5 Katherine Howard Language There s a few historically accurate profanities scattered throughout Most of the infrequent cussing is Hal and pals enjoying potty humor Substance Abuse True to the time period, everyone drinks beer because the water is filthy However, we rarely see anyone actually drunk Nightmare Fuel Henry is haunted throughout his life by a grotesque creature, a human looking being neither living nor dead, with a grey, sunken face and reddish blond hair like Henry s own The being seems to grow along with him although it stops aging at his mental age, rather than his physical age At first he takes it for the ghost of one of his uncles, the two famous princes who were likely murdered in the Tower Politics and Religion As his spirit leaves his dying body, Henry notes that there is a draft of unpleasantly warm air below him that seems to get hotter and hotter, implying quite strongly that he s going to Hell.Conclusions VIII is an ambitious project Not only does it utilize modern vocabulary and storytelling tricks to draw today s adolescent reader close to Renaissance historical figures It successfully makes you empathize, and sympathize, with one of the most notorious tyrants in history The book is hardly excusing Henry s bloody deeds, but it dares the readers to see themselves in him, that every human being has the same potential for evil For who among us could fail to pity a child, abused by father and brother, hiding in a dungeon with his mother the selfsame dungeon where his mother s brothers quite possibly met their ends It is here that Henry first sees the thing that will haunt him ever after, the personification of his fears and wounds At first he believes the being to be the ghost of one of his missing uncles, but when questioned it denies this As Henry becomesanddelusional and violent, the creature gets stronger It s worth noting, too, that he is not necessarily a reliable narrator The real life man s mercurial temper is portrayed quite accurately here, as well as his remarkable ability to shift blame onto whoever is most convenient Towards the end of the book he is far, far adrift from reality he speaks of Tom Culpepper and Kate Howard as if he were their peer, and while it s obvious to the reader why teenaged Katherine preferred handsome young Tom to her corpulent, gouty old husband, it comes as a terrible shock to Hal, implying that he usually sees his trim younger self when he looks in the mirror.This novel is as sad as it is thrilling Castor says that the question that led to this book was How could such a good kid turn into the monster history remembers I paraphrase And indeed, the reader watches Henry transform from a brilliant lad who just wants to prove himself to his wretched father and save his brother s pretty widow, to an egomaniac obsessed with empire, projecting his delusional schemes onto his own puny son, who has no hope of fulfilling them The real tragedy of Henry is his wasted potential He wanted England to be the greatest empire since Rome, and a cultural center to rival de Medici Florence in its heyday.Ironically, his goals were realized not by himself, nor by sickly Edward, but Elizabeth, the precocious daughter of Anne Boleyn, and the one child whom Henry never bonded with Fast paced, engrossing, historically accurate, devoid of the sex and gore so common to Tudor fiction, and with an innovative perspective, VIII is a great read for all history lovers 12 and up P.S The cover model should really have red hair, but that s a nitpick

  2. Kirsty Kirsty says:

    If I had to think of how to sell this book I would describe it as being along the lines of the Tudor TV series but toned down to besuitable for a YA audience I enjoyed every page and thought it was a prime example of how YA historical fiction should be written.I do get quite a bee in my bonnet whe it comes to YA historical fiction I get sent a lot of it for review because I am a history teacher and I have found of late that some of the stuff out there is just too weighty and too boring t If I had to think of how to sell this book I would describe it as being along the lines of the Tudor TV series but toned down to besuitable for a YA audience I enjoyed every page and thought it was a prime example of how YA historical fiction should be written.I do get quite a bee in my bonnet whe it comes to YA historical fiction I get sent a lot of it for review because I am a history teacher and I have found of late that some of the stuff out there is just too weighty and too boring to engage youngsters especially things written about historical events pre 19th century What I loved about VIII is that it the author seems to know the age range she is writing for which always helps and uses story telling in an engaging and effective manner to put across historical events in a way which would be entertaining for teens.The first thing I liked about the book is that it gave the reader a real sense of historical period and what it would have been like for the main characters to live through the time period without overburdening the reader with lots and lots of tiny and somewhat irrelevant details which can get dull quickly.If you ask any child to tell you something about Henry VIII they will say one of two things he was very fat or he had lots of wives which really only scratches the surface I loved how this book looksbroadly at Henry s life as a whole and considers indetail his earlier life when he was this gorgeous all powerful ruler I also liked the sections where it looked in detail at Henry s younger life before he became 1st in line to the throne and showed how he was treated by his family because of this Yes this book does go through Henry s wives and yes he does become fat but that isn t the sole focus of this book which is what I liked and the reason why I made the comparison The Tudors TV series as it is the only other thing I can think of that has also given abroad view of Henry s life rather than thenarrow interpretations which are usually given.Another reason why I liked this book and thought it would be engaging for teens is that it really did capture the drama of the period with all the political intrigue that would have surrounded Henry as he threw his weight around trying to get his own way in areas such as his marriages and religion, when trying to wage wars with France and at home in the way he ruled his country in the ruthless manner he did.Definitely a book I would highly recommend both as blogger and a history teacher A brilliant example of how Historical Fiction can be used to engage people with historical events and personalities

