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The King's Witch

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In March of 1603, as she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth of England, Frances Gorges dreams of her parents’ country estate, where she has learned to use flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer. She is happy to stay at home when King James of Scotland succeeds to the throne. His court may be shockingly decadent, but his intolerant Puritanism sees witchcraft In March of 1603, as she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth of England, Frances Gorges dreams of her parents’ country estate, where she has learned to use flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer. She is happy to stay at home when King James of Scotland succeeds to the throne. His court may be shockingly decadent, but his intolerant Puritanism sees witchcraft in many of the old customs—punishable by death. But when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to the royal palace, she is a ready target for the twisted scheming of the Privy Seal, Lord Cecil. As a dark campaign to destroy both King and Parliament gathers pace, culminating in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Frances is surrounded by danger, finding happiness only with the King’s precocious young daughter, and with Tom Wintour, the one courtier she feels she can trust. But is he all that he seems? Acclaimed as a brilliant historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.


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In March of 1603, as she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth of England, Frances Gorges dreams of her parents’ country estate, where she has learned to use flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer. She is happy to stay at home when King James of Scotland succeeds to the throne. His court may be shockingly decadent, but his intolerant Puritanism sees witchcraft In March of 1603, as she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth of England, Frances Gorges dreams of her parents’ country estate, where she has learned to use flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer. She is happy to stay at home when King James of Scotland succeeds to the throne. His court may be shockingly decadent, but his intolerant Puritanism sees witchcraft in many of the old customs—punishable by death. But when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to the royal palace, she is a ready target for the twisted scheming of the Privy Seal, Lord Cecil. As a dark campaign to destroy both King and Parliament gathers pace, culminating in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Frances is surrounded by danger, finding happiness only with the King’s precocious young daughter, and with Tom Wintour, the one courtier she feels she can trust. But is he all that he seems? Acclaimed as a brilliant historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.

30 review for The King's Witch

  1. 3 out of 5

    Adina

    Tracy Borman is already an accomplished historian. The challenge with her first novel was to prove that she can also be a good writer of fiction. In my opinion, she did a wonderful job on that account. Frances Gorges is a young noble women living in 1603 England. She is allowed by her loving parents to grow as an independent woman and to cultivate her skills as a healer. She was taught the wonders of herbs by the pastor of her hometown, Longford and she used her talents to help the ones that were Tracy Borman is already an accomplished historian. The challenge with her first novel was to prove that she can also be a good writer of fiction. In my opinion, she did a wonderful job on that account. Frances Gorges is a young noble women living in 1603 England. She is allowed by her loving parents to grow as an independent woman and to cultivate her skills as a healer. She was taught the wonders of herbs by the pastor of her hometown, Longford and she used her talents to help the ones that were in need. Her family was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and she aided the old Queen to die peacefully. However, when the new king, James I (VI), comes to the throne he does not share the same warm feelings for the Gorges family and does not appreciate Frances skills. You see, the kind was obsessed with religion and witch hunting. Back in those days, a woman healer could easily be considered a witch under the right circumstances. In order to be safe, Frances retreats from the court to her family’s castle but she is forced to come back by her uncle who secures her a spot as the 8 years old princess’ wet-nurse. From the moment she steps into the court she is closely supervised by The Lord Privy Seal, a terrible man, who wants to use her in order to secure his position with the king. Life at court is not pleasant. The king, contrary to his religious fervor, prefers hunting and young boys to the court responsibilities and the company of his Royal family. He hates the Catholics and does not do anything to protect the. He is obsessed with treason and thinks there are plots at every corner. And he is right. The novel is woven around the Gunpowder plot made by closet Catholics aiming to kill the Protestant king and crown his daughter as Queen and secure her support for their religion. Among all the court intrigues and plotting there is also a beautiful love story between Frances and one of the traitors, Thomas Wintour. I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. I did not know much about the time period or the Gunpowder plot and it gave me the perfect opportunity to learn more. I could see that the author knows history well but she did not exaggerate with the details in the detriment of the plot. I believe the two were very well balanced and the pacing was appropriate. Obviously, as it is written around real events the suspense is not as exciting as a purely fictional account. As I checked the details of the plot on Wikipedia I already knew how everything was going to unravel so there wasn’t a lot of tension in the end. I recommend the reader to check the facts after they finish the story to better enjoy the 2nd part of the novel. The love story was tender and not overwhelming, a nice addition to the plot. All in all, an enjoyable and informative historical fiction from an author I want to read more of her books. Many thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Netgalley #31 Many thanks to Tracy Borman, Atlantic Monthly Press, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. This was not the best historical fiction I've ever read, but it certainly wasn't the worst. What may have improved my opinion would have been an included author's note to explain who and what was based on fact and what was fiction. Those pages are imperative to me. I know the Gorges family did exist, but I know nothing about them. I still feel like I d Netgalley #31 Many thanks to Tracy Borman, Atlantic Monthly Press, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. This was not the best historical fiction I've ever read, but it certainly wasn't the worst. What may have improved my opinion would have been an included author's note to explain who and what was based on fact and what was fiction. Those pages are imperative to me. I know the Gorges family did exist, but I know nothing about them. I still feel like I don't because I don't trust what I read. The profile of Robert Cecil seemed spot on though. He was ruthless. And King James I was known as an avid witch hunter. So I know those parts are based on fact. Otherwise I have chosen to take everything else as complete fiction.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bookish Ally

