Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: In the Shadow of Lions: A novel of Anne Boleyn by Ginger Garrett

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Title: In the Shadow of Lions: A novel of Anne Boleyn

Author: Ginger Garrett

Series: Chronicles of the Scribe #1

Genre: Historical/Speculative Fiction

Audience: Adult


"I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here, and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book . a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible—Scriptures the common people could read for themselves. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the same book, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew.

**2 stars**

In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett is a historical novel with a generous splash of speculative-fiction-ishness. Following Anne Boleyn (one of the wives of King Henry VIII) and a peasant woman named Rose, plus cancer-victim Bridget, who lives in the modern world, this book makes for quite the interesting story. And strange. For a while, I got really into it. But it never became what I was hoping it would be. Hence, the two-star rating.

Let me explain. While, yes, intriguing and well-written, the storyline of In the Shadow of Lions was lacking, to me personally. For one, I felt it maybe took too much liberties with real people in history. Did it really happen like that? Were certain well-known historical figures that extreme? I've studied the Tutor history a bit in school in whatnot, and some of the happenings in this book felt off to me.
Two, Christianity was so mixed up, it rather overwhelmed me. I know that at that time in England, the Church was quite misleading people. But in this book, Anne Boleyn, a mistress of the king, basically a husband-stealer, is portrayed as someone bringing God's Word to people, while King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine, (who was cruelly cast aside) is quite against the Bible and Truth. Thomas More, Henry VIII, and other men are always crying and praying and saying their doing God's work when they're killing people or that God has blessed them after they committed adultery and their mistress is pregnant ....... It was sickening! Anne Boleyn is created to be a victim, the next prey of the king. She says she won't become his mistress; they must be married. And so sets on this mission to become queen. It seems she sort of uses spreading word about William Tyndale's translation of the Bible as a means to become queen - to get what she wanted. And, in the end, she decides she tired of waiting and goes to the king without the blessing of marriage. It seems she doesn't care truly about spreading God's word, but what she can get out of it. She doesn't know God at all. She blesses Him when she's getting her way, and accuses Him when she's not. She never feels remorseful for her sin. But in the end, some angel-like person tells her she's going to heaven.
It was all confusing and strange to me, and I wasn't sure what the message of the book was.

Also, with the "intrigue" between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, there were some unnecessary things added in. I felt some of it was inappropriate in the way it was written. (Definitely adult content.) What is the point of telling this story - telling how Anne felt? What happened between them was obviously wrong. The Bible speaks clearly against adultery, divorce, and flirting with sin.

I don't know. I don't exactly understand what the point of the story was. This book was just not for me - a little too edgy for my liking. (And I felt the author took some historical details a little too far out of context, which is frustrating to me.) Hmm. I guess you can decide that for yourself if you want to read In the Shadow of Lions.

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