  3. Christie Christie says:

    I m still half asleep when I feel strong hands grabbing me. We all know the story of Henry VIII, the man who left a string of ruined women in his wake in his quest for a son, the huge man staring out from the famous portrait, the man who caused Britain to be torn apart in religious conflict to divorce his wife But at one point, that man was a boy A boy who was never supposed to be king, a boy who only wanted to be a knight, a boy who loved his mother What happened to that boy to turn him i I m still half asleep when I feel strong hands grabbing me. We all know the story of Henry VIII, the man who left a string of ruined women in his wake in his quest for a son, the huge man staring out from the famous portrait, the man who caused Britain to be torn apart in religious conflict to divorce his wife But at one point, that man was a boy A boy who was never supposed to be king, a boy who only wanted to be a knight, a boy who loved his mother What happened to that boy to turn him into the man known to history I would give the first half of the book 4 stars and the second half of the book 2 stars so I split the difference and gave it 3 stars The first part was great It was awesome seeing Henry as he might have been as a boy It was very easy to see how he became the tyrant he was believed to be The early relationship between Henry and Catherine was very intriguing and I really found myself rooting for them even knowing how their story ends The supernatural element was very intriguing and a bit terrifying.Sadly, the second half of the book was disappointing I did not know the book was going to cover Henry s life to the bitter end, but it did and that is quite an undertaking for a 400 page book As a result, the last part of the book was very rushed and disjointed probably trying to illustrate Henry s dissent into madness, which incidentally was not explained all that well The supernatural part was still there, but again with not nearly the explanation I would want The narrative did not seem well connected, the Henry in the 2nd half seemed completely different from the Henry of the first half I would have loved some years in the chapter headers especially since sometimes years would pass between one chapter and the other Its weird that occasionally a chapter would begin with 3 years later or something, but most would give you no context at all.I liked the book well enough but I don t know if it would appeal to teens, especially with the rushed 2nd half I think I would have liked it better if it ended when he became king and then had an epilogue alluding to what happened next It was an interesting book and I would have loved if the supernatural element had been a bit stronger I would recommend the book to those interested in Henry VIII, just know that some parts are a little frustrating Scavenger hunt ghost

  4. Ryn Lewis Ryn Lewis says:

    Young Hal is the spare son, unnoticed, unloved and unnecessary beside his elder brother Arthur, who will someday be the king Yet Hal is robust and charismatic, charming people and attracting attention wherever he goes When as a young boy, he hears a prophecy that states York will be King, he is certain he has found his destiny So begins H.M Castor s tale of Henry VIII from his innocent boyhood through his rise to power and his passion for two things an Empire and sons Through intensive res Young Hal is the spare son, unnoticed, unloved and unnecessary beside his elder brother Arthur, who will someday be the king Yet Hal is robust and charismatic, charming people and attracting attention wherever he goes When as a young boy, he hears a prophecy that states York will be King, he is certain he has found his destiny So begins H.M Castor s tale of Henry VIII from his innocent boyhood through his rise to power and his passion for two things an Empire and sons Through intensive research and careful crafting, Castor creates a believable and sympathetic young Henry and follows him through his kingship and into his degeneration into the infamous ruler the world now remembers.Above all, the story is well researched Castor s lifelong personal fascination with Henry VIII has allowed her to wrestle with the difficult questions of how a bright and energetic young man could become a paranoid, despotic tyrant Castor handles this story with sensitivity and believability, including a suggestion of spectral madness that adds the mildest thrill of horror to this historic tale A must read for fans of Tudor history and a strong addition to any historical fiction collection