    4.25 stars for this lovely book. I enjoy a piece of historical fiction that can shine a new light, and a different view upon a well known historical person while also creating an engaging story around those of lesser fame. I feel as though I must keep this brief to avoid spoilers, but I will say that this presents an excellent contrast to some of the books you may read about the Jacobean court. Written with sympathy of the queen, Anne of Denmark, our protagonist and lead character is Frances Gor 4.25 stars for this lovely book. I enjoy a piece of historical fiction that can shine a new light, and a different view upon a well known historical person while also creating an engaging story around those of lesser fame. I feel as though I must keep this brief to avoid spoilers, but I will say that this presents an excellent contrast to some of the books you may read about the Jacobean court. Written with sympathy of the queen, Anne of Denmark, our protagonist and lead character is Frances Gorges, an herbalist (not a good time to be a woman interested in the garden) from an old noble family. Very delighted by this author and I’m looking forward to her promised sequel as we continue to follow the life of the very likable Lady Frances.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan Johnson

    3.5 stars I am glad I stuck with this book after its very slow start. It finally picked up and told a very interesting story about Frances Gorges, a young Lady in Queen Elizabeth's service and skilled in healing and herbs. After the Queen's death, she is employed as an attendant to the new King James' 8 year old daughter, Elizabeth. The Lord of the Privacy Seal, Cecil, has taken a dislike to Frances for some reason that I am unclear about. He employs spies and harasses her beyond common sense. D 3.5 stars I am glad I stuck with this book after its very slow start. It finally picked up and told a very interesting story about Frances Gorges, a young Lady in Queen Elizabeth's service and skilled in healing and herbs. After the Queen's death, she is employed as an attendant to the new King James' 8 year old daughter, Elizabeth. The Lord of the Privacy Seal, Cecil, has taken a dislike to Frances for some reason that I am unclear about. He employs spies and harasses her beyond common sense. Does he have nothing better to do than to pick on the princess's maid? She gets into severe trouble and miraculously survives. Her herbal skills save the princess life and, thus, her own. She gets involved in the Guy Fawkes Plot which I did not even realize was that until I was 3/4 the way through. I knew it was a plot but who knew it was that one? After all, there were many against the King who loathed Catholics and did away with many of the freedoms they had under Queen Elizabeth's rule. The author presumes the reader knows more about the history of James I than I do and is not particularly good about giving helpful background. I had questions. I had no idea that James was supposedly homosexual. It was just laid out there. I had no preparation that it was the famous plot. I had no idea that palace entertainment included people coupling in front of everyone. What was the matter with James' son, Charles? I wish there had been more historical information and not presume the reader was an expert of the times. I realized I knew a lot about the Tudors and next to nothing about the Stuarts. I did some research on Princess Elizabeth and think she lived an interesting life. I'd like to read more about her and after a rocky start, I will come back to discover what happens to Frances. This is the first book of a planned trilogy and I am looking forward to the next one. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    How I loved this! A stunning account of life at the court of James I in the years immediately following the death of Elizabeth I. She was a hard act to follow and this James I definitely struggles. Lady Frances Gorges is a fascinating, little-known figure and I loved how Tracy Borman interprets her story, mixing fact with the possible, making her both likeable and complex. There is far more to this novel than the witch angle suggested by the title. This will be one of my favourite historical nov How I loved this! A stunning account of life at the court of James I in the years immediately following the death of Elizabeth I. She was a hard act to follow and this James I definitely struggles. Lady Frances Gorges is a fascinating, little-known figure and I loved how Tracy Borman interprets her story, mixing fact with the possible, making her both likeable and complex. There is far more to this novel than the witch angle suggested by the title. This will be one of my favourite historical novels of the year for sure. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  6. 3 out of 5

    Stephen

    thanks to netgalley and publishers for a free copy in return for a honest view interesting historical novel starting at the end of Elizabeth I reign and the start of Charles stuart as Charles I with moving around the court and friction between new monarchs and catholics and a witchcraft, the author manages to weave in the gunpowder plot too in this novel but only as a backdrop

