Saturday 1 September 2012

Review - Before Versailles by Karleen Koen

My thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for an ecopy of this book to review.

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
1 September 2012

My 3 **** Review

The early years in the reign of Louis XIV are fraught with intrigue, and the dark days following the death of Cardinal Mazarin are filled with drama and political subterfuge, which forces the young King to take possession of his monarchy from the very beginning.

The book gets off to a rather slow start, there is much to explain, and the complicated relationship between the major characters needs to be set into historical context. Once this is firmly entrenched in the mind, the novel begins to open up, and becomes an interesting description of seventeenth century life at the French court. There are the usual illicit royal relationships, and as the sexual intrigue between the King and the ladies of the court develop, it is easy to see glimpses of the decadence we have come to associate with the reign of the ‘Sun King’. The self-indulgence and corruption at the centre of court life is well described, and the scheming tactics of finance minister, Fouquet is well explained. It was nice to see the inclusion of the musketeers we know and love, and the addition of a further story which alludes to the mystery of the ‘The Man in Iron Mask’, adds interest to this pleasant historical novel. Overall, this is an enjoyable depiction of court life, and as the court elite flutter like moths round a flame; it is easy to see how Louis XIV became such a charismatic and calculating monarch.

I have a great fondness for Karleen Koen’s Dark Angels series, and was interested to see what she would make of this prequel. However, I’m not convinced that I would have gone on to read her other books on the strength of this novel alone, but as an example of Karleen Koen’s penchant for Louis XIV, this novel is able stand on its own merits, however for me , it just lacked some depth of characterisation .


  1. Doesn't sound like my cup of tea, nice review :)



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