  5. Diane Diane says:

    I guess a lot of readers are fascinated by the Tudor family, myself included This is a great way to get an insider view of the dramatic sixteenth century in England, when one man s megalomania changed history Castor starts with Henry in his youth, when he was a handsome, skilled warrior, frustrated in his role as the second son Henry believes fervently that he is destined to rule as one of England s greatest kings At seventeen years old, he gets his chance.The focus on his youth, filled with I guess a lot of readers are fascinated by the Tudor family, myself included This is a great way to get an insider view of the dramatic sixteenth century in England, when one man s megalomania changed history Castor starts with Henry in his youth, when he was a handsome, skilled warrior, frustrated in his role as the second son Henry believes fervently that he is destined to rule as one of England s greatest kings At seventeen years old, he gets his chance.The focus on his youth, filled with jousting and jovial friendships, is fresh Castor establishes a character basis for Henry s later outrages, such as his break with the Catholic Church and his infamous six marriages There is just enough detail to really educated young readers without getting bogged down Castor says that her next book will focus on the rules of Henry VII s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth Lotsintrigue ahead

  6. Natalie Natalie says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book,not only for the wonderfully woven story but also for all it taught me of a period of history that I love The story was so accessible and the characters so well drawn The visions Henry kept seeing gave the book a real sinister and spine tingling tone which really captured the imagination A real page turner that I really didn t want to put down a fabulous read

  7. Melody Melody says:

    I got this book free at ALA Midwinter.I have to say that I whipsawed back and forth and back again with this book When I first picked it up I was giddy, elated, crazy to have it in my hand I m a bit of a Tudor fan, you see, and this sounded so wonderful I could hardly wait to get home and crack it open Then I started it and it was first person Present tense Really Ack I m going to hate this book, I think But there was Elizabeth of York And that precious boy, talking in a voice that I got this book free at ALA Midwinter.I have to say that I whipsawed back and forth and back again with this book When I first picked it up I was giddy, elated, crazy to have it in my hand I m a bit of a Tudor fan, you see, and this sounded so wonderful I could hardly wait to get home and crack it open Then I started it and it was first person Present tense Really Ack I m going to hate this book, I think But there was Elizabeth of York And that precious boy, talking in a voice that rang true Okay, maybe it will be all right after all Then there were view spoiler GHOSTS Are you kidding me with the ghost of the princes in the Tower hide spoiler and I thought oh, I hate this book.But there was Catherine, complex and interesting followed by Anne, evencomplex and interesting And poor Jane, ahh, poor sweet Jane And so on The view spoiler ghosts hide spoiler continued to reappear, but after Anne they started to almost make sense The last half of the book went like a whirlwind, which some reviewers have taken issue with I suspect they are young readers, though, because from where I sit, I can state with full authority that the last half of all our books goes like a whirlwind Ultimately, despite the see spoilers, above and the pacing and the present tense, I loved this book Historically accurate yet fantastically imagined, I recommend it to Tudor fans of every age

  8. Kristin Taggart Kristin Taggart says:

    I don t use star ratings, so please read my review Description nicked from B N.com Hal is a young man of extraordinary talents, astonishing warrior skills, sharp intelligence, and a fierce sense of honor and virtue He believes he is destined for greatness His father wishes he would disappear Haunted by the ghosts of his family s violent past, Hal embarks on a journey that leads him to absolute power and brings him face to face with his demons I have an odd fascination with British history I don t use star ratings, so please read my review Description nicked from BN.com Hal is a young man of extraordinary talents, astonishing warrior skills, sharp intelligence, and a fierce sense of honor and virtue He believes he is destined for greatness His father wishes he would disappear Haunted by the ghosts of his family s violent past, Hal embarks on a journey that leads him to absolute power and brings him face to face with his demons I have an odd fascination with British history, and especially with the Tudor era So much was changing in the world at that time that much of the historical record reads like the most fantastical novel you could ever hope to pick up Unfortunately, there are a lot of gaps in our knowledge where documentation is slim or nonexistent One of those periods is the childhood of King Henry VIII Never meant for the throne, he was forced into the role of ruler due to the death of his older brother Arthur.I ve read many novels about this time period, most notably ones by Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir Most of what I ve read has also focused on the women, so outside of the non fiction that I ve also read, I didn t ever get a feel for what we do know about Henry s early years Castor attempts to imagine some of those details, extrapolating from what we do know, and also tries to account for how a shining paragon of English royalty turned into the tyrant that we all know and love to hate.The author s success at this endeavor is mixed, to say the least Castor set herself a hard task show Henry as a bright, intelligent child and get us to care about him despite what we know he will do, and then show his descent without losing the characterization that she already set up In this, she succeeds Henry as a boy is shaped by those around him and by the circumstances in which he finds himself Castor takes an interesting tack in painting Henry VII as a cruel and domineering father, and although there s no evidence of this historically, it does play pretty well into Henry s character makeup.The author also excels at giving readers a sense of the world as it existed in the late 1400s to mid 1500s The author has obviously done a ton of research, and even state in an author s note that just about everything she described in the novel was found in the inventory of Henry s possessions at his time of death Knowing that lends a strong air of historical reality to the narrative.What I didn t think worked all that well was the pacing Henry s life before his father s death takes up just a few pages shy of half the book Another 120 pages cover from his coronation to his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon His tempestuous marriage to Anne Boleyn lasts for around 50 pages The final 52 pages cover his last four wives and his death By the end, the author is omitting major chunks of time, and wives three through six are hardly mentioned.The greater missed opportunity here lies in what the author said was her goal to not only explore Henry s younger years, but to show his progression from favored youth to cruel dictator And if you know anything about history, you know that it s not just his treatment of his wives in which he shows his colors Castor missed some golden opportunities to delve into his general callousness The executions of Bishop Fisher and Thomas More only get a brief mention, and yet they shook the world when they happened The Pilgrimage of Grace, the Northern rebellion in which Henry promised to pardon the participants and then executed the leaders, isn t even mentioned specifically just a few words about the north being filled with rebellion that needs to be constantly put down Henry s cruelty cut across all aspects of life, and confining it to his treatment of his wives is, in my opinion, too narrow.I could have done without the supernatural element, because it wasn t handled very well From a young age, Henry sees visions of a boy with straw colored hair who is often crying with pain and obviously suffering Henry continues to see this specter throughout his life, usually right before some of his most traumatic losses Its first appearance is in the Tower of London, where young Henry has just found out about the Princes in the Tower , the young princes who were imprisoned there and vanished, presumably murdered The story sort of leads you to believe that the apparition is one of the princes, but that doesn t turn out to be the case Since the author said that she wanted to show how Henry was haunted by the demons of his family s past, the way things play out didn t make sense to me.There was a lot to like in this novel, especially the attention to historical detail I did, however, feel that the author could have tightened her pacing and really explored Henry s character He s a deliciously cruel, terribly controlling man, and his actions form a tale that could give a sensitive reader nightmares I went through this book in a single day, but I kept having the nagging feeling that it could have reached even higher VIII might be a good introduction to Henry s character, but the meat of his reign is ignored.This review originally appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 3, 2013.http www.owlcatmountain.com viii