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    I agree with this statement 100% - “Acclaimed as a brilliant historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.” Brief history: King James VI of Scotland, after the death of Elizabeth I, becomes also King James I of England and Ireland, becoming the first monarch to be called the King of Great Britain. This story begins with his reign of England in 1603 as the first monarch of the House of Stuart. His reign is marked with witch-hunting and prosecu I agree with this statement 100% - “Acclaimed as a brilliant historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.” Brief history: King James VI of Scotland, after the death of Elizabeth I, becomes also King James I of England and Ireland, becoming the first monarch to be called the King of Great Britain. This story begins with his reign of England in 1603 as the first monarch of the House of Stuart. His reign is marked with witch-hunting and prosecuting Catholics, and the latter leads to the Gunpowder Plot – conspiracy to assassinate him. Frances Gorges, fictional character, of noble birth, at the English court helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth. Her journey, as an herbalist tending to sick, begins with encouragement of Revered Samuels. “His skill at healing was renowned…” He teaches her about the herbs and its healing powers. Her eagerness to learn about herbs comes very naturally and takes her on an extraordinary journey, attending to sick already at the age of eleven. With the passing of Queen Elizabeth and Reverend Samuels, new King James chooses a new priest, Reverend Pritchard. His first sermon already marks a change in attitude, hellfire preaching against the art of healing “to foster suspicion and fear among his flock.” As King James “declares a war on witches,” chief minister, Robert Cecil, “drafts a new Act against witchcraft.” After a year break from the court, Frances is forced by her uncle to return to the court. She prefers free spirited fields of flowers over congested city life and to be confided to specific quarters. However, what surprises her at the new court is the new Queen, Danish princess. Frances now feels curious to see her new sovereign to rule England. With the new royals, there is also a new encounter. His name is Tom Wintour. Meanwhile Lord Cecil is committed to the cause of witch-hunting, also by employing William Shakespeare to create a play reflecting current political situation. Soon Frances learns that the King is not only after witchcraft, but also after Catholics, prosecuting them and banishing Catholic priests from the kingdom. The love nuance is so heart-touching. This intriguing fictional heroine of strong character is pursued by a historical figure Tom – educated, smart, of strong character who stands up for what he believes in. This heart-warming love intertwined with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 ends Book I. And for those who know the fate of Tom Wintour, you can guess how this book ends. I applaud authors who revive such historical figures as Thomas Wintour. Not a well-known name to most of us resurfaces in history in present time in this stunning story. The author perfectly balances history with conveying messages. It is rich in historical details, but not to a point to overwhelm a reader. The author takes time to convey a message, but not for too long in order not to lose the reader’s interest. This is one of those books that I like to take my time to read it and immerse myself in the pages of history with characters full of depth. Beautifully written as it is custom to the land of Shakespeare, the combination of language, the subject of natural healing using herbs and the passion of the heroine for the art of healing brings a spellbinding story rich in historical period. @Facebook/BestHistoricalFiction

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    5 stars Frances Gorges is a young woman of gentle birth who, along with her mother, attended Queen Elizabeth I at the time of her death in 1603. Tending to her with herbs and potions, she made the Queen’s passing a little easier. King James I (and VI of Scotland), is on his way to London to take over the reins of the country. Interestingly enough, he was the first to be called King of Great Britain. He is noted for his intolerance of those he calls “witches” (and Catholics). So too is the Privy S 5 stars Frances Gorges is a young woman of gentle birth who, along with her mother, attended Queen Elizabeth I at the time of her death in 1603. Tending to her with herbs and potions, she made the Queen’s passing a little easier. King James I (and VI of Scotland), is on his way to London to take over the reins of the country. Interestingly enough, he was the first to be called King of Great Britain. He is noted for his intolerance of those he calls “witches” (and Catholics). So too is the Privy Seal, Lord Cecil. And the new Reverend Pritchard at Frances’ local church first sermon is on the dangers of witchcraft in their very community. Not a very auspicious beginning to say the least. Frances’ healing talents were fostered by the now deceased Reverend Samuels, whose replacement is Pritchard. Frances has a natural ability and instinct for healing. But, it has now put her into danger from the new King and clergy. Following the death of the Queen, Frances is able to stay at the family’s country estate, away from the intrigue of the court. But after a year of this bliss, he “uncle” drags her to London and back to court. She is beset by fear and makes friends only rarely. She makes friends with the King’s daughter. She is both a lively and likeable child. Another person she meets is the real historical figure of Tom Wintour. Those familiar with that era of history will recognize his name as one of the co-conspirators in the infamous Gunpowder Plot. This was an attempt to assassinate King James I by a group of Catholics. Frances is unsure about Tom. As her affection for Tom grows, Frances is not sure if she should trust him altogether or not? This is a very well written and plotted novel. I’ve read a number of Ms. Borman’s other books, and I believe this is the first time she has turned her hand to an (almost) complete work of fiction. The novel reads linearly, that is to say in a straight line. One event follows another. The characters are likeable and completely believable. The addition of a mild love interest for Frances is a nice addition to the story. I want to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press for forwarding to me a copy of this remarkably well written and enchanting book for me to read and enjoy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Exciting and fearful times! The cut and thrust of politics and religion during Tudor times and on into the early 1600's reign of King James of Scotland, leaves the gap between trust and mistrust frighteningly narrow. The removal of women healers as witches from villages and elsewhere during this time was harrowing. Purges throughout history in the name of religion, powered by fanatics have dogged humanity. The King's Witch touches on the dichotomy between James 1's personal life and his actions t Exciting and fearful times! The cut and thrust of politics and religion during Tudor times and on into the early 1600's reign of King James of Scotland, leaves the gap between trust and mistrust frighteningly narrow. The removal of women healers as witches from villages and elsewhere during this time was harrowing. Purges throughout history in the name of religion, powered by fanatics have dogged humanity. The King's Witch touches on the dichotomy between James 1's personal life and his actions towards the general populace, spurred on by his fears of witchcraft and papists. A well researched, historical novel that pulls the reader instantly into the action. The story of Lady Frances Gorges, daughter to the Marchioness of Northampton and Sir Thomas Gorges, a talented healer taken by her outrageous dukely uncle to the new court of James I, after Elizabeth 1's death is harrowing. It thrusts the reader immediately into the dangers of that world. James issues proclamations against healers, spurred on by the insidious Privy Seal, Lord Cecil. With Frances, I cringed with fear as she tried to negotiate the rocky ,dangerous shores of a decadent court. Papists who'd once reached accommodation with Elizabeth were back to the days of Queen Mary. James' fear of witchcraft and Catholicism cuts a swathe through his subjects. Frances becomes fearful for her life and the lives of her loved ones as plots are hatched. And then there's the young courtier who befriended her, Tom Wintour. A man she comes to admire. A man who has his own beliefs and follows them. Borman's descriptive prose drew me into the dangers of the time, and into the grist of Frances' life, as dangerous subterfuges make her safety even more uncertain. A NetGalley ARC

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily Grace

    Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! ‘Ah, but such great ladies have always found ways to trick their husbands into believing that they are compliant, when all the while it is they who wield all the power.’ Set in 1603 England, in the time of restoration after the death of Queen Elizabeth and the beginning of the rule of King James, a cruel, fear-ridden and impetuous man. In this time the court, under the direction of King James, saw Catholics as th Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! ‘Ah, but such great ladies have always found ways to trick their husbands into believing that they are compliant, when all the while it is they who wield all the power.’ Set in 1603 England, in the time of restoration after the death of Queen Elizabeth and the beginning of the rule of King James, a cruel, fear-ridden and impetuous man. In this time the court, under the direction of King James, saw Catholics as the enemy and witches as a very real and terrible danger. Here we meet Frances Gorges, a young lady for whom this time presents great peril, seeing as she has all the traits of a witch; unmarried, outspoken and a great aptitude in healing. Frances can only hope to stay far from court in the safe confines of her family's estate where she can spend her time gathering plants in the adjacent forest and help the lives of the villagers. Unfortunately for Frances she has no say when she is unwillingly whisked away by her distantly-related Uncle, the scheming and uncaring head of family who sees in Frances his own advancement at court, leaving Frances in the exact position she was trying to avoid. This novel was written by a historian and you can tell, for better and for worse. The history surrounding this book was by far my favorite part. Reading about this tumultuous time was both suspenseful and fascinating. This historically accurate novel was also able to paint a painful portrait of women in court at the time which created a real sense of claustrophobia and lack of agency that isn't always associated with those of high social standing. I liked reading about Frances as a vehicle for describing women of this era. I also quite enjoyed the romance-aspect of the book, despite not lingering on it overly-long, I thought it was charming and looked forward to the parts where it was included. The writing itself isn't particularly descriptive which occasionally left me feeling like the physical setting was foggy, not quite being able to make out the details. I think this lack of description also came in to play with character building. Despite really enjoying Frances as an example for women of her time I didn't really feel a connection with her. Perhaps this is just the other side of the same coin. As someone who loves atmospheric novels I felt that this one could have used a wee bit more description to fully illustrate the setting. I think Tracy Borman did a great job drawing me into the history and was able to keep my attention the whole time so I do plan on continuing with the series when the next book comes out.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    An enthralling peek behind the curtain at the time of James of Scotland who succeeded Queen Elizabeth. We see not only James, but his entire family through the eyes of a member of the aristocracy close to the throne who discovers there are far more secrets being kept than she ever imagined. An engrossing read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Younkin

    Lady Frances Gorges and her mother have served Queen's Elizabeth I, not only as members of the court but as ladies-in-waiting providing herbal remedies for the Queen's ailments. As the Queen lays dying, Frances worries what the future holds. She isn't being overly sensitive because she has attracted the negative attention of Robert Cecil, the Queen's chief advisor. Cecil is anxious to secure his power and control in the new regime, that of James I. James who is a notorious witch-hunter (healers Lady Frances Gorges and her mother have served Queen's Elizabeth I, not only as members of the court but as ladies-in-waiting providing herbal remedies for the Queen's ailments. As the Queen lays dying, Frances worries what the future holds. She isn't being overly sensitive because she has attracted the negative attention of Robert Cecil, the Queen's chief advisor. Cecil is anxious to secure his power and control in the new regime, that of James I. James who is a notorious witch-hunter (healers and herbalists included) and anti-papist brings a ruthless desire to destroy threats to his rule. When she is ordered to attend the new court by her uncle, Frances receives the friendship of an unexpected ally, the Queen Consort, Anne. Frances must carefully navigate the court learning that she can rely on no one but herself and that enemies are everywhere. There is a possible exception in the mysterious Tom Wintour, a lawyer she would like to trust but isn't sure where his allegiances lay. Tracy Borman's historical novel conveys a sense of how fickle courtiers behaved in the atmosphere of unrelenting intrigue surrounding James I. James was particularly ruthless, sending enemies to the Tower or worse, much worse. With Frances, Borman covers the Guy Fawkes plot through the eyes of a fearful young woman. Borman capture's the charms and dangers of being part of the English court. Her story is woven with sumptuous details but does not sacrifice the drama. Borman chose a real person in the heroine of Lady Frances Gorges about whom little is known which allows the author latitude in telling her story. A few of the characters make an appearance and then disappear (in particular Lady Frances' sisters.) Hopefully, their fates will be revealed in a future book. Borman writes with authority about the age and doesn't resort to overdone dialect. Her story is straight-forward, well-written and grounded in historical accuracy. I highly recommend this book, (the first of a trilogy) to readers of historical fiction and English history.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carmina Valdizán