  9. Kara Kara says:

    Castor takes the currently popular theory that Henry VIII was insane and runs with it to tell Henry s whole life for Henry s own POV.What is here is good put overall it feels as though it is missing some pieces The story skips over a few significant parts of his story in order to cram all 55 crazy years in there On the one hand, it makes sense towards the end as he really starts to go over the deep end, but on the other hand, it feels rushed and again, like parts were left out.What was good Castor takes the currently popular theory that Henry VIII was insane and runs with it to tell Henry s whole life for Henry s own POV.What is here is good put overall it feels as though it is missing some pieces The story skips over a few significant parts of his story in order to cram all 55 crazy years in there On the one hand, it makes sense towards the end as he really starts to go over the deep end, but on the other hand, it feels rushed and again, like parts were left out.What was good was showing Henry was very much of his time when people were always on the lookout for signs of God s favor or displeasure and it becomes understandable, from Henry logic, at least, why he was so convinced he and God where so tight.Throughout the story Henry is haunted by a vision that serves as a thick highlight of his madness, but it really could have been fleshed outIt was annoying to be left with that same but what does it mean feeling like when you finish watching Lost So, overall, a fresh new take on the life of Henry VIII, but could have used a fewchapters, especially at the beginning during young Henry s formative years

  10. aprille aprille says:

    I wandered into Big W tonight, with 20 minutes to find a book After wading through the miles of wasted paper in their book section, I came up with this Dear Big W,YA fiction does not automatically mean paranormal romance.Sincerely,I want to read something GOOD.Finally I found VIII which, I ve now figured out, is the number 8 I picked it up, read the blurb, flicked open a few pages and decided to buy it.I m glad I did I really enjoyed this book I finished this in a few hours, accompanied I wandered into Big W tonight, with 20 minutes to find a book After wading through the miles of wasted paper in their book section, I came up with this Dear Big W,YA fiction does not automatically mean paranormal romance.Sincerely,I want to read something GOOD.Finally I found VIII which, I ve now figured out, is the number 8 I picked it up, read the blurb, flicked open a few pages and decided to buy it.I m glad I did I really enjoyed this book I finished this in a few hours, accompanied by a beer and chinese food VIII follows the story of Henry VIII, and documents his decent into madness The story begins with him as a small child, and the author managed to convey the voice of a child through first person, which I always feel is an achievement.From there, we follow him through adult hood, and the changes he has to grow accustomed to I won t give too much away, but you really do feel as though you re right there with him.Meticulously researched and well written, I recommend this book to anyone thinking of reading it

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