    Don’t let the title of this book fool you, this book is not about witchcraft, is about intrigues, politics and conspirators. Masterfully portraits how the accusations of witchcraft were used against innocent women for social and political reasons, it also describes the torture’s and humiliations these women have to endure in the hands of the authorities in order to obtain the confessions. Many like witches in books because of the supernatural powers, but that is fantasy, this book is about how w Don’t let the title of this book fool you, this book is not about witchcraft, is about intrigues, politics and conspirators. Masterfully portraits how the accusations of witchcraft were used against innocent women for social and political reasons, it also describes the torture’s and humiliations these women have to endure in the hands of the authorities in order to obtain the confessions. Many like witches in books because of the supernatural powers, but that is fantasy, this book is about how women healers were perceived and judged. Read the book in one sitting and love it, it has all the elements I enjoy in a good historical fiction novel. Some might complain that doesn't give you much historical background or detailed descriptions, but that’s what I love about the book, the book awakened my curiosity and my thirst for knowledge. If the book have given me all the information, it would have read like a history book instead of an historical fiction novel. I was especially intrigued about Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, how he gained power and how the Gunpowder Plot was discovered. I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many Thanks to Grove Atlantic, Atlantic Monthly Press, Tracy Borman and Netgalley for the opportunity.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Jo

    Frances Gorges and her mother attended Elizabeth I in her dying days, asked for by the queen because Frances knew how to use herbs for healing. When James I takes the English throne, she has to hide her knowledge because James wants to burn witches. Borman's credentials as an historian shine through in this brilliantly written novel as we're drawn into a tale of courtly intrigue, traitors and the Gunpowder Plot.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan Johnson

    3.5 stars I am glad I stuck with this book after its very slow start. It finally picked up and told a very interesting story about Frances Gorges, a young Lady in Queen Elizabeth's service and skilled in healing and herbs. After the Queen's death, she is employed as an attendant to the new King James' 8 year old daughter, Elizabeth. The Lord of the Privacy Seal, Cecil, has taken a dislike to Frances for some reason that I am unclear about. He employs spies and harasses her beyond common sense. D 3.5 stars I am glad I stuck with this book after its very slow start. It finally picked up and told a very interesting story about Frances Gorges, a young Lady in Queen Elizabeth's service and skilled in healing and herbs. After the Queen's death, she is employed as an attendant to the new King James' 8 year old daughter, Elizabeth. The Lord of the Privacy Seal, Cecil, has taken a dislike to Frances for some reason that I am unclear about. He employs spies and harasses her beyond common sense. Does he have nothing better to do than to pick on the princess's maid? She gets into severe trouble and miraculously survives. Her herbal skills save the princess life and, thus, her own. She gets involved in the Guy Fawkes Plot which I did not even realize was that until I was 3/4 the way through. I knew it was a plot but who knew it was that one? After all, there were many against the King who loathed Catholics and did away with many of the freedoms they had under Queen Elizabeth's rule. The author presumes the reader knows more about the history of James I than I do and is not particularly good about giving helpful background. I had questions. I had no idea that James was supposedly homosexual. It was just laid out there. I had no preparation that it was the famous plot. I had no idea that palace entertainment included people coupling in front of everyone. What was the matter with James' son, Charles? I wish there had been more historical information and not presume the reader was an expert of the times. I realized I knew a lot about the Tudors and next to nothing about the Stuarts. I did some research on Princess Elizabeth and think she lived an interesting life. I'd like to read more about her and after a rocky start, I will come back to discover what happens to Frances. This is the first book of a planned trilogy and I am looking forward to the next one. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Langham

    This novel has quite an interesting premise. I'm personally a big fan of historical fiction that examines well-known time periods or figures through the eyes of women, whether they are women who are also well-known, or those who represent people likely to have existed on the periphery of a situation. The writing itself was very competent, but something about it failed to draw me in. At times, I found the narration too flowery ("purple prose', as it is often called). I quite enjoy literary fictio This novel has quite an interesting premise. I'm personally a big fan of historical fiction that examines well-known time periods or figures through the eyes of women, whether they are women who are also well-known, or those who represent people likely to have existed on the periphery of a situation. The writing itself was very competent, but something about it failed to draw me in. At times, I found the narration too flowery ("purple prose', as it is often called). I quite enjoy literary fiction and lingering descriptions, but this book felt a little trapped in between popular history and literary fiction -- not quite mastering either form. There were plenty of opportunities for drama and conflict that seemed to have been overlooked. That said, it's a good novel and some passages are outstanding, with others less engaging due to their somewhat meandering nature. I appreciated the spiritual and political themes through the exploration of so-called witchcraft. A huge amount of research would have been undertaken by the author and editors - something we absolutely should respect.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hungry

    I enjoyed this so much! I have read alot of historical books and kind of over did it earlier on in the year, and definatly overdosed on damask and hoods. I was really looking for an audiobook that would capture my sense and grab my attentions, I am generally 'doing stuff' when listening to an audio version of a book and this book had me on several occasions stopping me in my tracks, to stand still and listen. The premise of this story is about Frances Gorges a lady who lives in the time of the late I enjoyed this so much! I have read alot of historical books and kind of over did it earlier on in the year, and definatly overdosed on damask and hoods. I was really looking for an audiobook that would capture my sense and grab my attentions, I am generally 'doing stuff' when listening to an audio version of a book and this book had me on several occasions stopping me in my tracks, to stand still and listen. The premise of this story is about Frances Gorges a lady who lives in the time of the late Elizabethan era and the beginning of the Jacobean reign. Frances is the Daughter of a Marchioness and a skilled healer, she knows her herbs and is indeed known as so, she evens soothes the out going queen in her deathbed with her salves and poultaces. Unfortunatly for her, the new monarch has puritanicle views, his court dishonest and rampent with unmorale behaviour and indeed the new kings sniffing around young men, he had this intolerance of what he thought was akin to Witchcraft. Being of a certain level in society, her overbearing uncle insists that she goes to cout and serve the young princess as a companion and attendant, but this will put her in right in the path of the ever increasing Witch hunt. Without spoiling anything for you, I will not venture further with my bookish chat, but I will say that this book is full of intrigue, emotion and danger. The writing is both clever and expressive and I loved every minute I spent in this world that penned. I cannot believe she is making me wait a whole year to get my hands on the next one.... how dare she!:P

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lola Et La Vie

    Set against the backdrop of the political turmoil that was the reign of King James I in the early 1600s, Borman has created a novel that is full of intrigue, yet manages to make it very human. Frances makes a strong heroine that you cannot help but root for amidst historic figures. You can feel Frances’ frustration as her fate is always decided upon by others and yet she knows her duty and I found myself admiring her for her loyalty to those she holds dear. Because this is a story created within t Set against the backdrop of the political turmoil that was the reign of King James I in the early 1600s, Borman has created a novel that is full of intrigue, yet manages to make it very human. Frances makes a strong heroine that you cannot help but root for amidst historic figures. You can feel Frances’ frustration as her fate is always decided upon by others and yet she knows her duty and I found myself admiring her for her loyalty to those she holds dear. Because this is a story created within the confounds of historical events, you already have a sense what will happen with certain storylines and the ending was predictable, but Borman managed to keep it fresh and interesting and I did not really mind. Overall, this was a great read and I am looking forward to future books in the trilogy. Highly recommended if you like historical fiction set during this time period. You will not be disappointed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman features Frances Gorges, a herbalist who is forced to go to court to better her family’s standing. Frances’ time at court is nothing as she thought as she grows close to some and is an enemy of a powerful figure. The court is torn between using her knowledge to help with ailments/dying loved ones or grouping her with the witch slandering that King James’ is creating by purging England of all it’s witches. Can Elizabeth use her place at court to change all or any The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman features Frances Gorges, a herbalist who is forced to go to court to better her family’s standing. Frances’ time at court is nothing as she thought as she grows close to some and is an enemy of a powerful figure. The court is torn between using her knowledge to help with ailments/dying loved ones or grouping her with the witch slandering that King James’ is creating by purging England of all it’s witches. Can Elizabeth use her place at court to change all or any of this? Released Jun 13th, Borman has delivered another interesting historical tale. I found the tidbits interesting but the story dawdled a little in the middle at 455 pages.

  20. 3 out of 5

    Marie Z. Johansen

    Excellent! I have always enjoyed Tracy Borman's history books and looked forward to reading her first novel. It did not disappoint. Filled with rich historical details, characters that feel as if they live and breath and scenes that one can almost "live in" this book is a winner. My only complaint is that now I will have to wait to read another book of historical fiction from this talented author

  21. 3 out of 5

    Kristin Davison

    I would like to thank netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read this book. Set in the court of James I of England and VI of Scotland, this book follows lady Frances a lady in waiting to princess Elizabeth, the kings daughter. It's an interesting look at a superstitious and dangerous court. The beginning was a little slow, but it really picks up and I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I really enjoyed this book about the real life character Frances Gorges set in the time of James I and the gunpowder plot. Really gave you the atmosphere of court life of the time and the persecution of witches. Just found out it is the first of a trilogy so look forward to reading the next one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    The author is an accomplished historian and it showed. This is a great read about life at court in early 1600 England. Very informative, interesting and very enjoyable. Thank you publisher and netgalley for this arc in exchange of an honest opinion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Great loved the true history and the fiction. I could see the characters clearly and feel their emotions. Glad I happened on this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Frances Gorges is a bright, forthright, intellectually curious woman. Unfortunately, she was born at a time when those characteristics were not seen as feminine virtues. Tracy Borman’s novel, The King’s Witch, opens in 1603 and continues over the next couple of years as Frances gets into several kinds of serious trouble at the Court of James I... Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

  26. 5 out of 5

    RoloPoloBookBlog

    The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman Book #1: Frances Gorges Trilogy Source: Netgalley My Rating: 4/5 stars Frances Gorges, though born to a title, land, and money, would much rather spend her time tucked away at her family’s estate than waste her time, title, and money at court. In fact, if Frances were to have her way, she would never leave her family estate. Unfortunately, given her time and place, Frances’s life is more often controlled by powerful men rather than by her own choices. The court of Ki The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman Book #1: Frances Gorges Trilogy Source: Netgalley My Rating: 4/5 stars Frances Gorges, though born to a title, land, and money, would much rather spend her time tucked away at her family’s estate than waste her time, title, and money at court. In fact, if Frances were to have her way, she would never leave her family estate. Unfortunately, given her time and place, Frances’s life is more often controlled by powerful men rather than by her own choices. The court of King James is no place for the bold, daring, or the inquisitive. In fact, the only people safe in the court of King James are those who believe precisely as the King does and flaunt those beliefs openly. Any beliefs and/or practices even a hair outside those of the King are considered heretical, and King James isn’t afraid to kill to “protect” himself and his court. Unfortunately, Frances Gorges is among those most reviled by the King, and thanks to her power-hungry uncle, she has landed herself in the heart of the lion’s den with only her own wits to protect her. Thanks to years of study, both independently and with a kind mentor, Frances has learned the skills necessary to serve her community as a healer. Plants, herbs, tinctures, lotions, and concoctions are her strength, with healing and good intentions being her only motivation. In her small town, Frances is largely free to practice her skills and help her neighbors; at the court of King James, her skills will get her killed for witchcraft. With no intention of dying, Frances does all she can to hide her abilities, but when the Queen herself comes calling, it’s hard to deny what and who she is in the face of royalty. What and who Frances Gorges is, is precisely what lands her in trouble and in the thick of a plot she never wanted any part of. As her life spins wildly out of control, Frances often finds herself at the mercy of others and their whims. Through cunning, intelligence, stark bravery, and a commitment to her young, royal ward, Frances manages to navigate life at court through the most dangerous of times. Through physical hardship, torture, blackmail, emotional manipulation, and even the tiniest bit of happiness, Frances lives her life and serves as she has been called forth to do. The end result is nothing like she would have ever predicted! The Bottom Line: Though this book is a slow starter, I’m exceedingly glad I stuck with it and plowed through the slow parts. Frances Gorges is a terribly interesting character who seems to defy Fate at every turn. Her life at court isn’t at all what she wants, but she finds a way to forge ahead even in the direst of circumstances. Once the plot really picks up, it begins to roll quite nicely through a series of awful, treacherous, and treasonous events that leave Frances absolutely reeling. In so many ways, she is a woman caught up in her time and place, unable to escape a future wrought for her by scheming, cold, and uncaring men. With that in mind, one of my favorite aspects of this read is Frances’s ability to hold her head high and remain largely true to herself, her family, and her abilities as a healer. With the exception of the slow start and some excessive detail (which can easily be skimmed over!) I found this read satisfying. While it doesn’t necessarily have an HEA, it does have a proper ending that answered all the questions and dealt with all the characters, some more satisfactorily than others. In all, a fine piece of historical fiction.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mamacat02

    Please may I have books 2 and 3 of this trilogy NOW?! I LOVED it. After waiting 3 weeks to start reading The King’s Witch (due to watching the Olympics) I found myself carving out time in my days to steal 5 minutes here and there because I couldn’t stay away from Frances’ story. Any book I start now will suffer from the book hangover I’m going to have after finishing The King’s Witch. I’m glad her story doesn't end here as there is so much of Frances’ story we need to know. This book has all one Please may I have books 2 and 3 of this trilogy NOW?! I LOVED it. After waiting 3 weeks to start reading The King’s Witch (due to watching the Olympics) I found myself carving out time in my days to steal 5 minutes here and there because I couldn’t stay away from Frances’ story. Any book I start now will suffer from the book hangover I’m going to have after finishing The King’s Witch. I’m glad her story doesn't end here as there is so much of Frances’ story we need to know. This book has all one would expect when writing about royalty back in the day – intrigue, mystery, betrayal, witchcraft (or what passed for witchcraft at the time), death and love.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ginger Pollard

    As this book starts Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth I is on her death bed. King James I of Scotland is sent for and becomes King James VI of England. This is a wonderful story that kept me reading all night. It's a must for any Historical Fiction fan. I'm so glad this is a series! I look forward to reading more of this story by this new to me author. I will also be reading other books by her. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley! All opinions are my own and I loved i As this book starts Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth I is on her death bed. King James I of Scotland is sent for and becomes King James VI of England. This is a wonderful story that kept me reading all night. It's a must for any Historical Fiction fan. I'm so glad this is a series! I look forward to reading more of this story by this new to me author. I will also be reading other books by her. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley! All opinions are my own and I loved it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review I may be being slightly harsh on this, but a very solid 3/5 stars. Set in the very early days of King James VI/I of Scotland/England, The King's Witch follows Frances, a young noblewoman, daughter of Elizabeth I's favourite handmaiden, who knows her way around herbs. The second daughter, Frances had been attending the ailing Elizabeth on her deathbed, using her herbs to give the queen some final comfort, when she is de ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review I may be being slightly harsh on this, but a very solid 3/5 stars. Set in the very early days of King James VI/I of Scotland/England, The King's Witch follows Frances, a young noblewoman, daughter of Elizabeth I's favourite handmaiden, who knows her way around herbs. The second daughter, Frances had been attending the ailing Elizabeth on her deathbed, using her herbs to give the queen some final comfort, when she is delivered an ominous warning - her queen's successor, James, is none too fond of witches... and healing could quite easily be mistaken for being in league with the Devil. Heavily researched and well-written, Borman's first installment in the Frances Gorges Trilogy follows its titular character as she navigates a fractured court on edge, trying to keep herself from the ducking stool. Oh, and the Gunpowder Plot. Old Jamie wasn't a huge fan of papists either, and that definitely factors in here too. It's telling I'm seeing a major plot point as an afterthought, though. Frances isn't your typical, naive, well-to-do aristocrat in this book, though there are times where you want to shake her. As with all characters in this book, she's relatable. And she really shouldn't be - I have no idea what it's like to be worried about getting burnt alive when I'm giving people the equivalent of Advil - but she is. Borman writes wonderfully, and her characterization of Queen Anne is refreshing, to say the least, and probably my favourite thing in this book. I remember reading about her as a child in school, and she was merely a footnote of simpering nature. I didn't know better at the time, but Anne is far from it. She rallied against her husband, campaigning for years for the right to raise her own son, Henry, and remained at odds with the way James governed most of her life, never cowering. Honestly, it warms my cold, cynical heart to see a queen consort being written as someone with a spine, her accomplishments and personality lorded, rather than pushed aside for main character development/some odd placed love triangle that seems to plague this genre right now. Like I said earlier, this is very well-researched. I have been beaten over the head with Tudor/Stuart history since I was a child, and I grew a genuine interest in this time period. All the research in the world, however, won't really save you from a story that lags at times (I spent the first 30% or so of the book feeling like I hadn't made any progress at all, only to discover that it was the story that wasn't moving quickly). It does, admittedly, pick up, but then we get a bit too busy for my liking. Research won't save you from a story that meanders, either. I was drawn to this book purely because of the "witch" title. I knew James hated them, and I really, really wanted to see that explored. It takes a backseat to the Gunpowder Plot, though, which I'm aware is stated as a big chunk of this book, but Frances' main "claim to fame", if you will, is ignored for it and a romance that has a few gaps in. I may just no longer have any imagination and require spoonfeeding at this stage, though. Who knows. I felt disappointed, which is why this book dropped from 4 to 3 stars. It just feels...disjointed, in places, and like Borman somewhat forgot about the witchery for a while. Which is fine, just not what I enjoy. The ending came on a bit too quickly for me too, but that seems to, again, be a common theme for books with a definite sequel, so I somewhat understand that. It was a little underwhelming, to say the least, but overall, not a bad read. Just not an amazing one. If you're a fan of late Tudor/early Stuart history and court intrigue, this book is definitely for you. If you're looking for an easy, slow-starting read, also the book for you. Not sure who I'd recommend this to, and if I'll continue the trilogy, but I'll wait to see what book #2 has in store.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Louise Marley

    I do love reading historical novels about witches and royalty, and I did like the look of this one, with its lovely red and gold cover. However, although the story started off with a wise woman in the time of King James I (a rather perilous occupation in those days!), it was actually about something else entirely - which I won't mention because of spoilers! Frances Gorges's parents were courtiers to the old Queen Elizabeth but have fallen out of favour now that James is on the throne. While Franc I do love reading historical novels about witches and royalty, and I did like the look of this one, with its lovely red and gold cover. However, although the story started off with a wise woman in the time of King James I (a rather perilous occupation in those days!), it was actually about something else entirely - which I won't mention because of spoilers! Frances Gorges's parents were courtiers to the old Queen Elizabeth but have fallen out of favour now that James is on the throne. While Frances would have been happy to stay at home growing her flowers and herbs, and concocting potions to heal the sick, her uncle has managed to get her the job of lady-of-the-bedchamber to eight-year-old Princess Elizabeth. Arriving at Court, Frances is immediately plunged into all the political intrigue surrounding the King and is soon forced to choose a side - possibly not the right one! While her uncle wishes her to use this time to make an important marriage that will benefit her family, unfortunately Frances only has eyes for one, very unimportant man - yet is he all that he seems? The author has included an incredible amount of detail about the way these people lived and I was quickly caught up in their lives. I particularly loved Frances for her forthright opinions, although these soon got her into trouble. Although I don't know much about this time period, I began to recognise some of the characters' names and soon realised where the story was headed! Even though I knew what the outcome would be, I still found the story completely gripping. I think my only niggle was that I'd liked to have known which parts were fiction and which were based on fact. (Google wasn't much help!) I really enjoyed The King's Witch and could imagine it appealing to fans of authors such as Philippa Gregory. Although readers expecting something more witchy might be disappointed in the way the plot goes in a different direction. Thank you to Tracy Borman, Hodder & Stoughton, and NetGalley for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of The King's Witch, which will be published in the UK on 14 June 2018.

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